Easing up on gas pedal boosts germination, emergence

BRANDON — Many Manitoba farmers have a lead foot when they’re seeding, and a canola specialist is telling them to ease back on the accelerator.

“Apparently, Manitobans have the need for speed when it comes to seeding,” Angela Brackenreed, the Canola Council of Canada’s agronomy specialist for Manitoba, said during a session at Manitoba Ag Days.

Twenty percent of the province’s farmers exceed six m.p.h. when seeding, according to a canola council farmer survey. It’s well above recommended speeds and likely to create a poor crop.

“There is conclusive evidence that shows that you get better survivability, more uniform emergence with lower speeds,” said Brackenreed.

Manitoba farmers tended to travel faster than either Saskatchewan or Alberta farmers when seeding, she added.

Brackenreed said the survey identified farmers with low and high yielding crops in each region and then looked for common characteristics of each group.

The high yielders tended to drive slower than five m.p.h., while 56 percent of the low yielders were driving faster than five m.p.h.

The crucial impact of seeding speed was obvious even in a research project that involved different groups.

One team that drove three m.p.h. was able to keep seed placement in a band from half an inch to 1.25 inches deep, while a group going five m.p.h. and trying to place seed half an inch into the soil ended up with seeds one to 2.25 inches deep.

“It just shows you what just a little bit slower can do for you as far as consistency,” Brackenreed said.

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