A Canola Pricing Strategy

- canola field

Neil Blue takes a look at the canola futures market in a strong carrying charge situation.

Canadian canola stocks at the 2018-19 crop year-end are estimated near four million tonnes, a new record, according to Statistics Canada. The carryover at the end of this crop year is yet to be determined, but it may not increase as much as some have suggested, says Neil Blue, provincial crop market analyst with Alberta Agriculture and Forestry. He says the unfinished canola harvest and unknown timing of a potential resolution of the canola trade restrictions imposed by China leaves the 2019-20 canola carryover uncertain. Alberta Seed Guide discusses the canola market with the crop market analyst.

ASG: What is the current canola market situation?

NB: Cash canola prices are about five per cent lower than a year ago. The basis levels, or difference between the cash and futures price, is mediocre, which implies plenty of supply relative to demand. That is not an unusual situation for the harvest period. Because of a rise in world vegetable oil prices relative to canola prices, crush margins have strengthened, and that is supporting crusher demand.

ASG: What is the canola futures market looking like?

NB: The canola futures market is in a strong carrying charge situation, which is a reflection of the large canola inventory and currently restricted demand. That is, the futures market is significantly higher in successive futures months within this crop year.

ASG: Can you explain a carrying charge market?

NB: Carrying charges include:

  • commercial storage rates — as in a commercial buyer’s facility
  • interest — typically bank prime interest rate
  • insurance costs for that crop — a minor cost

A carrying charge market is one where the higher prices into the future pays all or a large portion of the costs of storing a crop from one period to the next.

ASG: What are the current carrying charges in the canola futures market?

NB: Here are the closing canola futures prices and spreads for November 12, 2019, in dollars per tonne.

 

January 462.10  
March 471.60 $9.50 above January
May 480.40 $8.80 above March
July 487.90 $7.50 above May

 

The higher successive canola futures prices are not a forecast for higher prices in the future. They reflect the current carrying charge the market builds in for storage, interest and insurance.

ASG: Can those futures market spreads be compared to a calculated carrying charge?

NB: Yes, one can estimate the commercial cost of carrying canola. Using the 60-day period of January to March and applying a commercial storage rate of $0.12 per tonne per day, 60 days storage totals $7.20 per tonne. At $462.10 per tonne for January futures and using a four per cent annual interest rate, the interest cost of carrying that canola would be $462.10 per tonne x 4% ÷ 12 months x 2 months = $3.08 per tonne. The sum of calculated storage and interest costs is $10.28 per tonne. The insurance cost is relatively minor.

So, if the canola market was trading at “full carry” with January canola futures trading at $462.10 per tonne, March futures would be trading at $472.38 per tonne. In this example, with the actual March futures at a $9.50 per tonne premium to January futures, the March futures is considered to be trading at 92 per cent of full carry (9.50/10.28 x 100). A futures market for a storable commodity that is trading near full carry is implied to be well supplied relative to demand.

ASG: What does that carrying charge mean to a canola producer holding unpriced canola in storage?

NB: It means the futures market is offering the producer a fee to store canola, but that storage payment is only collectable if the producer takes some form of forward pricing action. As time passes, that carrying charge erodes out of the market.

ASG: What contracting alternative is there to capture the carrying charge?

NB: Crop buyers may have several contract types. A deferred delivery contract is the most common one to consider in capturing the carrying charge by forward pricing with a buyer of physical canola. Those forward prices, the result of futures price minus basis levels, vary among canola buyers. To judge the best price, producers should shop among the various buyers for the best farm-gate equivalent prices for those forward delivery months. One can then determine how much of the carrying charge within the futures market is being passed along in those forward cash market bids.

ASG: Are there some other pricing alternatives that a producer can use?

NB: A producer with a futures account could sell futures in a forward delivery month to capture carrying charge. This strategy would retain the ability to shop among the various canola buyers for the strongest basis level. Also, it would avoid the physical buyer commitment of delivering No. 1 canola when quality may be uncertain. With this futures strategy, usually the futures hedge is removed when the canola pricing is completed with a physical buyer. Meanwhile, while that futures position is held, the carrying charge will erode out of the market, adding potential profit to the futures trade.

ASG: What about using the options market?

NB: That is another alternative. One could buy a PUT option for a forward delivery period. If the futures market falls during the period that the option is owned, then the option will likely gain value, capturing some of that carrying charge in the futures market. Buying an option has the trade-off of having to pay a premium for the price insurance, but will not require margin or incur any margin calls.

