Canola offers benefits for wheat producers when put in rotation
An issue facing canola the past few years has been exceptional drought conditions, he said, which has some farmers waiting to see what the potential production is in this area.
“Those who are adopting canola in the area are typically no-till producers, and an issue they have is maintaining a stand throughout the winter,” DeLaune said.
He said canola’s growing point is above ground. No-till conditions will have more thatch, so the hypocotyl of the plant as it starts to grow is a bit longer, and therefore the growing point is higher and more susceptible to freeze damage.
click image to zoomKay LedbetterClark Neely, Ph.D., Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service oilseed specialist, discussed canola production considerations. “We determined planting date and variety selection were the two keys to making a crop this year under some very harsh conditions,” DeLaune said. “Even four or five days made a difference. The optimum planting time is around Sept. 20 in this region. Anything we planted after Oct. 1 had complete winter kill.”
When selecting a variety, producers will need to consider winter hardiness and the Roundup Ready trait, he said. Another management decision will concern row spacing; most producers are going to 30-inch rows for better residue management for the no-till planter.
Neely said canola tends to be a higher maintenance crop.
“You are almost guaranteed to have some sort of an insect problem and producers need to scout their canola on a regular basis,” he said.
Aphids are the No. 1 pest, including cabbage, green peach and turnip aphids, he said. Diamond back moth larvae can be a concern when the crop is stressed from a drought or freeze because the insect moves down into the crown and does more significant damage. Harlequin bugs, false chinch bugs and flea beetles also can be a problem.
click image to zoomKay LedbetterInsects can be an issue on winter canola. But Neely said there are good products on the market to control most of the insects, including Prevathon, Brigade, Transform and Beleaf.
A couple of other management issues Neely mentioned concern harvest.
“Canola is not like wheat, where you can wait a week or so after it is ready to harvest to get to it,” he said. “When canola is ready to be harvested, you need to have the equipment ready and harvest because it can shatter, unless producers are prepared to swatch prior to harvest.
“It’s also important to have the ideal moisture content – 8-10 percent – at harvest time, because canola is high in oil and does not store very well above that,” Neely said.
Canola does have proven advantages as a rotational crop and producers are making it work, but DeLaune said, “With the conditions we’ve had, drought and a very cold winter, the jury is still out for some about canola and its adoption.”
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