Five timely highlights from CanoLab2017

By Nicole Philp


Consider these tips when setting canola seeding and fertilizer rates and while prepping for spraying season. These come from canoLAB presentations. The Canola Council of Canada and the provincial canola grower organizations hosted canoLABs at Regina, Sask., Vermilion, Alta., and Dauphin, Man., earlier this year.
Set a target stand. Current canola hybrids can reach their yield potential with populations as low as 4 to 6 plants per square foot. But these plants must be uniform and healthy and protected through to harvest.
Growers may find that higher populations reduce the risk of yield loss due to plant loss from insects, disease and frost, and improve weed competition, potentially eliminating the need for a second in-crop spray. Find your ideal plant population and seeding at
Review your phosphorus rates. A 50 bu./ac. canola crop removes around 50 lb./ac. of phosphate.
Over time, P rates below crop removal rates will leave soil P at very low levels where yield potential is significantly reduced. Soil tests and in-field test strips can help identify what is often called “hidden hunger” because P deficiency may not present clear, distinct symptoms.
Avoid spraying during an inversion. In an inversion – cool air at ground level with warmer air above it – this dense stable air near the ground will suspend small droplets for longer periods. This increases the risk of off-target movement.
Clear skies and low wind late in the day are signs of a potential inversion situation. Inversions can last throughout the night, so this slow-moving spray cloud can move through whole fields of off-target crops.
An NDSU factsheet on inversions says: “Spraying during an inversion never is recommended, even with drift-reducing nozzles or drift retardants. Drift-reducing nozzles or drift retardants still produce some fine drops less than 200 microns in diameter that are likely to drift.”
Take a beneficial safari. Tyler Wist, Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada research scientist, reminds farmers of the many beneficial insects that naturally help to manage pest insects.
By spraying only when pest insects reach thresholds, farmers give the beneficials a chance to do their job. For help with spray decisions and to identify beneficials, visit and also download the AAFC field guide, “Field Crop and Forage Pests and their Natural Enemies in Western Canada”.
Refine your disease ID skills. Blackleg and root rots are often confused when assessing the base of the stem (crown and tap root) for disease. A plant symptom like wilting could be caused by numerous conditions such as blackleg, clubroot or drought — to name a few.
Digging up plants and assessing the entire plant for symptoms and/or damage will help to diagnosis the potential issue and help to change management practices in future years. Find distinguishing features for each major disease at
For more canoLAB highlights, listen to the Canola Watch podcast series. Topics include how to set a target stand, how to identify an inversion and why you might need to apply more phosphorus. Find the podcasts at, under the “Tools & Resources” tab at the very top.

-Nicole Philp is the Canola Council of Canada agronomy specialist for Southwest Saskatchewan. Email her at

Photo courtesy Gregory Sekulic
Vincent Hervet leads an insects session at the recent Alberta canoLAB at Lakeland College.