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Winter canola growers, researchers review production year

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By Jennifer M. Latzke

The 2012-13 winter canola season posed several challenges to producers in Kansas and Oklahoma. Farmers and researchers gathered for the annual Oklahoma-Kansas Winter Canola Conference in Enid and Altus, Okla., July 17 and 18, to review those challenges and to talk about how to adapt to them for the 2013-14 crop.

Oklahoma State University Canola Specialist Josh Bushong, and Kansas State University Canola Breeder Mike Stamm were on hand, as well as other canola experts, to discuss the status of the crop.

Bushong said drought during the fall planting season, as well as freezes in the early fall during stand establishment and in the spring at bolting really affected the winter canola in Oklahoma this year. One key to success, though, was getting stands established and controlling residue so that canola could emerge.

Bushong said farmers can’t expect canola to emerge through heavy crop residue on their no-till fields. The key to a good stand of canola is to ensure good seed to soil contact, and to move the canola out of the seed furrow. This fall, OSU will be conducting planting trials and evaluating different equipment calibrations to help with emergence issues.

“We’ll be looking at different equipment that we can use and that will let producers grow more canola under no-till situations,” Bushong said. “Mostly looking at row crop planters with more row cleaner options.”

He added that in western Kansas, some canola growers have had success using strip till units that will move the crop residue out of the way and allow not only that tiny canola seed to have good soil contact, but will also let the fertilizer have access to the root zone where it will do the most good.

“Also, make sure your drills are calibrated,” Bushong said. “Seed isn’t cheap.”

Bushong also said planting dates are a big factor in stand emergence—especially if the farmer is planting into no-till fields or is experiencing drought conditions. He said he’d like to see planting dates pushed back to late September or October for canola on conventionally tilled fields, and even earlier for no-till fields. This might help in establishing stands, overwintering and bringing the crop out of dormancy.

Stamm discussed the winter canola variety trials conducted in Kansas and Oklahoma this past season. He said that there are new private companies coming into the winter canola market with products, including Limagrain, Syngenta and Bayer CropScience. On that private side, many companies are looking into improving shatter resistance, but Stamm said patience is needed. Additionally, K-State is planning on introducing new Roundup Ready products.

Something that farmers should be aware of for the future are semi-dwarf winter canola varieties.

“These aren’t a reduction in the size of the total plant height,” Stamm said. “But, rather, the canola grows flat and prostrate at the rosette stage, which might mean better winter survival and give us a new level of winter hardiness.

“Farmers could plant earlier without that fall stem elongation that we see,” he added. Growers in Europe have had success using growth regulators on their canola to reach the same conclusion, but this might be a way to breed that into the variety.

Stamm said consistency in yields and quality are still a struggle, but they are improving each year. The 2010 yields are the target range, at about 40 bushels, or 2,000 pounds per acre. Diversified cultivar selection is important.

“Choose four varieties and one of them will most likely be the best one for that year,” he said. And, as interest in the region grows in winter canola, investment in seed development will grow too.

The Great Plains Canola Association posthumously inducted Mark Boyles into its Hall of Fame. Boyles, who died in 2012, was a leader in bringing winter canola to Oklahoma and the High Plains. Boyles started working in 2003 on canola at Oklahoma State University.

“Eventually, he moved into an Extension specialist in canola position at Oklahoma State to develop more time on this project,” said GPCA Executive Director Ron Sholar. “That became the Okanola project.”

“He was an outstanding mentor to the next generation,” Sholar continued. “They held him in the highest regard. Mark never questioned whether winter canola would work in Oklahoma, but only how to make it work for growers and the agribusiness industry. He worked passionately to make it happen.”

On hand to accept the award were Boyle’s wife Maria, son Brandon, daughter Katie, father Don, his brother Matt, and sister-in-law Theresa Boyles. Jeff Scott, president of GPCA presented the plaque.

Jennifer M. Latzke can be reached at 620-227-1807 or jlatzke@hpj.com.

Date: 7/29/2013



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