Canola 101 (repeat)

Canola 101 (repeat)

Since the first major crop to be planted this fall will probably be Winter Canola, I thought we might review the basics.

Canola 101

Contact your insurance agent and get all of that “squared away”. Last year the insurance on winter canola was “favorable” and I have not heard anything different so far this year, but you’ve got to get those “ducks in a row”.

Take a soil sample and send it in with a canola yield goal. (2000 lbs./acre would be a very good goal)
Follow the recommendations on the soil sample for fertility.
Canola uses about 2.5 lbs. of N per bushel of Canola (a little more than wheat) and this should be split applied so that the canola will not use too large of a percentage on wasted fall growth.
Canola has about the same requirements for P and K as wheat.
Canola uses or needs more Sulfur than wheat BUT Oklahoma soils are not without Sulfur. Only add if needed. That is why you took a soil sample.
Yield is reduced if the pH of the soil is 5.5 or lower. If too low then lime the field. If you have a low pH there are varieties that have a greater tolerance for low pH than others, you might choose one of them.

Canola likes a firm and some say stale seed bed. Do not work it up soft just before planting. Get it clean and maybe not work it after a rain.
No till is all about residue management. There was some successful no till canola last year, but we had weather that was conducive to it. For canola to survive a hard winter it needs its crown basically against the ground. If canola has to climb through the residue and then establish it’s crown it will be more susceptible to freezing out during the winter months. At a minimum one should distribute the residue out as evenly as possible and plant into the stubble of a crop with less residue. (Corn or Soybeans usually have fewer residues than a thick wheat crop.) If row cleaners are available on your planting equipment they would be a big help.

Calibrate your drill. This isn’t hard guys. Google it if needed. If your drill is accurate you may not need this. The seeding rate of canola is around 4 lbs./acre and it is a small seed. The suggested row spacing, however, is 12 to 16 inches so covering every other hole in a 7.5 inch drill would put you into the 15 inch row spacing and make the drill setting 8 lbs./acre and almost all drills can accurately get there.
The suggested speed for canola planting is not over 5mph. This is more important than you might think. This seed and plant is not wheat!
Seeding depth is ¾ to 1 ½ inches into firm soil. Speed and seed bed preparation are how you get this right.
Best date for our area is Sept. 10th through Oct. 10th and this is also the planting window for insurance.
I would strongly suggest using treated seed (most of it will be anyway) and use more than one variety. Don’t forget to try to get the residue out of the way on no till.

In Crop:
Okay we have it fertilized and planted correctly and now it is up. Keep an eye on it for insects and unwanted plants (weeds and volunteer grasses). Usually we have two worms to watch for in the fall. The Diamondback and the Cutworm. Both hole and or chew the leaves. The Turnip and Green Peach aphids can come in the fall but I think the seed treatment helps with these. Cabbage aphids and False chinch bugs can (and usually do) come in the spring. Apply an insecticide when these reach economic thresholds.
Apply a herbicide EARLY in the fall and do it again in the spring before the plant bolts, whether you think it needs it or not………. because it does. One of the reasons you probably planted winter canola was to clean up rye, jointed goat grass, cheat, (whatever) and you need to take both shots at these pest. Most of the time you can and should combine the insecticide application (see above) with the herbicide application.
Just a note about insects. You might not want to plant canola on a farm with an inhabited house on the same farm, either yours, an acquaintance, or “Heaven forbid” a landlord. In the past two years the False Chinch bug has poured out of the fields and invaded anything near it, and people do not want to see False Chinch Bugs in their underwear drawers.

A combine will harvest canola standing, but that doesn’t mean that is the best way to do it. Best suggestion would be to swath and pack it with a draper header and roller (there are more and more custom machines available for this ) when the seeds in the pod are 50 6o 60% color change (black). Swathing evens maturity and protects the crop. After 6 to 7 days it will be ready for pickup and harvest.

Now go cash your check!


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