Scott Effa is shooting for a hat trick after back-to-back wins in the King of Canola contest.
Effa-Toffan Farms near Norquay, Sask., was recently crowned Hudye Soil Services’ Canola King Challenge winner from last year.
Brother-in-laws Scott Effa and Justin Toffan achieved the winning yield of 71.57 bushels per acre, which is more than 2.3 times the provincial average of 30 bu. per acre last year.
“We’re definitely looking at three-peating, but there’s lots of competition around here with the contest,” Effa said. “It’s usually close.”
Nine producers participated in last year’s challenge and produced an average yield of 61.57 bu. per acre.
Although 71.57 is a respectable number, it pales against the record setting 91.82 bu. that Effa and Toffan grew to win the challenge in 2013.
“The year before had ample growing conditions. Last year with what Mother Nature gave us, we were very happy, considering the way the rains came,” said Effa.
Last year saw substantial rain in northeastern Saskatchewan during July and a shorter flowering period, which took away yield potential.
The contest allows producers to use any management strategy they see fit to obtain the highest canola yield possible.
Dan Owen, agronomy manager for Hudye Soil Services, said not much changed on the Effa–Toffan operation from 2013, other than a few tweaks.
They have adapted intensive management practices co-ordinated by Hudye agronomists on their 5,000 acre farm. A fertility package was designed around the results of a soil test the previous fall.
The partners seeded LibertyLink’s InVigor L130 treated with Emerge Canola by NutriRX, a micro and macronutrient stimulator package.
It was seeded at 4.7 pounds an acre using a Bourgault 47 foot 5710 one-pass unit with mid-row coulters. The seeding rate was eight plants per sq. foot. The package consisted of 90 pounds of anhydrous and a 35-10-15 blend. The crop was sprayed at the two-leaf stage with a first application of Liberty herbicide from Bayer, which was a low rate of Liberty Plus and Centurion for grassy weeds.
“What we did this year, which was slightly different, is we went in when the crop got to three to four leaf and top dressed another 20 lb. of nitrogen, 10 lb. of phosphate, three lb. of potash and four lb. of sulfur,” said Owen.
He said another small adjustment from the previous year was adding Syngenta’s Tilt fungicide for blackleg control along with their normal nutrient package using Energize Canola from NutriRX.
Bayer’s Proline, was used to control sclerotinia at 10 percent flowering along with a half rate of Recharge Canola from NutriRX and a half rate of Stoller’s Bio-Forge.
Another half application of Recharge Canola and Bio-Forge at a later date was used along with the Bayer insecticide Decis as a precaution for bertha armyworms.
They made a total of five passes using their three-year-old high clearance sprayer.
“They consider that machine now probably one of the most important tools on the farm because it gives them the opportunity to spray when they need to spray so stuff is getting done on time,” said Owen.
Effa said the chemical input formula they applied to their contest entry was also used across most of their canola crop. The field that contained their winning swath averaged 71 bu. per acre.
“General rule of thumb is everything gets the same treatment,” he said.
Effa said entering the contest year after year has helped make them more productive.
“You do learn by your mistakes and you definitely learn by your successes, but most of that is from Mother Nature, which you have no control over,” he said.
Owen has watched Effa and Toffin go from a reactive to a more proactive and protective mindset over the years.
“The whole ethos with how the guys are thinking now is we look at the crop and we look at what the potential is when we start,” he said.
“There’s no such thing as a yield increase.… That’s why they’re King of Canola for a second year because they view their crop differently.… They’re protecting what’s there to start with rather than trying to chase a panacea that’s not there.”
The competition has remained friendly and light-hearted among participants, but Owen said it has become a way to try new technologies and chemistries to see if they’re going to work.
“From competition comes innovation. The more competitive a person gets, the more innovative they get in what they do to achieve the goal they set for themselves,” said Owen.
“That’s important to me because as we move forward there’s so many new management practices, new things out there that a farmer can do to push the crop forward.”