Farmers got a good start on the 2014 winter canola crop, thanks to warm fall weather and good soil moisture, says Great Plains Canola Association agronomist Heath Sanders.
Freezing weather “burned down” most canola fields, Sanders said.
"This canola is in what I call dormancy or hibernating mode. It has melted down, just sitting there waiting on warmer temperatures and longer growing days. It looks pretty rough, but if you go out there and brush away leaves you see growing points, the crowns, are still alive.”
He recommends farmers check their fields. “I'm still seeing a tint of green across the field. In years past canola stayed a little green throughout the winter; this year we're not going to see that. We're going to see a lot of burnt leaves, brown leaves, white leaves, stuff like that throughout the field, but as long as that growing point is still green, it is still alive."
If you are enjoying reading this article, please check out Southwest Farm Press Daily and receive the latest news right to your inbox.
One difference from last year's crop is a healthy stand.
"We have a lot better stands," he said, "especially in northern Oklahoma,” Sanders said. “I've seen bigger canola plants, more robust canola plants. A lot of this canola was in really good shape, good size, before the cold snaps. A lot of good looking winter canola is out here this year. A lot of guys are pretty happy with their stands."
Producers should be alert to head off any potential pest problems before they get out of control.
"It is always good to check and see," Sanders said. "Turn over the leaves to check for aphids. But, generally this time of year, everything is kind of tucked away, waiting on greening up in the spring. That is when we will see some insect pressure, but it is always good to look and be aware of what the crop looks like. Check its progress to see if anything looks out of the ordinary.
He says producers should be thinking about top dressing at the end of this year or at the first of the next year.
Some weeds may creep in, but cold weather will probably keep them in check until about mid-February.
"Growers should wait until the weather is above 50 or 55 degrees for two days in a row to spray Roundup for maximum effectiveness," he said.