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Listen and learn at canola field day

deer in canola small

(Photo caption…When I took this picture of deer and canola the other day, two things immediately came to mind…this adds a new definition to a condition known as stag head in canola, and second, while every one else is talking about $10 and $12 canola this year, this poor southern Alberta farmer was only looking at five  and a half bucks….)


I always learn something at a field day. It’s not going to help me grow a better crop, but I always believe there are at least a few tidbits of information worth passing along to canola growers that may be useful, if not this year, then for next year’s crop.

I was at a UFA (United Farmers of Alberta – a large retailer of farm supplies and crop protection products and agronomy services) canola plot tour this week. The company has several of these demonstration sites across the province that showcase existing and new varieties from different companies and also different treatments. Along with company reps there were probably about 40 producers at the plot walk near Claresholm in southern Alberta.

Here is a brief summary of a few key points that caught my ear:

  • Of those attending, generally all felt canola and other crops were looking good across southern Alberta this year. Good moisture. Some hail damage, but generally crops were doing well.
  • Autumn Holmes-Saltzman of the Canola Council of Canada urged farmers to get out and scout their fields – actually check some plants. She pulled a couple plants in this field that had root maggot.  No real treatment, but at least know if it is there. Best cure is to follow a proper rotation. The same with other pests. Do sweeps, make a body count, and follow threshold guidelines. Spray if you need to, but at the right time of crop maturity. Be mindful of beneficial insects. Best to spray early in the morning or later in the day. Most products are most effective during these times, too.


  • At swathing check plant stalks for signs of blackleg. Pull some stalks and roots out of the soil and if you see black discoloration on the stem just around soil level, it may be blackleg. Report findings to canola council rep. You’re not going to be punished. They just keep track of blackleg prevalence. It is becoming more of a concern. Some surveys show 98 per cent of fields have blackleg, and often farmers don’t know it because they don’t check.
  • Can’t do much about sclerotinia after the 50 per cent bloom stage, but again check fields to get a sense of disease levels.
  • Surveys showed sclerotina losses cost the average Western Canadian canola grower producing about 640 acres of canola about $30,000 last year. So it is a disease with a significant economic impact.
  • Varieties are now on the market that have sclerotina resistance. They aren’t perfect. As Garret Cowan with Bayer pointed out with heavy disease pressure, you may still need to spray, and ideally that is between the 20 to 30 per cent flowering stage. Window closes at 50 per cent. Bayer’s Proline is effective and depending on the year and conditions two treatments may be needed. Each treatment costs about $20 per acre, but it only takes a two or three bushel yield increase to recover the cost.
  • Aside from Proline other sclerotina fungicides include Astound and Quadris from Sygenta; Lance from BASF; Quash from Valent/Nufarm; Rovral from FMC Canada and Vertisan from Dupont.
  • For blackleg control, Headline from BASF is an effective product. Ideally follow a four-year rotation, but if the disease is present a Headline application with herbicide at the two to six leaf crop stage is effective. Headline works with all tank mixes.


  • And also consider Headline for hail recovery. It is not a label recommendation, but many farmers have found spraying a canola field after hail damage helps the crop to recover. Rick Dwyer of BASF says a damaged crop immediately tries to set seed, so you could have a five inch tall plant heading out. An application of Headline diverts the plant from that seed-set mission, allowing the plant to grow to more normal maturity with improved seed production. It may make the difference between a 10 bushel crop and a 30 bushel crop. Farmers say it works on other hail damaged crop, such as peas and cereals as well.
  • Bruce McKinnon and Harold Ammerman of Dekalb talked about new varieties available. 740-44BL is a newer variety with blackleg resistance. With heavy disease pressure you may still need to spray with Headline, but some field trials showed a 17 bushel yield advantage between treated and untreated crop.
  • Dekalb has a new hybrid coming for 2014 and that’s 74-54. It is high yielding, a bit later in maturity, but has clubroot resistance. It is expected to fly off the shelf in clubroot prone areas, so order early.
  • Dustin Leskosky of Dow Agro Sciences reminded farmers Nexera canola is still the most profitable canola farmers can grow. Contracted through and by Louis Drefus it is expected to have a $1 per bushel price premium and trucking incentives are also available. Leskosky urged farmers to try the profit challenge. Working with DAS, Nexera growers can set up a program where DAS guarantees Nexera will be the most profitable or they’ll make up the difference. DAS figures show as much as $54 per acre higher profit growing Nexera. DAS canola breeders are working on varieties that will have clubroot and sclerotina resistance and also varieties with improved canola meal quality.
  • Autumn Holmes-Saltzman had to leave the field day early. She had a test to write in the afternoon, and the coming Saturday she was getting married, so her week was busy. She promised to have a simpler name after Saturday.
  • Lee Hart is a field editor for Grainews in Calgary, Contact him at 403-592-1964 or by email at [email protected]


About the author

Field Editor

Lee Hart

Lee Hart is editor of Cattleman’s Corner based in Calgary.



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