Choosing the Right Canola Variety for Your Field (not your Farm)
Crop rotation and variety selection are the best profitability and risk management tools available for producers. Selecting varieties that demonstrate high yield potential for your ecological zone is important, but arguably more important is selecting a canola variety with the combination of traits best suited to each individual field on your farm.
This likely means some added logistical and decision-making complexity, but the reward is often higher profitability, reduced risk and increased yields.
The first step is to take inventory of your fields. A field record with cropping history, including variety and yield, and detailed notes on environmental conditions, disease levels, herbicide history, insect pressure and weed infestations for each field is invaluable!
Make a list of all fields that will be planted to canola in 2021, and think about aspects of those fields that could impact yield – historic disease levels, proximity to canola fields that had yield-robbing disease levels, seedbed condition, background fertility and rotation.
Next, list all of the canola traits that are important for you and rank them for each planned canola field. Typical traits include herbicide tolerance system, pod shatter, height, lodging, days to maturity and disease resistance.
If clubroot is in your community, clubroot resistance trait should be at the top of the list! If you have blackleg incidence that has been increasing over the years, or you have had yield losses, then consider blackleg resistance genetics in your variety selection decision. Researchers have shown that the majority of canola varieties released in the past decade have relied on one blackleg resistance gene (Rlm 3) and these researchers have also shown that this resistance is being overcome by the fungus in regions. If this is the case on some of your fields, consider a canola variety with a different resistance gene. Rotation of genetic sources can help to protect disease resistance traits and improve yields on individual fields, however different hybrids don’t necessarily mean different resistance sources. If sclerotinia is always a risk in your area, but moisture patterns don’t always trigger a fungicide application, a variety with sclerotinia tolerance may protect yield and reduce risk.
If severe environmental conditions at maturity have reduced yields, if
logistical constraints have required early swathing or left the crop standing too long, or if header or swather losses have been unusually high then a variety with some level of pod shatter tolerance may be useful to protect yield. Consider whether this is your greatest yield limitation, or whether disease resistance should take precedence.
Choose varieties that are selected for optimal yields in your season zone. If you are in a long-season zone, does it make sense to plant a particular field to a short- or mid-season maturity variety and plant this field early to get some yield into the bin and spread out the harvest? Many of the short- and mid-season canola varieties have excellent yield potential.
Once you have your traits ranked for each field, consult the seed guide or other resource material to find varieties with the traits that you need for each field. From this list of candidates, you can start looking at yield potential.
With your narrowed down list of candidate varieties, look at the yields achieved in trial sites with soil type, rain fall and season length similar to your fields. Additionally, look at results in dissimilar areas and prior years to understand the “yield stability” of the variety. Consider the yield potential of your field, your fertility program and look for varieties that consistently achieve that yield, and not just at varieties that “win” the highest yield at the location nearest you. Consider that yield results seen in trials may not necessarily be achievable on your own farm. Plots are often grown in the most productive, consistent and well drained areas of the field to ensure field conditions are not a confounding factor. As well, your own fields’ fertility regimen, background fertility, organic matter, pH and available moisture could differ substantially from the trial site.
Yield data from seed company strip trials or grower-sponsored strip trials is a good starting point, especially when you can look at data from multiple locations. The ‘gold standard’ for yield data comes from the grower-funded Canola Performance Trials (CPT). Find this data at canolaperformancetrials.ca. The CPTs are randomized, replicated trials – a trial model that is the backbone of agronomy and breeding research.
In closing, make your canola hybrid decisions a team event. Consult the family members or employees you farm with to get their input. With the team contributing observations, analytical thinking and math skills to find the right variety for each field, the result should be enhanced farm profitability.
Reminder: Participate in Saskatchewan Clubroot Monitoring
This fall, we are ensuring that farmers have the tools they need to detect clubroot on their farm through the clubroot soil testing program, offered by SaskCanola and the Saskatchewan Ministry of Agriculture As part of this program, a farmer can request a soil sampling bag, collect soil from their field and submit it for testing. SaskCanola will cover the $100 cost.
Call the SaskCanola office to request your soil test
Call for Nominations: Four Director Positions Available on SaskCanola Board
Nominations are being accepted to fill four positions on SaskCanola’s eight-member Board of Directors, with the successful candidates beginning their four-year term on January 2021.
For Saskatchewan canola farmers, this is a unique opportunity to guide investments into research and extension, influence policy and inform consumers.
If you, or someone you know, would like to have a voice in the agriculture industry and help maintain a strong farmer presence at the decision tables of the agriculture industry and regulators, now is your time to get involved.
The nomination package is available for download at saskcanola.com or by calling the SaskCanola office 306- 975-0262 to request one. All applications must be received no later than 4:00 p.m. on September 18, 2020.
SaskCanola Invests in Team Dunstone
SaskCanola has proudly partnered with Saskatchewan professional curling athlete Kirk Muyres for a number of years and will continue to as we sponsor Kirk and his new Team Dunstone this upcoming season. Our investment aims to increase SaskCanola’s profile within Saskatchewan and canola product awareness across Canada as the teams’ apparel proudly showcases our brand. We wish good curling to our provincial ambassadors for farmers and canola oil!
SaskCanola Donates Oil
With many summer events cancelled or held virtually due to the pandemic, SaskCanola had some canola oil on-hand that needed a new purpose. We decided that the best home for our cases of oil were food banks in some of Saskatchewan’s major centres, including Regina, Saskatoon, Prince Albert, Moose Jaw and Swift Current.
This donation of oil is one way that our commission can give back to the communities that Saskatchewan farmers call home.