Published on Wed, 04/23/2014 by BASF Canada

Volunteer canola: one of Western Canada’s most important weeds

According to a poll conducted by Ipsos Reid, only one in three growers from Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba are following the industry best practice of growing canola once every four years. But, the profitability of canola is driving growers to focus on maximizing returns by tightening rotations.

Managing volunteer canola with proper pest management practices in tight canola rotations will be critical in targeting the highest yield at harvest time.

Agronomy Specialist for the Canola Council of Canada, Angela Brackenreed, says volunteer canola from other systems can present a lot of challenges in your canola crop and is why the Canola Council of Canada lists it as one of the 10 most important weeds in canola production.

Protect yield

“A population of volunteer canola in your canola field is still considered a weed. It cannot be considered a part of your crop or contribute to your yield,” said Brackenreed. Like other weeds, volunteers can rob crops of nutrients and lead to an impact on yield at harvest time. “You’ll want to plan your rotations so you have a herbicide option available to manage your canola volunteers,” added Brackenreed.

Control insect populations

Volunteer canola seed does not have any protection from seed treatments, so they can introduce seedling diseases and increase flea beetle pressure.  Flea beetles can damage canola plants very quickly and the preferred strategy to provide crop protection from the pests is to use insecticides that are applied with the seed.  

Manage disease pressure

Using an integrated pest management program is the best way to manage diseases like blackleg. “Rotation, use of a fungicide, and cultural controls are all potential pieces of an integrated pest management program in the control of blackleg,” said Brackenreed. “Volunteer canola and other brassica weeds, like wild mustard, are hosts for blackleg and really should be managed to help reduce the pathogen population.”

Maintaining sustainable and diverse pest management practices is extremely important when growing canola in tight rotations, helping to mitigate the concern of severe pest outbreaks and the potential for the development of pest resistance. In situations where rotations are tighter, rotating canola systems can be beneficial.

“The Clearfield Production System for Canola provides an option for growers looking to intensively manage canola acres,” said Bryce Geisel, Technical Market Specialist at BASF Canada. “The Clearfield system offers effective herbicides, like Ares, for residual control of multiple flushes of volunteer canola from other herbicide systems.”

Managing volunteer canola with proper pest management practices in tight canola rotations will be critical in targeting the highest yield at harvest time.

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