Canola in rotation proves promising

MELVILLE, Sask. — Agriculture Canada researchers did something unusual last year. They seeded a parcel of land to canola for the first time.

The land near Indian Head, Sask., had been used for a field pea rotation study for the previous 17 years, growing rotations of continuous peas, wheat-peas or wheat-wheat-peas, researcher Guy Lafond told producers at a recent Indian Head Agricultural Research Foundation Seminar in Melville.

The research centre started a new project last year, scrapping the pea rotations and adding canola into the mix.

Pea fields are susceptible to scler-otinia, but the old rotations didn’t appear to influence the performance of last year’s canola crop. The resulting numbers are encouraging.

Plant density was similar across all three sites — 65 to 73 plants per sq. metre — as were yields, which fell to slightly less than 35 bushels per acre.

“Even though we had a continuous pea rotation for all of these years … it did not exacerbate the problems in terms of diseases in canola,” Lafond told producers.

The plot will be seeded to wheat in the upcoming crop year and then canola the following year.

“If you do include pulse crops in your rotation, you shouldn’t be concerned about losing yield (in canola)” said Lafond.

Other Agriculture Canada re-search has also showed a rotation with peas outperforming others in dry years, he added.

Lafond encouraged producers to weigh the long-term risks of shortened canola rotations when making cropping decisions, as well as the threat of sclerotinia and blackleg.

He said last year’s results shouldn’t discourage producers from including field peas in their rotations.