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Organic canola takes higher seeding rates

Jeff Caldwell 08/30/2011 @ 12:21pm Multimedia Editor for Agriculture.com and Successful Farming magazine.

Giving organic canola a try on some of your acres? A new set of field trials shows a few key points to consider when getting your crop out of the ground.

North Carolina State University Extension crop scientist Chris Reberg-Horton led an organic canola field trial this year to gauge what is a "fairly new and promising crop" for his state's farmers. The potential benefit is two-fold; first, farmers have long sought a new crop to insert into traditional crop rotations, and secondly, the demand for organic canola is growing.

But, raising organic canola presents some specific challenges, namely with weed and pest control. While a desiccant can be applied at harvest to prevent shattering, no other herbicides or pesticides are allowed. But, you can make up for the lost pest control options through seed control, Horton says. Typically, the seeding rate for conventional canola is 3 to 6 pounds per acre. In the NCSU study, seeding rates up to 15 pounds/acre were tested.

"So far, we have seen no evidence that higher seeding rates are a problem for diseases or lodging," he says. "So far, 9 lbs of seed appears to be an appropriate seeding rate."

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