From Canola Council

Seeding is delayed across the Prairies due to excess moisture and cooler temperatures. Performing the following jobs now will help growers complete their seeding operation efficiently as soon as the fields are ready.

Canola seeded early usually has higher yield and quality than canola seeded late May or June. But there are two things you need to know about this statement. First, crop insurance results and various studies show that yield reductions from delaying seeding are much smaller prior to mid May than after — so there is still time.

Second, the yield benefit from early seeding often depends on adequate stand establishment and uniform plant populations. If field conditions are not sufficient for proper drill function, seed placement and seedling survival, then early seeding will not have the same benefit as it would under good seeding conditions.

While waiting for field conditions to improve, growers could use the extra time to perform the following pre-seeding tasks.

Pick up seed and fertilizer. Check with the retailer to see if pre-ordered seed and fertilizer are available. If yes, you may want to take this opportunity to bring it home and have it ready to go. Save a minimum 500 ml (2 cups) from each seed lot in a seed lab bag. Record seeding date and rate, keep the blue seed tag, and store samples in a cool, dry place in a rodent proof container. In the rare event that stand establishment is inadequate, determining the cause will be a process of elimination. Properly stored samples may provide valuable information. Your local retailer may help with the sampling.

Know the TKW for each seed lot. Many seed lots will have the thousand kernel weight (TKW) printed on the bag or on a sheet of paper shrink-wrapped with the pallet. Use these TKWs to calculate a seeding rate for each seed lot. When TKWs are within one gram of each other, the grower may not notice a difference in plant stand when these lots are seeded at the same pounds per acre. But seeding rates should be readjusted when TKWs are more than a gram apart. A heavy seed lot with a TKW of 5 grams applied at lower seeding rate of 4 pounds per acre may not achieve the minimum plant stand for top yield potential.

Give the drill a complete inspection. Find a flat dry place to work, and get the drill leveled. Follow the instruction manual. Also inspect openers, hoses, tank gaskets, meter rollers and manifolds for wear. Check that the electronics work properly and are calibrated. If you have a new drill, consider seeding wheat or peas first to work out the kinks prior to seeding canola. For a detailed summary of drill prep, click here.

Get a soil analysis. Soil nutrient levels will be unpredictable this year given the moist conditions in many fields last year and this spring. Nitrogen could be lower than expected. And a Saskatchewan soil test lab said sulphur levels, in general, are very low. If soil test results don’t come back until after seeding has begun, growers can use in-crop applications to top up sulphur and nitrogen to required levels.

Check fields. Some fields may still have pools of water. Others may be better drained and ready sooner. Check them all. This may be a year to seed based on which fields are ready first instead of which crops you want to seed first. Reassess whether the varieties you had chosen for each field are still suitable. If a long-season variety was planned for the field with pools of water, the variety may provide better results in a field ready sooner.