Planting winter canola into wheat stubble can be accomplished successfully if producers follow some simple directions, says Oklahoma State University cropping systems specialist Chad Godsey.

Godsey, speaking at the ninth annual Oklahoma-Kansas Winter Canola Conference in Altus, Okla., explained planting canola in no-till situations has created winter kill problems in the last two or three years. However, research conducted by Godsey and other OSU agricultural specialists shows farmers can successfully grow canola in no-till fields if they just follow a few simple practices.

Special attention should be given to seeding depth, Godsey said. Seed should be planted from one-half to one-inch deep in the soil. If the seedbed is uneven, plant the tiny canola seed at one inch to make ensure good seed to soil contact.

Godsey emphasized the importance of keeping harvested wheat residue away from the row where the canola is being planted. He said a producer should make sure combines spread wheat straw residue evenly across the harvester's header to avoid clumps of residue in the field. "Running a harrow over the field before planting or even burning the extra residue are ways to ensure clean planting rows," he said.

Farmers should choose canola varieties to plant with excellent winter hardiness and low crown development. During winter dormancy, when the crop is not growing, it stays alive on the nutrients stored in its root system. If cold air and frost can move beneath the plant's crown and the soil, the canola plant's survival can be severely affected. Canola varieties with low crowns grow closer to the soil to better protect the plant during the cold winter months.

If you are enjoying reading this article, please check out Southwest Farm Press Daily and receive the latest news right to your inbox.

Another option for farmers who practice no-till and grow winter canola in rotation with their winter wheat is to increase canola seeding rates by 15 percent to 20 percent to better ensure establishing a crop. Increasing the amount of seed planted is a good practice when farmers have a heavy amount of wheat straw residue left in the field, Godsey said.

Switching to "wavy" coulters on the canola planter is a good way to remove more residue from the row where the canola is planted, he said. Using these coulters will disturb the soil in the row and push any extra crop residue out of the way.

Be sure to set sufficient down-force on planters before planting canola to get correct planting function. Godsey also suggested farmers should "get off the tractor frequently" to make sure the planter is giving a correct seeding rate and depth because soil conditions change across each field.