Should you chase moisture when seeding?

April 30, 2019

Canola growers are asking whether they should chase moisture this spring across dry regions of Western Canada.

That’s a question Canola Council of Canada agronomist Autumn Barnes tackles on this episode of RealAgriculture’s Canola School. “If growers have to chase moisture down to 1.5 or even two inches, they’re putting a lot of pressure on those seedling to cover a lot of ground before emergence,” says Barnes.

But while seeding deeper requires caution, growers do need to react to their environmental conditions, adds Barnes. “You want to make sure you’re actually hitting that depth and not going further, because it is common to end up a little deeper when we chase moisture.” To ensure they’re hitting their target, she recommends growers check placement frequently.

Barnes emphasizes the importance of having adequate seed-fertilizer separation and the need to consider backing off fertilizer rates when seeding into dry conditions. “If you didn’t get a good crop last year, it’s (fertilizer) probably still sitting there.”

She says growers also need to keep a sharp eye on seed-placed phosphorus — no more than 20 lb/ac. (Story continues after the interview.)

One thing Barnes would like to see is more growers turning off their phosphorus for 100 to 150 feet to help determine whether there is any negative impacts from seed-placed fertilizer under these conditions. With emergence averaging around 50 per cent for commercial canola across the Prairies, she feels seed-placed fertilizer is probably responsible for some of that loss.

Barnes also offers advice on when to seed: “It’s better to have that seed in the ground and wait for moisture than waiting until the ground is moist and then trying to get in and seed and potentially cause some issues later on.” Wind is also a concern when conditions get dry. That’s when it’s time to adjust packing pressure, adds Barnes.

Canola School videos are produced by Real Agriculture.

You can find all of the episodes on Real Agriculture's Canola School page

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