It seems that producers are being asked every year to select their canola varieties earlier. To get the best varieties available, this is a must. Canola varieties should be selected by the data that they generate. Selecting a canola variety early in the year is difficult because not all the data is available. This makes talking to your local seed supplier a critical step in selecting the appropriate variety.
Yield and agronomic data for a specific is critical in selecting the variety that is appropriate for your farm. At Cavalier Agrow, we run numerous trials at our various locations and this information is available to our customers shortly after the plots are harvested. This is a start to looking at what may be the best variety for our area and your farm. The Canola Council of Canada does a good job of summarizing data from various trials across western Canada. This is an excellent source of unbiased data. The various seed companies run numerous trials and include this data on their websites. Local growers will have comments on existing varieties. All these sources of information must be checked out to insure that the right canola variety is selected for your farm.
Yield is a critical factor in canola variety selection, but other factors must also be looked at. The closer the yield data is to home, the better it will be for your farm. Try and get out in the summer to see these fields and look at the varieties that may have potential for your farm.
Agronomics of the specific variety must be looked at. The variety must stand. If straight cutting of canola is an issue, the variety must have a slight lean to it. It also must be shatter resistant if this management practice is to be considered. Disease resistance is important. Know what diseases are present in your area and look at how resistance to the specific diseases will impact the varieties on your farm. For any variety that has specific disease resistance, look at what you are giving up in yield potential on your farm for this resistance. This must be considered as a cost to the gain from the disease resistance.
The most important consideration for variety selection in our area is maturity. In general, as we bring varieties north, the early maturing varieties yield closer to the top yielding varieties. This is why it is important to look at local area data when examining yield. Trials north of the Yellowhead Highway (Highway 16) are more appropriate for our area than the trials that are south of this line. They give a better picture of what the potential of a variety for our area is.
Selecting a canola variety for any farm is a major decision that must be made every season. Making this decision requires sound advice and diligence in seeking the appropriate information. Spend some time reading. Talk to your neighbors and your trusted advisors. Make the decision early. Selecting the right variety will increase the yield of canola on your farm.
By Dave Cubbon, P Ag