to 50-bushel or more hybrid canola crop versus a 30-to 35-bushel-per-acre OP canola crop. The cost is justified if they know they can get those high hybrid yields. But if they’re in an area where those yields just aren’t possible most years, then OPs, with their lower yield potential and therefore lower fertilizer requirement, can pencil out.
Christy Hambly, territory manager for Canterra seeds, based in Drumheller, Alta., says some of the newer OP varieties have excellent performance even compared to hybrids. She describes Canterra 1818, a Roundup Ready variety, as a “very consistent performer.”
“It seems to do well in just about all soils and growing conditions across Western Canada,” says Hambly. “It is a bit deceiving because it is a lower stature crop, but it has big pods, stands well, has nice even maturity. It can hold its own with many of the hybrids.” Yield trials from several demonstration sites in recent years show the variety averaging 39 to 42 bushels per acre.
“It is not just a crop suited for poorer sites,” says Hambly. “Because it is a Roundup Ready variety, it is a good crop to grow on fields where you have weed problems you want to deal with. And if you do have a season where the crop has to deal with moisture or nutrient stress, it certainly can hold its own with hybrids.”
Ryan McCann, canola product manager for Viterra in Regina, expects that hybrid canola varieties will continue to dominate the market, but notes that OP varieties do fill a niche, especially for growers looking to reduce input costs.
Viterra carries OP varieties such as SP Banner and the new 9552 RR coming to the market in 2009.
Lee Hart is field editor of Grainews, based in Calgary. Contact him at 403-592-1964 or by email at [email protected]