Custom canola seeding offers lower rates, same yields

Planters vs. seeders Cutting the rates doesn’t cut into the bushels

A recent ad placed by a custom operator in Saskatchewan claims that seeding canola through his JD 1790 planter at one pound per acre yields the same as 2.75 lb. per acre.

In an interview, Foam Lake farmer Morris Halvorson said the story gets better.

“I custom seeded 100 acres of canola at 2.75 lb. per acre for a guy up at Rose Valley,” he said.

“Right beside that field, he used his Seed Hawk to seed canola at 4.5 lb. per acre. They both yielded the same, but the corn planter achieved the same yield with 1.75 lb. less seed. On my own farm, I used the planter for 200 acres at 2.75 lb. of seed per acre. Then I did another 16 acres at one lb. per acre. Both fields yielded exactly 36 bu.”

So, if a canola seeding rate of one lb. per acre gives the same yield as 2.75 lb. per acre and 2.75 lb. per acre gives the same yield as 4.5 lb. per acre, does it follow that one lb. per acre will produce the same yield as 4.5 lb. per acre?

Halvorson isn’t sure because he has only one year of experience with the 2004 model JD planter and one year experience with the low seeding rate.

However, he said the obvious benefit is less money spent on seed.

His 2013 experience with the 39 foot planter on 15 inch row centres gave him the confidence he needed to advertise his 2014 custom seeding rates at $20 per acre with no fertilizer and $25 per acre with fertilizer. Fuel and starter liquid are an extra charge.

He said he got the idea from a Western Producer story about Frank Prince, a Manitoba farmer who sells Precision Planting equipment.

“He’s a pretty smart guy. He showed me how the Precision Planting metering discs can give me better singulation and spacing in canola. So I bought them.

“I was buying the 1790 anyway because I’m a dealer for Thunder soybeans and Northstar forages, and I needed the planter for custom soybean planting.”

Halvorson said it’s common knowledge that seed spacing is critical in corn. If two corn plants are close to each other, one becomes dominant and the other becomes a weed. The dominant plant wastes precious time and nutrients subduing the weed plant.

“Why would this be any different in canola?” he said.

“Spacing is critical. If you have uniform spacing with plenty of room around each plant, you can cut your seeding rate way back. I did some (canola) swathing this fall for a family member. It had been seeded at five lb. per acre with a Bourgault 3310. I had more canola plants in my field seeded at the lowest rate than this field seeded at five lb.”

Halvorson said the Deere planter with Precision metering discs gave him no problems. The only issue was determining the correct vacuum. He used a talc-graphite blend, which didn’t flake off or plug holes in the 60 cell plates.

He will install the 90 cell plates this year.

He thinks seed placement is only one of the advantages with a planter.

Another is that if he wants to plant seeds three-quarters of an inch deep and spaced two inches apart, that’s what he gets across an entire field.

As well, a planter with seed boxes is much gentler on the delicate seeds.

Halvorson said his farm is taking a different direction this year.

“I’ve been trying to farm 1,000 acres for the past 10 years, but it’s just not working out the way I’d wanted it,” he said.

“So I’ve dropped all the rented land and I’m keeping just the home quarter. I plan on using it as a demo farm, doing trials and test plots. The rest of my time I’ll be doing custom work for other producers.”

For more information, contact Halvorson at 306-269-7774 or [email protected], or watch a video at www.youtube.com/watch?v=DDmDMdR80vA.

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