Take one year of field research work for what it is worth, but results of the first year of the Ultimate Canola Challenge across Western Canada shows that a deluxe, gold-lined production package doesn’t appear to do anymore for canola yield than a good
meat and potatoes program.
Research groups in all prairie provinces are putting a full bells and whistles canola production package up against the so-called standard canola production recommendations that have supported the crop for much of the past 20 to 30 years.
“There have been a lot of products and treatments that have come along in recent years all promoted to help improve canola yields,” says Ken Coles, research manager with the Farming Smarter applied research organization in southern Alberta. “So the Canola Council of Canada working with different research groups decided to put these products to the test.”
The idea over three or four years of field research at multiple sites across western Canada is to determine if this package of “new and improved” products and practices is really any more effective than the long-standing, perhaps “traditional” best management practices that have been recommended for canola growers for decades.
“So far, one year of research results, shows no significant difference,” says Coles. “It is only one year, so take it with a grain of salt.”
The Ultimate Canola Challenge trials across Western Canada are looking at 14 different treatments, each replicated four times. The most standard canola production treatment includes a seeding rate of 100 seeds per square metre, and proper fertility as indicated by a soil test recommendation.
That standard treatment is being compared to a range of other treatments that include higher seeding rates, higher fertility, use of seed primers, use of plant stress relief products, a range of micronutrients, and top dressing different products all said to help improve canola yields.
First blush of the field trials shows all the enhanced treatments did not improve yields over the a very standard seeding rate and fertility program. Coles speaking to farmers at a Farming Smarter crop walk of research plots near Lethbridge this week, says the one treatment that may be showing some visual benefit involves increasing the seeding rate from 100 seeds per square metre to 150 seeds to metre square, but again that is just a preliminary observation.
Research trials continue in 2014.
Lee Hart is a field editor for Grainews in Calgary, Contact him at 403-592-1964 or by email at [email protected]