As the weather starts to warm up and people are itching to get out into the field, it’s time to talk seeding rates for canola crops. Seeding rates are a key factor in plant density which can have huge impacts on the structure of canola plants, uniformity of maturity, and yield potential of the crop.
Target Plant Populations
The Canola Council of Canada recommends a target plant population of 5-8 canola plants per square foot. Reaching this target population requires acknowledgement of some of the risks that canola crops face – frost, insect damage, weeds. If it’s expected to have low seed survivability due to adverse conditions, that needs to be compensated for with a higher seeding rate.
Typically, a seeding rate that aims for at least 10 seeds per square foot will result in a strong and uniform crop. Any lower than this may start to show uneven stands which can be more susceptible to insect damage, weed pressure and uneven and later maturity which can all result in yield losses.
Know Your Seed Size
One of the first things to know when calculating seeding rate is the thousand seed weight (TSW) of the seed. Using the TSW to calculate seeding rate rather than just using a flat pounds per acre will give greater accuracy in reaching desired plant populations. This number can be found on the seed tag of canola bags. Larger seed sizes (a higher TSW) will need a higher pounds per acre seeding rate than a smaller seed size to achieve the same seeds per square foot. With many companies, including BrettYoung in 2023, moving to a specific seed count per bag of canola, calculating your seeding rate based on TSW is critical to making sure you achieve 10 seeded acres per bag.
Consider Your Field
Unique field conditions should play a part in determining seed survival rate – and therefore seeding rate. Keeping track of your emergence rate over the years can help to find a seeding rate that suits your fields best. Conduct plant counts 2-3 weeks after emergence and compare the plant per square foot that have survived to the seeds per square foot that were planted, this will give the emergence rate.
Factors such as soil type, moisture levels, weed and insect pressure that often affect fields are helpful to keep in mind as you think about what might affect your seed survivability this year. Management practices of seed depth and timing also have an effect, the earlier you seed the higher risk of spring frost, or cooler soils and unfavourable growing conditions.
Online Seed Calculators
Seed is a big investment, so knowing the appropriate seeding rate will help provide some cost certainty heading into the growing season.
Online calculators on the Canola Council website are excellent tools for growers who are looking for some assistance with determining seeding rates and how much seed to buy.
Once a target density value has been determined, it can be inputted into the website’s Seeding Rate & Seed Cost Calculator. This calculator also factors in seed size (the TSW measurement found on every bag of certified seed), which is another key element in the seeding rate equation.
If you would like to learn more about determining seeding rates for your farm this spring, or if you’d like support with your BrettYoung canola this season, contact your BrettYoung Regional Account Manager.