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Things To Consider About Sclerotinia Application

As we come to the start of July and look out into our canola fields, we are seeing beautiful cabbaging canola that is starting to bolt. One of the big questions we always have from our growers is whether or not it is worth spraying canola for sclerotinia. As growers are facing tight margins and pricey costs of application, the question always is, “Will we see a ROI from a sclerotinia application?”

Forecasting Tools Available to Growers

Growers have some great tools that can help them forecast the development of sclerotinia in their area. Some of these tools include: Risk assessment maps put out for the prairie provinces that are available on the Canola Council Website, a checklist based on environmental conditions, and our personal favourite, petal testing. There is no method that is 100% accurate, but these different tools can help us make an educated decision. 

Conditions Favorable for Sclerotinia 

For sclerotia germination, spore production and spore growth, we need to have favourable environmental factors such as rainfall and soil moisture.  Summers with wet, damp and humid conditions are the perfect weather for us to see high amounts of sclerotinia in the canola. Another condition that is favorable for sclerotinia is a dense crop canopy. When we have these dense heavy canopies, we see a lack of sunlight able to penetrate through and evaporate the moisture under the canopy. 

Ideal Bloom Staging

When we are looking at doing a fungicide application for sclerotinia, timing is critical. For application timing, we are looking at between 20%-50% flower, and prior to significant petal drop. Fungicide application needs to begin when it is at 20% flower – meaning, we see 15 open f lowers on the main stem. When the number of open flowers on the main stem exceed 20, we are at 50% flower, and this is a sign that our application window is closing for fungicide.  Canola fields will be at it most yellow during this stage.

For more question on Sclerotinia and fungicide options, please contact your local Synergy AG agronomist. 

Flea Beetles: A Common Enemy of Canola

If you are a grower of canola, you’ve most likely come across a flea beetle. Flea beetles are one of the most common pests of canola. In order to grow a successful crop, it is important to have a basic understanding of flea beetles and the management strategies needed to control these pests.

Flea Beetle Damage

Flea beetle damage from feeding may affect crop development depending on feeding intensity, crop stage, and part of the plant that has been damaged. Adult flea beetles may feed on the cotyledons, leaves, stems, and seed pods of canola, mustard and rapeseed. During the larval stages, flea beetles may feed on roots. Heavy populations of flea beetles have potential to cause extensive damage and delay maturity, causing a reduction in yield and seed quality. Yield losses around ten percent are common in areas with infestations.

Economic Threshold

The economic threshold in canola is when average leaf damage reaches 25%, if flea beetles are still present and feeding. At this point, a foliar applied insecticide is recommended. If beetles are present, it’s important to scout your newly emerging canola plants for damage daily as feeding can advance from 25% to 50% damage in less than a single day, especially in warm and calm weather conditions.

Source: Canola Council of Canada

Identification & Life Cycle

There are three known species that attack canola in Western Canada. These species include crucifer, striped, and hop flea beetles. Of these, the crucifer flea beetle is the most destructive and widespread. Adult flea beetles appear twice in one growing season.

Flea beetles have a single generation per year, overwintering as adults within debris. These overwintering adults begin feeding on canola seedlings when they emerge in spring. Offspring appear in the fall and feed on leaves, stems and seed pods.


Scouting

Scouting in early spring (May to June) is imperative to catching a flea beetle infestation as overwintering adults emerge to feed. Monitor entire fields, more frequently in warm/dry conditions. Examine cotyledons and leaves of 10 plants in five different locations within a field. Inspect for small, round holes (shot holes) in cotyledons and seedling leaves.


Preventative Measures

A few simple, good management practices can go a long way in the spring to help prevent, or at the very least reduce flea beetle damage to the crop. A good crop rotation helps promote a good, healthy crop establishment. With a good stand established there will be more plants to spread the impact of flea beetle feeding. Seeding depth is another fairly simple way to give your canola crop the best chance for success. Take the time and set your drill for optimal depth. Fast, even emergence gives the tiny canola plants the best chance to compensate for flea beetle feeding and grow through the most susceptible early cotyledon stages. Finally, canola seed treatments have been a proven method to help reduce flea beetle damage. Standard treatments such as Prosper Evergol and Helix Vibrance will provide some protection against flea beetles. For extended protection there are other treatment options including Fortenza Advanced and the very well-known Lumiderm.

It’s important to monitor your plants in the early spring as flea beetles can do a lot of damage to the emerging crop. Feeding can happen on cotyledons, leaves, stems, and seed pods of canola. Preventive measures can be taken to reduce flea beetle damage including crop rotation, seeding depth, and the careful consideration of canola seed treatments. For further information please contact the SynergyAG rep in your area!

Considerations For Straight Cutting Canola

As we are coming into the harvest season here on the Western Canadian prairies, one of the questions that comes up frequently is whether or not to straight cut canola. Before we send our swathers to the auction block, there are a few things to take into consideration when it comes to straight cutting, and some of these decisions need to be made before pulling any harvest equipment into the field.

Variety

This decision is the first and probably the most important decision when it comes to straight cutting canola. Varieties that have Pod Shatter Reduction technology will hold up the best when straight cutting canola. This is the biggest factor when it comes to seed loss. The stand-ability of these varieties are usually much better. 

Disease Management

Once a straight cut variety is seeded, managing disease becomes the next most important detail. Diseases such as sclerotinia, blackleg, and clubroot can cause uneven maturity across the field, increase the potential for high amounts of pod drop, and shattering of pods. Management of these diseases can be controlled through crop rotation, variety selection, and fungicides.

Accessing Your Field

An ideal field for straight cutting is one that has a uniform canopy and that is well knit together. Fields that are not tend to have a higher risk of shattering loss. Ideal fields will have an even topography with minimal low spots. This will give the crop the most even maturity across the field.

When looking at the field, it’s important for a field to have a low population of weeds. The green matter from late emerging weeds can cause poor harvestability and can cause some dockage. Using a dry down product or a systemic herbicide is a great way to manage this.

Timing Your Crop 

When the pods are dry, and the seeds rattle in the pod when shaken, this is the ideal time to straight cut the canola.  Seed colour is ideally black to a dark brown, with less than 2% green count. Overall, moisture should be in the 10% or less range to prevent issues in the bin.

When it comes to straight cutting or swathing canola, there are many different factors that should be taken into consideration. The seed variety, managing disease, the topography of the field, and the timing of the crop are all important details to consider. Both methods are great options when it comes time to take the crop off the field.