ASG: In summary, then, a carrying charge for a storable commodity reflects the amount of storage and interest that the market is willing to pay.

NB: Yes, and although a carrying charge market is a sign the market is well supplied with product relative to demand, some of that carrying charge can be captured through proactive marketing.

For more information on these strategies:

Neil Blue, Provincial Crop Market Analyst with Alberta Agriculture and Forestry.

Phone: 780-422-4053
Email: [email protected]

Keeping Blackleg at Bay

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If blackleg severity is increasing in your field over time, then the races in your field are likely adapting to overcome the genetic resistance in your cultivar. Photo credit: Justine Cornelsen, Canola Council of Canada

If blackleg levels are on the rise in your canola field, think about adjusting your tactics for managing this yield-limiting disease.

Blackleg-resistant canola varieties are an excellent tool for managing this potentially serious disease, but we need to take care of them.

“If we deploy the same genetic resistance over and over again, then we put a lot of pressure on that genetic resistance and it could break,” says Michael Harding, a plant pathologist with Alberta Agriculture and Forestry.

That’s the reason researchers are monitoring this fungal pathogen and its races in Alberta and the rest of Western Canada. And that’s why growers need to monitor their own canola fields.

“If you’re growing canola every year or every second year, and you are starting to see an increase in blackleg over time, that is an indicator the races within your field are adapting to overcome the resistance deployed,” says Justine Cornelsen, the blackleg lead for the Canola Council of Canada (CCC). Rising blackleg levels are a reminder to reach into your toolbox for some of your other tools like changing to a canola variety with a different blackleg resistance package and/or extending your crop rotation.

Cornelsen explains two fungal pathogens — Leptosphaeria maculans and Leptosphaeria biglobosa— can cause blackleg in canola. Leptosphaeria maculans is the major concern on the Prairies. Canola residues infected with this fungus release spores that can infect susceptible canola plants as early as the cotyledon stage.

The infection spreads down from the foliage to the base of the stem. The disease can result in stem cankering, lodging and major yield losses, especially if the infection begins when the crop is very young.

A Look at the Alberta Situation

Harding has been leading Alberta’s blackleg surveys since 2015. He says the province’s blackleg surveys have been sporadic over the past few decades with surveys conducted for a couple of years, then no surveys for a few years, then another survey for a year, and so on. A key issue was whether the person responsible for monitoring canola diseases in Alberta had enough funding in any given year to cover the survey’s manpower and diagnostic costs.

“I was in the same boat; I had some limited resources, but not necessarily enough to do a canola disease survey every single year,” he says. Thus, Harding and his group are taking a different approach. “We are coordinating the survey, but we ask for volunteers — people interested in canola disease could help out by surveying a few fields.”

In 2015, Harding’s group partnered with agricultural fieldmen in counties across the province. In 2016 and 2017, they received funding from the Alberta Crop Industry Development Fund and partnered with agricultural research associations in the Agricultural Research and Extension Council of Alberta (ARECA). Last year, and in 2018, they partnered with the agricultural fieldmen again. These surveys include blackleg, sclerotinia and clubroot.

“This has been a really big step forward for us in Alberta to have a consistent, long-term, annual disease survey in canola,” says Harding. “And it is thanks to partnering with groups like the agricultural fieldmen and ARECA. We’re going to continue with this partnering approach.”

They try to survey about one per cent of the canola fields in each county, collecting data on blackleg prevalence, incidence and severity. The table below summarizes the results from the 2015 to 2018 surveys. The blackleg levels were a little higher in 2016 due to wet conditions that favoured the disease.

Results from Alberta Blackleg Surveys, 2015 to 2018

Parameter 2015 2016 2017 2018
Number of fields surveyed 208 480 421 339
Prevalence: percentage of surveyed fields that have blackleg symptoms 70.7% 90% 82.2% 80.5%
Incidence: percentage of stems with blackleg symptoms 13.1% 21.2% 14.0% 13.25%
Severity: rated on a scale from 0 (no disease) to 5 (completely diseased) 0.39 0.42 0.26 0.24

Courtesy of Michael Harding, Alberta Agriculture and Forestry

Harding summarizes. “Overall, our surveys show blackleg is widespread in the province, but we generally only see 10 to 20 per cent of the plants with symptoms, and the severity on average is very low in most fields — less than one out of five. Meaning, the resistance in our canola varieties is working very effectively.”

