PRIME TIME: NSW DPI's Rohan Brill developed early-sown canola tactics with the research from CSIRO research scientist Dr John Kirkegaard. Photo: Julianne Lilley

Tactics key for early-sown canola crops

Sowing canola early in most southern and eastern Australian cropping regions can increase productivity and profitability by following ten key tactical guidelines.

The ten tactics include relating to location, variety selection, soil moisture management, seed placement and rates, weed, pest and disease management, soil nutrition and croptop/windrow timing.

The guidelines form an extensive three-year investigation was part of a Grains Research and Development Corporation collaborative research investment, through the Optimised Canola Profitability project with the CSIRO, New South Wales Department of Primary Industries and SARDI.

A total of 34 field experiments were conducted from 2014 to 2016 looking at the interaction between variety and sowing date.

The experiments were located at 14 sites, from Eyre Peninsula in South Australia and the Wimmera in Victoria through to the central-west slopes of NSW and the Darling Downs in south-eastern Queensland.

One of the project leaders, CSIRO research scientist Dr John Kirkegaard, says the traditional canola sowing window in much of the southern and eastern growing regions has opened in late April, continuing well into late May.

“However, changing rainfall patterns, disciplined summer fallow management and improved no-till seeding systems are enabling growers to capitalise on soil moisture opportunities and reduce production risk by sowing canola earlier in the season,” Dr Kirkegaard said.

“The project was established to quantify potential yield and grain quality benefits from sowing crops in early to mid-April and has focused on tactical agronomic requirements to achieve successful outcomes.

“We have been looking at varieties that are suitable for earlier sowing and how they should be managed.”

The Ten Tips to Early-Sown Canola guidelines, which was developed with Rohan Brill (NSW DPI) and Andrew Ware (SARDI), also details Optimal Start of Flowering dates for South Australia and includes a comparison of phenology and maturity rating or canola varieties.

See view the guidelines, visit

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