Ontario Field Crop Report
2006 Canola and Edible Bean Seasonal Summary

Table of Contents

  1. Spring Canola
  2. Winter Canola
  3. Edible Beans

Technical information can be obtained at the OMAFRA Field Crops Webpage and Crop Pest Ontario. Referenced OMAFRA Publications include the Agronomy Guide for Field Crops (Publication 811), the Field Crop Protection Guide (Publication 812), Guide to Weed Control (Publication 75), and Ontario Weeds (Publication 505). These can be obtained from your OMAFRA Resource Centre, or by calling 1-800-668-9938.

Spring Canola

In 2006, Ontario farmers planted one of the smallest canola crops on record of approximately 13,000 acres because of concerns with marketing options and higher input costs. This seasons weather conditions were much more favourable than in 2005, resulting in above average yields, ranging from 1700 lbs/ac to a phenomenal 3500 lb/ac. Crop quality was generally excellent, although there were a couple of reports of canola not being accepted by ADM due to brown seed content. The early planting of the crop in mid to late April into ideal soil conditions contributed to the good yields experienced. Early planting promotes earlier canopy growth and row closure when conditions are cooler and more favourable for canola development. In particular, the optimum daytime temperature for canola is 20 - 25°C, with nighttime temperatures in the mid teens. Moderate temperatures and adequate soil moisture conditions during July and August in most canola growing areas allowed for good pod set and grain fill. The lower stress experienced this year compared to 2005 contributed to higher yields and improved quality of grain.

Green stems at maturity resulted in a delayed and slower harvest in some cases. The exact cause of green stem syndrome is not known. One explanation is that plants accumulate excess nitrogen and sugars in the stalk relative to the sink capacity of the pods and seeds. Without sufficient sink volume, sugars accumulate in stems leading to the green stem syndrome.

Insect and disease pressure was lower than normal, although sclerotinia pressure was high in some stands. Swede midge injury was identified in several fields of late planted canola in counties with known infestation. Swede midge is a relatively new pest of canola, and its potential to impact the crop is not yet well understood. Further information and updates on swede midge can be found on the OMAFRA Canola Page.

Winter Canola

Survival of winter canola tended to be poor in the southwest on heavier clay soils, and better in other areas which had well drained soils. Heaving and root rot appeared to be the principal factors affecting survival. Cool temperatures through most of May and June favoured development of a thick canopy and resulted in early pollination and good pod set.

Populations of cabbage seedpod weevil were lower than in previous years. Sclerotinia pressure was generally low in most stands. Yields of winter canola generally ranged from 1 - 1.5 t/ac, with good quality (Grade 1).

Dry conditions through August and early September allowed timely planting of winter canola this fall. Extremely wet conditions following emergence delayed plant development, with some stands not reaching the 4- 6 leaf stage considered ideal for winter survival. Slug pressure was incredibly high in places, resulting in the complete loss of some stands on conventionally tilled land, which is rare. Acreage is estimated to be similar to previous years (4 - 5,000 ac).

Challenges for 2007

Market Opportunities

Canola is a valuable rotational cash crop in shorter season areas of the province, but marketing issues have limited expansion in acreage. The Ontario Canola Growers Association continues to explore alternative market opportunities. The cause of lower grade canola due to brown seed requires further research.

Varietal Research

Several growers field tested a new winter - spring hybrid variety with encouraging yields of up to 3400 lb/ac. Growers plan to further assess this hybrid in 2007, including evaluation of very early planting. Spring canola hybrids display genetic differences in susceptibility to brown seed production. Additional field evaluations of this trait are required.

Edible Beans

It is estimated that over 80% of the edible bean crop has been harvested. Hopes of harvesting the remaining acreage is quickly fading. On going wet weather since early September has made harvest incredibly frustrating. A large portion of the early crop which received a desiccant in early September was just ready for harvest when the rains set in. Despite harvest difficulties, anyone able to get the crop off in a timely manner have generally combined above average yields although deteriorating field conditions resulted in high harvest losses. Coloured bean growers faced the greatest challenges, since direct harvest was the only option for salvaging the crop. The range of reported yields is from 14 - 30 cwt/ac.

Edible bean growers faced numerous production challenges this season from root rot, anthracnose, bacterial blight, white mould and adverse weather. Geography was a factor in how much these issues impacted individuals. Southern growing areas generally suffered to a greater extent due to a combination of challenges. Most of the edible bean crop was planted on time into good soil conditions with few replants occurring. Intense thunderstorms following emergence in some areas resulted in an early outbreak of root rot. Rainfall that fell over the province during mid to late July resulted in a large flush of growth in the late vegetative - early flowering stage. By late July, the crop was ahead of normal in development, ranging from 50% flower to early pod set. Frequent and heavy rains during this period caused root rot to flare up, often resulting in yellowing and wilting of some stands.

The most challenging decision during this time period when beans were at 10 - 40% flower was whether to apply a fungicide for white mould. Although soil moisture conditions were ideal for germination of sclerotia and plant infection, the high daytime temperatures (34°C) and rapid drying of the canopy prevented infection. Delaying application was the correct decision in most cases, as early infection did not occur. When cooler conditions occurred 2- 3 weeks later the result was a late infection of sclerotinia during early pod fill. Leaf symptoms of anthracnose also became evident in some white bean fields during this period. Early leaf symptoms were sometimes difficult to discern from other causes. Anthracnose quickly advanced to infect pods. Fungicide applications for anthracnose were generally very effective in arresting further advancement of the disease.

This was one of the worst years for bacterial blight. Leaf symptoms progressed very rapidly in some fields, resulting in premature defoliation. Foliar applications of copper based products were tried in some cases to arrest the blight with little success.

Growers who used Cruiser insecticide seed treatments generally avoided having to apply foliar insecticide for leafhopper control. Research trials conducted by RCAT using Cruiser have shown effective leafhopper control for the first 4- 6 weeks after planting, which in some years means season long control.

Challenges for 2007

Soil Compaction

Wet harvest conditions this fall have increased the likelihood of soil compaction. Edible beans are very sensitive to soil compaction and yield reductions of up to 50% have been documented. Tillage operations alone are often not enough to alleviate compaction. In 2007 select fields which have good soil structure, higher organic matter levels and have been in a good crop rotation. In some cases following a cereal/forage crop may be a preferred due to compaction concerns with corn fields from the fall 2006 harvest.

Plant high quality seed

Both anthracnose and bacterial/halo blight were significant problems in some fields of Ontario beans and both diseases are seed borne. Only plant certified seed from a known source where a rigorous field scouting program was used. DCT is the most effective seed treatment in controlling seed borne anthracnose. OAC Rex is the only registered variety of white beans with resistance to bacterial blight.

Pre-harvest Weed Control and Desiccation

Pre-harvest products are invaluable in controlling perennial weeds, preventing crop regrowth, and desiccating weeds and beans. Concerns have been raised with market acceptance in some international markets and in assuring safety and quality to the consumer. Delays in harvest of pre-harvested treated beans results in some deterioration in plant structure. Growers will need to pay close attention to timing of application and correct product selection for their target market and situation.

For more information:
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E-mail: ag.info.omafra@ontario.ca