Canola School: Stressors and seed survival

(Kara Oosterhuis/RealAgriculture)

Abiotic and biotic stress during seed germination and emergence will affect a canola crop later in the season. It’s important to recognize the different types of stress in order to determine what to do differently in future years.

Jack Payne, grow team advisor with Federated Co-operatives Limited, joins Kara Oosterhuis for this Canola School episode to talk about abiotic and biotic stressors that may have an affect on canola crops this growing season.

Abiotic, in a general sense, means environmental conditions that cause stress for a crop. Biotic, means a stressor that is alive.

Uneven seeding depth can create uneven emergence, an abiotic stress. A thin stand can have stranded and germinated seeds, depending on where seeds meet the existing soil moisture. Compounding the issue is a biotic stressor, such as flea beetles, which will attack the germinated seeds that have emerged from the ground.

“Seeding depth is hugely critical for uniform emergence with canola,” says Payne and in the video, he explains how seeding depth and soil moisture can affect the crop later in the spring. (Story continues below)

The risk of fertilizer injury to seedlings is also heightened during dry conditions. Soil moisture that should be taken up by the seed, is taken up by the fertilizer granule instead, drawing moisture away from the seed or causing injury to the seed from fertilizer salts that have dissolved.

Wind shear is another abiotic factor that will cause stress to the crop. Payne recalls previous research in direct seeding set-ups where stubble acted as a shelterbelt for newly emerged plants, which can be a huge benefit in this situation.

Wireworms and cutworms can be unpredictable biotic stressors, which are really important to scout for and there’s no shortage of tools to use: satellite imagery, growth stage models, insect forecast maps to name a few. These tools are decision support tools and as Payne says, there’s no substitute for boots on the ground.

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