Seeding depth

  • Seed depth assessment

    Seeding depth

    Use a seed depth tool to mark the depth where seed was found. Then use the blade of a shovel to mark ground level on the tool. Credit: Brooke Moon

    Seeding too deep is a common stand establishment issue in canola. This becomes clear as plants emerge, especially when some rows emerge earlier and more vigorously than others.

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  • Seeding in dry conditions

    Seeding depth

    In dry soil conditions, growers may be tempted to seed deep enough to reach moisture. This is not necessary from April to mid-May. The common recommendation to seed no deeper than 1” still applies in dry conditions. Here’s why….

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  • Seeding into moisture: How low to go?

    Seeding depth

    Tillage can make dry soil conditions even worse.

    In dry soil conditions, growers may be tempted to seed deep enough to reach moisture. This is not necessary from April to mid-May, and may create more harm than good at any time. The common recommendation to seed no deeper than 1” still applies in dry conditions. Here’s why:

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  • Seeding depth in dry soils: Early May versus late May strategy

    Seeding depth

    In areas with dry top soil conditions, growers often wonder whether to seed deeper to chase moisture. This approach differs based on the date and typical rainfall patterns.

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  • Crusting: Leave it be, hope for the best

    Seeding depth

    Only the few lucky seedlings that happened to be under a crack made it through this crust.

    There are no reliable solutions to crusting other than to wait for rain. Some growers have reseeded the worst sections of fields. A light harrowing might help if nothing has come through. Do a couple passes then assess whether canola seedlings are being ripped out of the ground. Harrowing too close to emergence can be harmful to a shallow seeded crop such as canola and may not be worth the risk.

    Using a roller may be worse than harrowing when soils are wet below the crust. Instead of cracking up the soil surface, a roller could turn the whole topsoil zone to concrete. Again, there is very little research on how to manage crusting. It’s trial and error.

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  • Dry and late: An exception to the shallow seeding rule

    Seeding depth

    In a situation where soils are dry in top 1-2” and seeding is delayed to late May or June, the shallow seeding recommendation for canola is up for debate. Seeding as deep as 2” to chase moisture may be preferable to leaving canola stranded in half an inch of dust

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  • Principles of good seed placement

    Seeding depth

    Growers are still better off seeding 1/2” to 1” deep and waiting for rain rather than trying to chase moisture in fields where the top layer of soil has dried out. The principles of good seed placement still apply. These are…

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