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Winter canola thrives in eastern Oklahoma

By Doug Rich

Josh Bushong (L), OSU Winter Canola Extension specialist, listens as Brent Rendel talks about the canola on his farm. The OSU variety test plot was planted on Rendel’s farm near Miami, Okla. The field tour was held on April 29. (Journal photo by Doug Rich.)

The 2014 Winter Canola Field Tour, sponsored by Oklahoma State University and the Oklahoma Oilseed Commission, stopped in Ottawa County, Okla., on April 29. Producers had an opportunity to view 37 canola varieties and hear from university and industry experts.

Josh Bushong, OSU winter canola Extension specialist, said this was the best canola they had seen at any of their field tours in April. The plots were planted on the farm of Brent Rendel, who is chairman of the Oklahoma Oilseed Commission.

Most of the canola acres in Oklahoma are in the central and western areas of the state, but Bushong said they have had good luck with canola in eastern Oklahoma.

“Canola does not like wet feet, so if you do have areas of your field that stay under water for any period of time it will not do well,” Bushong said.

Rendel said the field where the canola was planted last fall was in corn last year. The herbicide program used on the corn was 4 ounces of Corvus and a pound of atrazine applied last April. The carryover did affect the canola crop in some low-lying areas of the field. The corn was late last year and was not harvested until the third week of September. Rendel said the canola in the test plot was planted five days after corn harvest.

“Ideally I would like to let it sit and get some rain on it before planting, but we did not have that luxury last year,” Rendel said.

Rendel said he takes soil tests every three years. He used his wheat calculator when planning the fertilizer application for this field, and as a result this field only got 25 pounds of preplant nitrogen along with phosphorus and potassium. An additional 25 pounds of nitrogen was applied in February and another 75 pounds of nitrogen was applied just before the plants came out of dormancy.

The field around the test plots was planted to the conventional varieties Dimension and Hornet. Rendel has three fields planted to canola and they are all half Dimension and half Hornet.

Rendel is tracking the oil content on these two varieties and doing a population study. The results of this study will be presented at the Kansas Ag Research and Technology Association meeting next February in Salina.

Bushong said the plots were planted with a double disk grain drill at 5 pounds per acre. Most producers are planting 4 to 5 pounds per acre with open pollinated varieties and 3 to 4 pounds per with hybrids. The trial had both conventional and Roundup Ready varieties.

Roundup Ready canola varieties have been very popular in western Oklahoma where the cropping system has been primarily wheat on wheat for many years. Bushong said there are very few problems with resistance in those areas. Canola is a broadleaf plant and this gives producers more options for weed control.

“We are starting to see more interest from other seed companies in the southern Great Plains,” Bushong said. “We have around a quarter million acres of canola, mostly in Oklahoma.”

There are 20 million acres of spring canola planted in North Dakota and Canada and most of the companies concentrate their efforts on those regions. As acres expand in the southern Great Plains companies are showing more interest in winter canola.

Heather Sanders, Great Plains Canola Association field specialist, explained the options growers have for harvesting canola.

“The problem with canola is that it wants to shatter,” Sanders said. “We are looking at ways to get the crop out of the field in a timely fashion and reduce shattering.”

Producers can use an indirect method of harvest, swath the crop then pick it up, or push the crop over and then harvest. Sanders said about 90 percent of the canola is swathed, allowed to dry out naturally, and then picked up. That is because of time management. Swathing reduces the amount of time that the crop is out in the field. It also helps get the crop below 10 percent moisture, the level at which processors will accept the crop for crushing.

Seed color is more important than the overall visual plant or pod color when determining the stage of maturity. Research done by the Canola Council of Canada shows that the optimum stage to swath for yield and quality is up to 60 percent seed color change. Growers can start swathing at 30 percent to 40 percent seed color change without losing yield or quality.

Doug Rich can be reached by phone at 785-749-5304 or by email at richhpj@aol.com.

Date: 5/5/2014

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