Ontario Field Crop Report
2008 Edible Beans and Canola Seasonal Summary

Table of Contents

  1. Edible Bean Summary
  2. Challenges for 2009
  3. Fertilizer Strategies
  4. Soil Structure
  5. Pest Issues
  6. Foliar Fungicides
  7. Canola Summary
  8. Growing Season
  9. Harvest
  10. Challenges for 2009
  11. Pest Management
  12. Managing Inputs

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.

Edible Bean Summary

Dry bean yields were above long term average across most of the province. In many cases, yields were higher than expected ranging widely from 10-35 cwt/ac. The provincial average is expected to be slightly above average. Final acreage will be approximately equal to the long term average of 155,000-165,000 acres. This is higher than initial estimates as a result of a late spring rally in contract price offerings.

Wet conditions at planting time challenged growers' patience in waiting for good soil conditions. Planting extended through the month of June and into first few days of July. Growers that were patient were rewarded with improved stands and higher yields. Some of the highest yielding beans were harvested from the last plantings. Fields with poor soil structure as a result of compaction, spring tillage or planting issues experienced significant losses.

The crop struggled through most of the season from frequent or severe rain events. Root rot and white mould were the most serious diseases. Fungicide control of white mould was frustrating, partially due to relentless mould pressure from constant wet conditions through flowering and early-pod fill. Anthracnose was evident in a number of white and black bean fields, but often appeared late enough in the season to not significantly affect seed quality. There were few signs of foliage infection when scouting for Anthracnose. Insect pressure was minimal through the season, although bean leaf beetle caused some pod damage. High numbers of flea beetles early in the season caused spotty damage, especially in areas next to corn fields.

Despite all of the challenges, yields were mostly above average with few quality issues. Early harvest conditions were good with average to above yields. Harvest was extended to late October due to planting date and wet weather. The biggest challenge at harvest was difficulty in pricing crop that was over what was contracted. Edible beans were not immune from the freefall in commodity prices. North American acreage of white beans was less than previous years, but above average yields significantly increased supply.

Challenges for 2009

Fertilizer Strategies

With record high fertilizer prices, soil testing makes more sense than ever to determine fertilizer blends for next season. Fertilizing to soil test will replace fertilizing to crop removal without jeopardizing yield. Nitrogen has become a significant input cost, without solid research or field trials to validate rates. Fully credit the nutrients from manure and plowdowns. Starter fertilizer has not shown a consistent response in research trials.

Soil Structure

Selecting fields with good soil structure is critical to success with dry beans. There is no input that will 'fix' root rot problems. Avoid fields with low organic matter and compaction concerns caused by wet fall harvest and manure application.

Pest Issues

The area infested with soybean cyst nematode continues to expand east and north. Edible beans are a host for soybean cyst nematode (SCN), although the impact on yield of various classes of beans is not known. For now, treat edible beans like a susceptible soybean variety in managing SCN in your rotation. Bean leaf beetles now over winter in Ontario and can feed on edible beans throughout the season. Western bean cutworm is a new pest of corn and edible beans in southwestern Ontario.

Foliar fungicides

Foliar fungicide application in the absence of disease pressure is sometimes promoted as having 'plant health' benefits. In preliminary research and field trials, these fungicides have not shown a consistent yield benefit. Further research and field trials are needed to understand and fine tune successes with these products.

Canola Summary

The 2008 season will go down in history as a year of record canola crop yields. The provincial average yield is estimated to be slightly above 2,000 lb/ac, surpassing last years' record average of just under 1,800 lb/ac. There was much optimism in the spring with record high future prices and an early start to the planting season. Although planting was extended into late May by wet weather, emergence and growth through the season were excellent. Growers planted an estimated 45-50,000 acres, approximately the same as the long term average.

Growing Season

Warm, dry conditions in April provided a window for a relatively early start to planting canola. Abnormally cool temperatures and wet soils through late April and into May extended planting of remaining acres into late May to early June. Planting delays were the greatest in the northern areas. Emergence was excellent with low flea beetle pressure.

Early growth was stressed by frequent showers on heavy and variably drained soils. Downy mildew infected foliage of some stands but remained in the lower canopy. June to August temperatures were near long term normals with very few days above 28°C (82°F). Rainfall amounts were generally above average with good distribution through July and August. These conditions contributed to a large crop canopy and excellent pod set. Sclerotinia pressure was high during flowering and pod-fill with significant visual reductions in infection levels where a fungicide was applied. However, in 2008 fungicide treatment trials fungicides did not significantly improve yields. Uneven flowering and wet conditions made it difficult to accurately time fungicide application.


Direct harvest was challenging due to a heavy crop canopy, lodging in some varieties and green stalks. Some growers switched to swathing the crop with some success. Waiting for green stalks to dry down or seed moistures to drop in order to avoid drying costs, resulted in harvest delays due to wet weather, as well as significant shattering losses. The provincial average yield will set a new record of over 2,000 lb/ac. Yields of 2500-3500 lb/acre were common.

Challenges for 2009

Pest Management

Sclerotinia is the most serious disease of canola, and soil inoculum levels will be high following this season. Canola stands that emerge evenly are more likely to flower at the same time which improves timing for sclerotinia fungicide application. Swede midge affected late planted canola this year. In areas where swede midge occurs, avoid late May to June plantings, or include a monitoring and spray program for control until more specific recommendations can be developed.

Managing Inputs

Record high fertilizer prices and higher input costs will require careful review. Soil test every field as the foundation for precise fertility programs. Sulphur deficiencies were noted in some northern growing districts this season. Many now include 15-25 lb/acre sulphur as 'insurance' in the fertilizer program. Results from best management trials did not show an advantage from using foliar boron. Further research is required.

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