2011 Canola Summary
Table of Contents
Technical information can also 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.
Canola acreage jumped dramatically in 2011 to an estimated 70 - 75,000 acres, 50% higher than the acreage planted in 2010. Driving the increase in acres were record yields in the past several years, strong canola prices and the desire by many growers to plant more acres of winter wheat on time. The 2011 growing season was characterized by a wet spring, followed abruptly by a hot, dry summer; which stressed canola plants during critical flowering and pod fill. Despite the growing season challenges, yields were acceptable, the provincial average stands at 1968 lb/ac (with 78% of yields reported to Agricorp), which compares favourably to the 5 year average of 1983 lb/ac. Wellington and northern Ontario region enjoyed the highest average yield at 0.95 t (2087 lb/ac) and 0.93 t/ac (2039 lbs/ac) respectively. Northern areas had a near perfect growing season following very dry conditions during spring planting. Other areas were not as fortunate. Yields varied widely depending on rainfall and temperatures during flowering-pod fill and harvest conditions.
Heavy spring rains resulted in canola being planted between rains in 3 main time periods, early May, late May and the first 10 days of June. Agricorp extended the production insurance deadline for planting from June 7th to 10th in Wellington, Dufferin and Grey counties. Up to a third of the acres were planted after May 20th. Plant populations were lower than normal due to poor planting conditions and/or heavy rains following planting. Northern Ontario experienced a 4-6 week dry period at planting and growers found that packing at planting generally improved emergence. The wet spring in Southern Ontario was followed by hot dry weather which hastened crop development. Canola that was flowering or in early pod fill at this time took the biggest hit on yield. Flowering period often lasted only 2 weeks.
Pest Management Issues
Sclerotinia pressure was low in most areas except northern areas where heavy overnight dews resulted in greater infection. Many areas experienced higher Swede midge populations with damage mostly confined to the outside edges of fields. Late May - June planted fields had greatest level of Swede midge damage.
Growers harvesting by direct cut had to be more patient because of uneven ripening likely due to uneven emergence. In northern areas dry weather allowed for timely harvest with many seed samples testing at 6- 8% moisture. Southern areas experienced more rainfall during harvest, and seed moistures were higher than desired. Later planted canola fields were delayed in harvest due to weather and a few fields had significant shattering due to strong winds and heavy rains. Quality was excellent with a few number 2 grade samples for green seed. This was likely the result of swathing or harvesting too early or uneven maturity. Concerns of brown 'heat' damaged seed were adverted.
Most growers took advantage of the early planting season, and plant populations were often improved over previous seasons. Stand establishment is the biggest risk in canola production. Quick, even emergence reduces problems with spotty stands, weed competition, and results in more uniform flowering improving timing for fungicide application, and more even crop maturity reducing shattering losses. The two most important days in canola production, are the day you plant and the day you harvest.
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