Mike Nelson is all too familiar with the fact you can plan the best possible agronomy program for canola, but Mother Nature has to sign off first.
Nelson, who farms with family members near Westaskiwin, Alta., was the yield leader in the 2016 Canola 100 challenge producing a verified yield of 81.6 bushels per acre on a 50-acre plot on his farm. That was the top yield from any farm entered in the first year of the con- test which is looking for a farm to produce a 100- bushel canola yield. But Nelson’s plans got adjusted in 2017.
“We were hailed out,” says Nelson. “We had a few major hail events which affected between 80 and 90 per cent of our farm. We usually get some hail, but not usually as wide spread.”
Heading into 2017, Nelson had selected two fields that potentially could produce high canola yields. His plan was to apply a specific treatment program to those fields, hoping to optimize yields and then select 50 acres to be harvested for the Canola 100 challenge.
“But we really didn’t get that far,” he says. “The first hail storm hit June 20 and then there was another one July 23 so we just decided not to follow through with the yield verification step. Those fields were hit pretty good.”
With canola being quite resilient the fields did bounce back some, says Nelson. The nutrients were there and they did try a new foliar product supposed to help canola crops deal with and recover from heat blast. He’s not sure if it was the best year to make an evaluation, but one of the hail-damaged fields did yield about 70 bushels per acre — not enough to be a canola contest prize winner, but still pretty respectable.
With his main interest being to see how far he can push yields on his farm, Nelson says if there is no grand prize Canola 100 contest winner in 2017, he will plan to enter the final year of the contest in 2018.