1. Where does one start when choosing a canola variety?
A logical place to start is what herbicide system to put on a specific field. It may be worthwhile rotating herbicide-tolerance systems if some weeds have become difficult to control.
If disease management is top of mind, you may want to consider looking at the disease package each variety offers. If sclerotinia stem rot is an ongoing concern, a sclerotinia-tolerant variety might be a good choice.
If blackleg is a concern, take a look at the
new blackleg labels implemented by some
seed companies for this growing season.
A number of clubroot resistant varieties are also available.
Increased pod-shatter tolerance has become a more desired trait. This trait isn’t just about straight cutting; it can help you manage your acres at swathing or harvest timing as well.
Agronomic traits are also worth comparing. Days to flower and maturity, height and lodging for each variety can help you decide planting dates to manage harvest timing.
Finally, you want to know about yield potential. How does a variety perform each year compared to other varieties? How consistently does a variety yield under different conditions?
2. Look at a range of information
You have a plethora of data from many sources, including advertisements, plot tours, neighbours, retailers, social media and your own experiences. Seed companies publish their variety performance data every year. Many retails do trials as well so their customers can see how the genetics perform in their local area. Taking the time to look at the data available from different sources can help narrow down your choices.
3. Dig into the CPTs
The Canola Performance Trials (CPTs) are an independent, third-party variety testing program with sites throughout Western Canada.
The program, in its current form, has been in place since 2011. New for 2017 is the introduction of a pod-shatter component. Traditionally, varieties in the small-plot trials were not straight cut. With new pod-shatter varieties available to farmers, the CPTs created a second protocol (which can be viewed on the CPT website) to test these straight cut varieties and harvest them at the appropriate time.
The CPTs are looking at 25 varieties in 2017 between the standard and straight cut protocols, which are being tested at 25 small plots locations in Western Canada.
4. How to get the most out of CPTs
Although 2017 data will not be available until after harvest, six years of historical data are available at canolaperformancetrials.ca. Data by individual site and by season zone are available in the annual booklets. While looking at how a variety performs in your area is important, you’ll also see value in how it performs in other areas with different conditions. Data can be searched using the online tool, which has interactive maps, and the ability to refine searches by specific trial location, season zone, herbicide tolerance (HT) type, yield, days to maturity, lodging and height.
CPT results are also provided in each of the provincial seed guides each year.
5. CPTs are GROWER-FUNDED
Manitoba Canola Growers, SaskCanola and Alberta Canola fund the CPT program, providing another strong return on grower levy dollars. Grower group representatives sit on the CPT Governance Committee, and chose the varieties in the program this year. The decision to move ahead with the CPT came as a result of a survey that showed growers and industry value the independent testing nature of the CPT program.
The CPT is committed to providing quality data to farmers in Western Canada to help them make the right variety decision. Each site is inspected each season to make certain the site established well, and to ensure no seeding or herbicide issues occurred. The data from each site is analyzed (by a CPT Technical Committee, which includes all three Provincial Oilseed Specialists, in addition to other members) before publishing on the website and in