Canola contest leader’s recipe for success

The leader of Agri-Trend’s Canola 100 challenge says extra nutrients and fungicide paid off on his 140-acre field

Mike Nelson entered Agri-Trend’s Canola 100 challenge because he wanted to determine the maximum yield he could pull out of a canola crop on his farm.

“It’s good to see what you can do and what the crop can do by pushing it to the limit on one field,” said Nelson.

The Canola 100 contest will award the first grower to achieve 100 bushels per acre in a 50-acre plot with the use of new John Deere farm equipment.

The winner gets to put 100 hours on each of the following units: a new John Deere tractor, air seeder, high clearance sprayer, swather and combine.

If 100 bu. per acre is not achieved, then the leader after three growing seasons will take the prize, which so far is Nelson.

Nelson operates a 5,300-acre farm near Wetaskiwin, Alta., with his father, Lorne, brother, Matt, and brother in-law, Tyson Kinsey. Together they grow wheat, canola and peas.

Growing conditions near Wetaskiwin were excellent this summer, and Nelson grew a whopper of a canola crop that weighed in at 81.43 bu. per acre, which was enough to push him into the lead of the Canola 100 challenge.

The enhanced fertility program he used also helped Nelson’s big canola crop.

“I probably used 30 to 40 percent more nitrogen and sulfur on this crop then on the other crops, just to see what I could do,” he said. “I don’t usually put that much on.”

The extra fertility and attention he gave his 140-acre field paid off.

what-it-takes-630

  • Seeded Invigor 241c: May 14
  • Sprayed Liberty, Centurion, Priaxor: June 7
  • Sprayed a foliar fertilizer: June 14
  • Sprayed another foliar fertilizer: June 22
  • Sprayed fungicide with foliar fertilizer: July 1
  • Sprayed another fungicide: July 8

“We did get a yield response,” he said. “We probably got 12 bu. more on this particular field than the rest of the canola, just because of the extra pass of fungicide and extra nutrients.”

Sixteen of the 80 farmers who participated in the first year of the challenge decided to pay the $1,000 fee to have their crop verified.

AgCall performed the yield verification for the competition, and an Agri-Trend representative also attended the verifications to en-sure the measurements were accurate.

Nelson said he was surprised to hear his crop was the leader of the challenge, and he plans to enter another canola crop in the competition next summer.

The field Nelson chose was a well-drained quarter section that he treated uniformly. He grew peas on it in 2014 and wheat in 2015, and the canola was direct seeded into the wheat stubble.

In the fall of 2015 Nelson broadcasted 160 pounds of ammonium sulfate (sulfur fines) per acre and then harrowed it in.

Gylphosate was used as a burn-down, and the canola was seeded May 14.

Nelson seeded Bayer’s InVigor L241C at a rate of five lb. per acre with a Bourgault 3320 XTC equipped with mid-row banders.

Sixty pounds of a sulfur product, S-15, were placed with the seed, and 90 lb. of nitrogen and another 10 lb. of sulfur were applied in the mid-row band.

Two treatments of Liberty herbicide were applied, and Priaxor fungicide was included with the first herbicide application to control blackleg.

Two more fungicide treatments were applied to control scler-otinia, and three applications of a foliar nutrient program were also used.

“I put roughly about 140 lb. of N on, only 20 lb. of phosphate, zero potash and 60 lb. of sulfur. Those are all actual numbers.”

He also used a foliar nutrient program but is not sure how effective it was.

“Every time I did that field, I did another field (applied foliar nutrients with his sprayer), and I didn’t notice any yield difference on the other field,” he said.

Nelson waited as long a possible before swathing to allow the seeds to fill out.

“I really waited. I swathed it at 80 to 90 percent seed colour change. I swathed it in the morning when it was wet so it wouldn’t shell out.”

The crop was left in the swath for about 10 days before being combined Sept. 22 and was hauled to the Richardson Pioneer elevator in nearby Lacombe, Alta., for weighing.

Nelson said he will likely use the same agronomy in next year’s competition.

“I’ll stick to the same program, maybe tweak it a little bit,” he said.

“Because of all the moisture we had — we probably had up to 16 to 18 inches (400 to 450 millimetres) of rain this year — I would have benefitted from a third application of fungicide. There still was sclerotinia present in the field at harvest. If we got that much rain again, I would try and do that.”

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