Canola School: How much seed is enough and how much is too much?

Seeding rates are always a hot topic, and for good reason. The only thing more expensive than buying and planting too much canola seed is not having enough seed in the ground and losing yield potential.

Canola Council of Canada agronomist Ian Epp is often asked, “Can I lower my seeding rate?” as farmers are sensitive to the hefty seed price tag. But Epp can only accurately speak to seeding rate numbers if you can answer “What’s your emergence rate?” with certainty.

“Getting the right amount of plants in the ground, in the right area, is key to having a successful canola crop,” Epp says. The right amount of viable plants is the number you’re aiming for — and you can only go down from the number you place in the ground. Germination, seed bed conditions, seed-placed fertilizer, and pest pressure will all impact your emergence rate.

It’s not rare for emergence rates to drop as low as 50%, depending on conditions, Epp says.

How do we tally up emergence rates? Well, some math is involved, and you may have to practice your hula hoop throwing.

This is also a good time to evaluate your drill and your fertilizer placement, Epp says. If these things are monitored and addressed now, it makes decision making a whole lot easier next spring.