Though canola is traditionally seeded with an air seeder or a grain drill, Horsch conducted tests in Langdon, ND, in 2016 seeding canola with their Maestro SW planter.
“Typically with an air seeder we see some mortality rate increases,” said Jeremy Hughes, Horsch product manager. “Air seeders can be rough on seed as some of the metering systems can damage the seed, which increases mortality. Independent shank machines are unable to compensate for terrain because of gauge points of depth compared to your engagement point.”
By seeding canola with a planter, Hughes said the farmer’s gauge point and seed drop point are in the same place.
“This way you’re always compensating for ground ahead of you and maintaining an even depth,” he said. “Canola is a very depth-sensitive crop, and some of the air seeding technologies on the market today can’t compensate totally for a true accurate seed depth, which also increases mortality.”
When preparing to seed canola, the seedbed should be fairly level, as well as moderately firm and moist. If the seedbed is overworked, it can lose soil moisture and crust. A moderate amount of crop residue on the soil surface is also desirable.
Some factors that can hinder stand establishment in canola include: lack of soil moisture at planting time; soil compaction; water-logged soils; crusting after planting; or using equipment that causes deep furrows. To establish stand, these conditions need to be eliminated prior to planting.
There is a two-week planting window that will achieve maximum potential yield with canola. Seeding past the optimum two-week window can result in yield loss.
Canola should be planted six weeks before the first killing frost date for the area. Planting early tends to decrease winter survival due to excessive growth, and late planting doesn’t allow for sufficient root reserves to maximize winter survival.
Average seeding rates for canola with good seedbed preparation should range from 4.5-6 pounds per acre, with a final stand of 4-10 plants per square foot being ideal.
Seeding rates should be reduced if planted earlier than optimum and increased if planted later than optimum.
Maestro SW and high-speed planting
The Horsch Maestro SW offers precise placement of seed at 40-60 percent higher speeds, helping farmers manage their residue better without sacrificing seed placement.
“Some of the things that were interesting that we found doing canola with a planter revolves around seed costs savings,” said Hughes. “Guys in the Langdon area are typically seeding 5-6 pounds of canola per acre and we went in at 2.5 – basically half. Though we were only seeding half the amount of seed, we were maintaining the same yield or sometimes more yield.”
For Hughes, he said canola planting is all about getting the most of the seed you’re putting into the ground.
“If I plant 2.5 pounds of seed and am getting the same amount of yield as 5-6 pounds, I’m getting the most out of that seed I’m putting into the ground to grow a plant, instead of over-applying with an air seeder to compensate for damage.”