Canola irrigation Cultivation and irrigation management

In Asia, Canola, rapeseed or mustard/turnip are second largest edible oil producing crops after Cotton.

Quick Facts Canola Cultivation:

  • Hybrid canola generally has higher yield potential due to much improved varieties having larger seeds, early maturity and stress tolerant, than traditional, open-pollinated varieties.
  • Hybrid seed should never be retained for sowing because it will not produce true copies of the original hybrid plant.
  • Aim to establish 30-50 Plants per square meter, which can be achieved by sowing 2Kg of seed per Acre.
  • To ensure salinity does not affect canola yields, avoid land with high water tables (within 1 meter of the soil surface) which are also saline.
  • Canola crop can also tolerate more saline irrigation water than some other crops.

FAQs Canola crop management issues:

What Variety should we grow?

The main considerations in variety selection are maturity, yield, oil content, herbicide tolerance and disease resistance. 

Early-maturing varieties are generally more suited to drier and warm areas, and midseason maturing types are suited to higher rainfall areas.

What is the Optimal sowing rate for canola?

Canola sowing rate, germination percentage and establishment percentage, is a key factor of biomass at flowering and therefore yield. Low plant density crops can help in increased pod and seed production per plant; however, they are more exposed to disease, pests, weed competition and environmental stress.

How Much Sulfur we must apply to Canola Crop?

Application of Sulfur on early crop is only beneficial when soil limit root access to deeper soil reserves. Sulfur is more mobile in the soil and susceptible to leaching from the topsoil. Multiple trials in Australia have shown no yield or oil percentage responses to added Sulfur and also no significant N S interaction for yield.

Savings money from Sulfur fertilizer costs may be better used to increase Nitrogen (Urea) application as Sulfur deficiency can be identified early on and rectified early in-crop.

What approach should we adopt for weed control in canola crop?

Weed management is very responsive to crop rotation sequence. Cultural as well as chemical methods for targeted weed control can be successfully adopted by carefully planning a several year crop rotation scheme along with herbicide rotation.

Do we have pre-emergent Herbicide Control options in canola crop?

Grass weeds can be controlled in canola by using trifluralin or post-emergent herbicides. Herbicide tolerant varieties of canola have been introduced in recent years; however widespread use of these varieties without integrating weed management techniques is likely to accelerate the development of resistance to the herbicides.

Does Canola crop has a similar salinity tolerance level as wheat crop?

Canola has a similar salinity tolerance to wheat and much better than soybeans and maize.

Raised Beds canola Irrigation management systems:

Canola yields are recorded high in both moderate to highly fertile self-mulching grey or brown soils. Raised beds are ideal for irrigated canola, with optimum slope depending on the soil type and structure ensuring subbing ability. Raised beds are the preferred flood irrigation method allowing the crop to be watered up without soil crusting problems. Raised beds techniques encourage growers to irrigate in the spring without the risk of waterlogging the crop.

Raised bed farming system requires both crop zone and the traffic lanes (wheel tracks or furrows) distinctly and permanently separated. Land is laser leveled before bed formation, with the beds running down the slope.

Self-mulching clay soils are well suited to raised bed irrigation; however, other soils may be suitable with appropriate management. The selection of bed width will depend on the soil’s subbing ability.

All traffic should be restricted to the furrows where possible, to avoid compaction and, allow better water absorption (subbing) as soil structure improves

Bed width varies according to soil type and is typically in the range of 1.5–2 m. Some growers sow twin rows closer to the irrigation furrow, leaving an unsown gap in the middle of the bed. Disc seeders or tined seeders with narrow points are used to sow canola on beds. Row spacing can be flexible.

On raised beds, shallow sowing and watering-up is the preferred method of establishing the crop. Aim to sow and water-up between last weeks of October till first week of November. Sowing in the first two weeks of April is not recommended as it can lead to crops flowering too early and lodging. Good drainage is essential for higher yield.

Canola Crop Irrigation scheduling

For precise irrigation, the irrigation supply system must have the capacity to deliver sufficient water. Growers must understand the stages in canola crop life cycle. First irrigation must be done after one month of sowing with application of Nitrogen to encourage vegetative growth. Second irrigation is required when 25% of the crop is on flowering, foliar application NPK with pesticide helps in increased biomass and healthy reproductive stage. Boric acid is commonly used in the agriculture industry as a source of boron for liquid fertilizers. These liquid boron fertilizers are typically about 10% boron, and are used for soil and foliar applications. Third irrigation is essential at pod formation and seed development stage. Potash fertilizer play key role in not only filling pods but giving weight to the canola seeds and therefore increase crop yield.

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