Canola

By David Jones, Broad Acre Agronomist, Msc. Agriculture

We already know that Canola is a very well adapted crop to a range of conditions in Kenya, and brings some great rotational benefits. But what about choosing the right canola variety?

canola variety

When it comes to canola varieties, don’t focus on headline yields; think instead about the functional characteristics of each variety

Essentially there are two very different canola variety options and it is very important to understand them and how they fit into different climates.

As a general rule, in warmer, lower rainfall areas Hyola 559TT is the only variety to consider growing. Bred for a range of tough, Australian conditions it is very adaptable to different seasons. When the yield potential of a site increases towards 3 t/ha however – in most average years – you will find that Belinda, a European variety, will yield perhaps half a ton higher.

In the reverse scenario, in a dry year with just 150mm rainfall in crop, Hyola might do 2-2.5 t/ha and Belinda would struggle to reach 1.5 t/ha.

So, in summary there is a small but worthwhile ‘upside’ from growing Belinda in a good year, but a big downside to it in a dry year. That is when you want to be growing Hyola 559TT.

Harvesting Hyola 559TT is also faster because of the lower biomass, although there is something to be said for a very competitive crop of Belinda for weed suppression. Belinda is very effective at branching and using the space around it, so if you are on a wider row spacings (+50cm) on a site with reasonable yield potential it seems from both trials results and my experiences that Belinda is a more suited variety than 559TT. Understanding these functions is more important than headline yields.

And don’t forget that if you are double cropping canola after maize that has received terbuthylazine or atrazine, Hyola 559TT is triazine tolerant so avoids the risk of crop damage.

Belinda canola variety

In the darkest green areas, a European type such as Belinda is a sensible bet, in the lighter shades of green Hyola 559TT is probably better suited in most seasons.

Centre of Excellence for Crop Rotation

There is no substitute for local knowledge and a commercially independent view, so talk to your local Agventure Centre of Excellence for Crop Rotation contact or a Cropnuts Agronomist to help choose the right variety.

Seed pricing

Canola seed is very expensive here, and as an Independent Agronomist I strongly feel that this needs to be highlighted given the vital importance of introducing rotation crops. Some varieties here in Kenya are costing 11,000 Ksh (110 USD) for a 3 kg/ha seed rate, that are being advertised in Australia for 4,700 Ksh (47 USD) . Likewise, 3 kg/ha of a European hybrid would typically cost 3,400 Ksh (34 USD).

What’s in the pipeline?

There are some very interesting varieties currently under examination in our trials including European-type varieties showing 10-15% yield advantage over Belinda, a faster and shorter version of Hyola 559TT that look really useful, and some Clearfield varieties that are tolerant to Group B (sulphonyl – urea) herbicides – very important for avoiding crop damage from herbicide residues, and in the future opening up the possibility of having Clearfield herbicides approved for the crop.

Clearfield canola

A headland showing very poor canola establishment where iodosulfuron was applied for Brome control in the previous wheat crop. This is where Clearfield canola would be extremely useful.

Keep Ahead of Net Blotch in Barley

Most barley apart from the later planted crops have received T0 fungicides (Growth Stage 25) and many are at T1 (Growth Stage 29/30) fungicide timing now. Although we have not had a great deal of rain, get in at the correct timing without delay.

There is very little curative activity in Net Blotch with fungicides, so keeping ahead of the disease and using fungicides as protectants is the only effective course of action. We do not know when the weather might change and increase disease pressure so do not try to be clever and cut corners.

Maize Preparation For 2019

Maize crop 2019 starts now. With harvest out of the way, it is really important to make a plan for each field to prepare for next year’s crop. Here are the key points to consider:

  • Soil structure – dig pits in as many fields as you practically can to identify soil compaction. 50cm is enough in most fields, and adjust the depth of cultivations to remedy any hard pans.
  • Soil testing – plan lime applications now so that it has time to work, and create individual basal fertiliser plans for each field. Sample anything that has not been done for 3-4 years, and test any different soil type areas separately.
  • Weed control – identify areas of Cynodon and Couch Grass and start dealing with them now. While there is soil moisture they will be actively growing and well controlled – do NOT leave it until after Christmas and expect to achieve good control.

Center of Excellence for Crop Rotation Agventures

Farming for the future requires a change of approach. Monoculture, soil degradation and climate change and soil degradation are threats to the future of how we feed the planet.

Agventure Ltd set up the Center of Excellence for Crop Rotation to help farmers diversify cropping systems and introduce techniques which have a long-term outlook to improve soil health.

The Center of Excellence for Crop Rotation works extensively with Crop Nutrition Laboratory Services Ltd (CropNuts).

Till next time,

Happy farming,

David,

About David

David Jones is the Broad Acre Specialist at Crop Nutrition Laboratory Services Ltd. (CROPNUTS). David has a keen interest in soils and no till farming systems where he has undertaken work looking into weed levels and changes in soil structure, and has extensive experience in field trials and in the development of precision farming techniques. In his spare time he enjoys playing rugby.