Harding states the 2019 blackleg results could be quite different in various areas of the province. “In 2019, some parts of Alberta had almost no rain, and in other parts it wouldn’t stop raining. For southern Alberta, I’m guessing that the 2019 blackleg numbers will be quite similar to those in 2017 and 2018. But in the central part of the province, where they essentially had rain all season long, we could have much higher levels.”

To try to draw more information from the survey data, Harding and his group have started conducting a hot spot analysis. “The data points in the survey have a precise GPS location attached to them so we can map them. One of the tools in the mapping software can look around each individual point that has a high severity to see how many points nearby also have a high severity. If it reaches a certain threshold, it will tell you there might be a little hot spot there,” he explains.

“This analysis is one way we can distil down an enormous amount of survey data and say, ‘here are some areas we may need to look at a little closer.’”

They first conducted the hot spot analysis in 2018.

“We found a few spots with a little higher severity and maybe a little higher incidence. We don’t yet know what causes the hot spots, whether they might be due perhaps to the appearance of a new virulent race that is overcoming the resistance in our varieties, or maybe the local weather conditions pushed the severity a little higher.”

The 2019 data could help to shed some light on the cause of the hot spots.

“Since a significant part of the province had lots and lots of precipitation and another pretty significant area had almost no rain, that will help us to sort out what the biggest driver is of these hot spots: is it the weather, or is it something else like the crop rotation history or new blackleg races? After we do this analysis for a number of years in a row, we should be able to say with some certainty what is going on.”

Blackleg infection spreads down to the base of the canola stem, causing black cankering and yield loss. Photo credit: Justine Cornelsen, Canola Council of Canada

Three Key BMPs for Managing Blackleg

“Our top three best management practices for blackleg really come down to some of the basics for effective disease management,” says Cornelsen.

“Scouting is No.1. Monitoring is key to knowing if you have an issue with your resistant variety.”

She recommends rating the blackleg levels in your canola fields each year, especially if you are using a short rotation and if you think you may have a blackleg issue in some fields.

“The best time for blackleg scouting to help make decisions for future years is at 60 per cent seed colour change, right around when you would typically swath the crop,” says Cornelsen.

“You go into the field, pull up the plants, cut through the top of the root, and rate your plants on that 0 to 5 scale, with 0 being a clean, healthy plant that has no sign of black tissue in the cross section, and 5 is showing complete internal blackening.” Sampling instructions and the rating chart are available on the CCC website.

“You can use this severity rating to determine how much yield you have potentially lost due to blackleg, if you were above or below the provincial average [for the disease], and whether the disease level has been increasing over time in that field,” she says.

“That information helps you to make decisions the next time you grow canola in that field. If the disease levels are rising, then maybe you need a varietal change, or maybe the disease is so severe you need to think about extending your crop rotation on that particular field.”

Crop rotation is the second of the CCC’s top three best management practices (BMPs).

“Blackleg is very easily managed with an extended rotation,” Cornelsen emphasizes. “If you can move to growing canola once out of three years, you allow the old residue which houses the pathogen to die down in the field naturally. That will minimize the risk of the field having severe blackleg.”

“When blackleg showed up as a real force to be reckoned with in Alberta back in the 1970s and 1980s, it was managed with crop rotation. The one-in-four rotation with canola really came about because of blackleg — the fungus does not survive very long in the soil unless it has host tissue,” says Harding. “The lower part of the canola stem persists the longest; it is kind of a woody tissue that survives for two or three years. But once that breaks down, there is nothing left for the blackleg fungus to survive on, so it dies.

The blackleg fungus can also be seed-borne, but close to 100 per cent of the canola seed purchased has been cleaned and treated with a fungicide to prevent any seed-borne issues with blackleg, he adds.

The third key BMP is using blackleg-resistant varieties.

“In Canada, all commercially available varieties are rated as resistant or moderately resistant to blackleg. We are all doing this BMP already,” says Cornelsen. “The next level is stewarding the varieties better.”

Rotate Resistance Genes

In addition to the big three BMPs, one of the secondary practices on the CCC’s blackleg BMP list is rotation of resistance genetics.

Blackleg resistance relies on two types of resistance: major gene resistance, which is very effective, but specific to particular blackleg races; and quantitative resistance, which involves multiple genes that each contribute a small amount to the plant’s overall ability to resist the disease at stem cankering.

In major gene resistance, the resistance gene in the plant has to match up with the corresponding avirulent gene in the pathogen. For example, the resistance gene Rlm2 is only effective against races with the avirulence gene Avrlm2.

