From Canola Council
While checking fields:
—Monitor soil temperature. Crop residue, shelterbelts and slope will make some soils cooler than others. Warmer fields may be ready to seed first. Use a soil thermometer to compare soil temperatures at seeding depth. Because soil temperatures fluctuate widely, take readings at 8:00 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. over a few days and average the results. Canola can germinate in soils as cool as 2 C, but it can take a long time and produce an uneven stand. A good starting point for seeding is when the three-day average is 4-5 C.
—Scout for cutworms and wireworms. Dingy cutworms overwinter as larvae and will start feeding as soon as plants start growing. This is one cutworm species to look for this time of year. Wireworms will also feed on canola, and numbers could be especially high in fields recently taken out of forage or pasture. Use bait balls to scout for wireworms. Mix a cup of flour, 2 tablespoons of honey and a bit of water and form into golf-ball sized rounds. Bury bait balls 4-6” deep at 20 sites per targeted acre. Balls give off CO2, which attracts wireworms. Make sure to place bait balls in areas with no other food source, such as weeds, within a 3’ radius. Mark where the balls are buried and check after a few days. Bring a magnifying glass to help identify wireworms and cutworms.
Click here for more on cutworms, including scouting tips, identification, and management measures.
Click here for more detail on how to make and use bait balls.
—Assess weed growth. Everything is later this year, including weeds, but winter annuals are advancing and many early-season annuals are emerging. A pre-seed application of glyphosate or CleanStart (the only products registered for pre-seed application ahead of canola) can provide economical weed management. A post seeding/pre-emergence glyphosate application also works. Remember that MCPA and 2,4-D are not registered for use ahead of canola. There is a significant risk of crop injury, even if growers have had successful experiences using these products in the past, because different conditions — such as cooler temperatures — will affect breakdown rates.
These are good jobs to do every year before seeding starts. With a little extra time this year, growers can cover these tasks thoroughly and be ready to seed in full force when conditions allow. One key to success this spring will be a readiness to change plans as field conditions dictate. A long tow cable will also be handy. We hope you don’t have to use it, but it helps to be prepared.