GFM Network News


Thirty was OK when canola plant populations were higher than 10 plants per square foot, and basically all the yield came from the main stem. Stands are half that now, and more yield comes from side branches.

Don’t cut canola too soon

Swathing at 30 per cent seed colour change is so 1980s. Recent surveys show it’s better to wait until 60 per cent — or later

Reading Time: 5 minutes In late 2020, the Canola Council of Canada surveyed 1,000 canola farmers from Manitoba, Saskatchewan and Alberta to check in on common practices. One notable finding is that 10 per cent of respondents still target 30 per cent seed colour change on the main stem when swathing canola. Another 26 per cent target 31-50 per […] Read more

The major risk factor for sclerotinia in your canola fields will always be moisture.

Capturing spores in the fight against sclerotinia

You don’t need to guess at sclerotinia infection potential in your canola crop — three tests are available

Reading Time: 5 minutes Sclerotinia stem rot is the most yield-damaging canola disease in Western Canada, yet payback on fungicide hinges on a “yes” to these three questions: Is canopy moisture through flowering sufficient for high levels of infection? Is yield potential high enough to provide a return? Are the spores present?  The answer to question one depends on […] Read more


AC Saltlander at Ken Miller’s farm at Milk River, Alta. Miller says the bare patches have an electrical conductivity reading of 8 to 12, and the salt on the surface looks like snow. AC Saltlander rhizomes will creep into these severe patches at a rate of about one foot per year. It can do this, Miller says, because the plant’s seven-foot root system will lower the groundwater level. This allows the surface salts to percolate downwards instead of being concentrated in the top inch, and this percolation rehabilitates the land for AC Saltlander to creep in.

Managing salinity with forages

Some saline areas can never grow a profitable annual crop. Two farmers share their experiences with seeding perennial forages instead

Reading Time: 8 minutes Some acres were never suited to annual crop production. As some farmers get a better handle on the profitability of each cropped acre, they are putting the most dismal of these acres back into perennial forages where they belong. Salinity is a common reason for chronic underperformance. Severe saline areas are sickly white, rimmed with […] Read more

Missing pods are a symptom of heat stress during flowering.

Canola flowers flounder in the heat

Yield loss can be more than we realize — highs over 29.5 C disrupt the flower-fertilization process, which can leave blanks and empty pods up the stem

Reading Time: 7 minutes Lindsay Wytinck was camping with her family on the 2020 July long weekend and did something she doesn’t usually do — turned on the camper air conditioner so they could sleep. “That was a first for us,” says the farmer from Cypress River, Man. “The nights were so uncomfortably hot.” Meanwhile back at the farm, […] Read more


The Dowling farm has three New Holland combines — TR96 from 1991, a TR99 from 2000 and a CR970 from 2004. All three were part of the PAMI combine loss survey in 2019, and losses were about the same for each.

Old combines hold their own at harvest

A PAMI survey finds canola losses can be minimized by operators who understand their machines and how to set them

Reading Time: 6 minutes When the Dowling farm at MacDowall, Sask., runs any of its three New Holland combines of various vintages, canola losses out the back are basically the same. The three models are a TR96 from 1991, a TR99 from 2000 and a CR970 from 2004. “I was impressed with how consistent they were,” says Sheldon Dowling. […] Read more

Apothecia germinate from sclerotia in the soil. They are tiny but can be in great numbers, releasing billions of spores that go everywhere. The ones that land on canola petals are the concern for sclerotinia stem rot and are the target for fungicide applications.

How to keep sclerotinia infection to less than five per cent

New research shows fungicide applied at or just after 20 per cent flowering is still the best way to stop sclerotinia stem rot from shredding canola profits

Reading Time: 6 minutes Like a detective piecing together the timeline of a crime, Dwayne Hegedus has played and replayed the sequence of events from when a sclerotinia-infested petal drops onto a canola leaf to the all-is-lost cleaving of the cuticle. The scientist with Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada in Saskatoon now knows, genetically, what arrows the pathogen shoots and […] Read more


Jennifer and Michael Doelman grew this crop of canola and 4010-type forage peas on their farm at Renfrew, Ontario. They will “absolutely” try the crop again in 2020.

Two farmers make the case for pea-canola intercropping

Growing two crops in the same field sounds like it could be difficult, but these two farmers have figured it out and say the result is higher profit

Reading Time: 9 minutes Intercropping is an ancient farming practice. Farmers in Meso-america thousands of years ago started growing “the three sisters” — corn, beans and squash — together in the same fields, letting the symbiotic nature of their biologies provide an overall better result than growing them separately. Strong cornstalks provided a “pole” for the climbing beans. Beans […] Read more

“Put two crops together, and you have less disease overall and the oilseed crop is able to take advantage of the pulse benefits in that year…”

Two research projects looking at intercrops

Western Ag Innovations run intercrop trials in southern Alberta

Reading Time: 4 minutes Eric Bremer is leading a research project on intercropping in the Lethbridge area. Bremer was involved in intercropping research as a grad student back in the 1980s and jumped at the opportunity to look at it again with the support of Western Ag Innovations owner Ken Greer and a research grant from Alberta Pulse Growers […] Read more


Bob Bartley checks on his canola stand establishment in early June 2019.

Getting to higher canola emergence

With consistent depth, placement into warm, moist soils, and good competition against weeds, your canola fields can turn a higher percentage of seeds into mature, high-yielding plants

Reading Time: 7 minutes Bob and Shelley Bartley raised some eyebrows when Shelley shared photos of their seeding tool on Twitter. The farmers from Roland, Man., seed with a 35-year-old John Deere hoe box drill attached to a new John Deere cart. “I bought that John Deere 9450 hoe drill for $17,000 way back when,” Bob Bartley says. “We […] Read more

To reach this point, there are a variety of things you can do to make sure your canola seed rises to the occasion come harvest.

At a glance: 10 tips to improve survival of your canola seed

Reading Time: 2 minutes Only about 50 to 60 per cent of canola seeds survive to become productive plants, on average. With the following tips, canola farmers can increase seed survival and get more from their seed investment. 1. Seed shallow. Half an inch to one inch below the packer furrow is the recommended seed depth for canola. This […] Read more