Canola School: Will this crop recover from all the early season stress?

(Kara Oosterhuis/RealAgriculture)

A cool start, delayed seeding, dry conditions, then wild temperature swings, a frost or two, wind shear, and relentless flea beetle feeding: that’s what the Manitoba canola crop has been through, and it’s only mid-June.

Angela Brackenreed, agronomy specialist with the Canola Council of Canada, says that while canola is a plastic and adaptable crop, stress such as frost damage and wind shear can not only kill off the growing point, but it can also make flea beetle feeding that much more damaging as there’s just less plant material to tolerate it.

In this Canola School, Brackenreed recaps assessing frost damage, wind damage, and how you might make the call to re-seed, though seeing as we are mid-June and not mid-May, that’s a really tough call to make.

“With frost, it’s more of a wait and see, but with shear you can see right away: Have you lost a growing point? Are the leaves sheared off? New growth comes from right in between the cotyledons, so you have to wait to see new growth. Mark some plant with flags, and go in daily over a week to assess damage,” she says.

Canola can produce a respectable yield with as few as four plants per square foot, but that’s only if that’s relatively uniform across the field.  Other challenges, like the forecast, pest pressure, growing conditions, and the calendar date all play into the viability of a thin and damaged canola stand.

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