On average, only 40-60% of canola seeds put in the ground actually survive to become plants producing grain crop.
Growers can use the following tips to increase seed survival, achieve a healthy target and get more from their seed investment.
Remember to measure stand establishment after the first application of herbicide (which may remove any non-herbicide tolerant volunteers) and delay until 21 days after emergence.
Sow seed into warmer soils. Seeding early into warmer soils speeds up emergence and makes it more uniform. Soil temperatures of 10°C or higher are ideal. Australian studies have shown canola yields decline by up to 200 kg/ha per week delay in sowing over mid-April and canola oil content is reduced by 3% per month sowing delay. The best plan is to aim to seed early.
Sow seed shallow and at a consistent depth. Aiming for 2 cm on average (but the range could be 1 to 5 cm) below the seeding furrow is the recommended seed depth for canola. This will reduce days to emergence and reduce the seed energy required for emergence.
Use hybrid canola or larger seed. Hybrids exhibit larger seed size, better vigour and stronger root development, Establishment rates of hybrids are typically higher at 60-80% and have a much greater ability to compensate for lower plant populations.
Seed slower to ensure targeted and even seed depth from all openers. Spread residue evenly at harvest of preceding crop and have a drill that can penetrate trash so all openers place seed into the soil. Re-check depth when moving from one field to the next.
Limit seed-placed fertiliser. Canola seedlings are particularly sensitive to damage due to close proximity to fertiliser. The more fertiliser put down at seeding and the wider the row spacing, the farther away fertiliser should be from the seed row. Best practice is to apply only nitrogen and phosphate fertiliser with the seed depending on soil type, soil moisture conditions and seed-bed utilisation (SBU) and then put the rest of the N/P and other nutrients away from the seed row.
Increase seed: soil contact appropriately. Packing pressure can be a delicate balance, and often changes by soil type as well as moisture conditions. In wet conditions, reduce packing pressure to limit hard crusting. In dry conditions, pack more to conserve moisture in the seed row.
Rotate crops. A tight canola rotation (less than 2 years) will increase the risk from seed and seedling diseases that can reduce emergence or plant health.
Local experience. It is important to match and adapt best practices to local soil types, environment and cropping systems. Canola growers should seek advice and product knowledge from your local Pioneer representative in conjunction with the experience of other growers, local agronomists and consultants.