The Canola Council of Canada’s website, www.seedsmart.org,has useful seeding tips from drill prep to fixing a poor stand. The section called “Seed Smart Radio” has audio clips from CCC agronomists. Jim Bessel, for example, reminds growers to check each opener for wear. Openers in the wheel tracks of tractors will wear faster because the soil in these tracks is more compacted. Bessel recommends you swap these openers with others outside the wheel tracks, or weld an extra bead of steel on the front edge of these openers, or just replace them more often. He also recommends you level the drill side to side and front to back each year, and check all tire pressures to make sure they’re the same.
The website also has seven tip sheets under the heading “Stand Establishment Resources.” Here are tips from the “Early seeding” entry:
1. Where do you farm? Early seeding provides a greater advantage in the south because the summers tend to be warmer and drier.
2. Know the average date of the last killing frost. You don’t want seedlings emerging before that date.
3. Take the soil temperature. If the soil at your desired seeding depth (0.5 to one inch) is 4C or higher, most of the seed will germinate relatively quickly.
4. Consider a hybrid variety. They tend to emerge more quickly.
5. Use larger seed. It handles stress better than small seed.
6. Use a fungicide seed treatment.
7. Seed slower to improve seed placement.
8. Aim for a plant stand of seven to 14 plants per square foot. A plant stand that high buffers the effect of flea beetles, maintains your yield potential even if some plants are lost to disease or frost, allows plants to mature with less variability, and makes it easier to judge time of swathing.