Since the 1990s, resistant canola varieties with the same one or two major genes have been widely used on the Prairies. That has put selection pressure on the pathogen to shift toward other races. Research by Gary Peng at Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada in Saskatoon and others shows some Avrlm genes have become less common and others have become more common over the past couple of decades in Western Canada.

Each year, as Harding’s group assesses blackleg severity in the stems collected in the Alberta survey, whenever they see a stem with blackleg symptoms, they cut off a one-inch piece and send it to Peng. Peng is currently monitoring the blackleg races in Western Canada. His group isolates the blackleg fungus from the samples and determines which avirulence genes are present. Harding also passes along the hot spot analysis from the Alberta survey in case that helps hone in on some areas that might be a concern for development of new blackleg races.

Peng’s research also suggests many canola cultivars probably have both major gene and quantitative resistance. Even if the pathogen’s population shifts to overcome a race-specific major gene, most cultivars have non-race-specific quantitative resistance that slows the pathogen’s spread in the plant and reduces the disease’s impacts on yields.

Canada now has a voluntary labelling system that identifies the major resistance genes in canola cultivars. At present, DeKalb, Canterra Seeds, Brett Young and Cargill are using this new labelling system.

“The old recommendation was just to switch your variety [if you noticed increasing problems with blackleg in a field]. You could have unknowingly switched to a variety that would actually be worse for that field,” explains Cornelsen. “Now that we’ve got more information, rotation of resistance genes has become a new best management practice.”

Growers and agronomists can submit canola stubble samples to a diagnostic lab to have blackleg races identified. The pathogen is very diverse, so most fields will likely have multiple races. The idea is to choose a canola variety with resistance to the main avirulence genes in the field, if such a variety is available.

“Right now, we have four major genes identified (some varieties are identifying a fifth unknown gene) in Canadian canola varieties. Looking at our blackleg race profile in Western Canada, there would be the potential to adopt an Rlm7 resistance gene in our varieties, to match up with Avrlm7, which is becoming increasingly common here,” says Cornelsen.

She is hopeful additional major genes will become available in Canadian canola varieties in the coming years. “A lot of the life sciences companies in Canada have access to materials with other resistance genes that are deployed in other countries. Also, researchers with Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada at Saskatoon have identified some new resistance genes, which will be available to the Canadian market. But it takes time — when you’re introducing a new trait or gene it can take upwards of 10 years to get the new varieties out.”

To evaluate blackleg severity, clip the plant at the top of the root and assess the degree of infection visible in the cross section. Photo credit: Justine Cornelsen, Canola Council of Canada

New Fungicide Options on the Way

“Fungicides are not commonly used for controlling blackleg on the Prairies at present, mainly because producers don’t necessarily see a return on investment within the application year. That is probably because we are missing the critical window of infection,” explains Cornelsen.

“Just in the last year or so, we have really dialled in on when the critical stage for infection occurs for blackleg on the Prairies. It’s the cotyledon to two-leaf stage. The plants infected at that very early stage will be the ones that suffer the greatest yield loss or may not even make it to harvest. If we can protect the plants at that early stage, we will really minimize the severity of the disease in some fields.”

Infection at this really early stage is not unusual. “The infected residue only needs a little moisture and temperatures around 15 to 16 C to start producing spores. [Often in a warm spring,] the pathogen is already releasing spores when the canola cotyledons are popping out of the ground,” Cornelsen says.

She explains the foliar fungicides registered for blackleg in canola are labelled for the two- to six-leaf stage, by which time the plants could already be infected. And even if the fungicides were registered for the cotyledon stage, a foliar application at that timing would likely be impractical. “Growers are often busy with planting when canola is at the cotyledon stage. And it’s tough to wrap your head around the idea of spraying at the cotyledon stage because you would be spraying bare ground.”

However, new seed treatments are on the way. “Within the next few years, we are going to have some new seed treatments coming on the market that can protect the plant at that critical window from the cotyledon to two-leaf stage. I think the new seed treatments will prolong the use of some of the genetics in our blackleg-resistant varieties.”

One of these new products is Syngenta’s Saltro. “We’re excited about what Saltro fungicide seed treatment will bring to the management of airborne blackleg,” says Scott Ewert, head of Seedcare with Syngenta Canada. He explains Saltro will provide a new tool as part of an integrated disease management approach, together with crop rotation and genetic resistance, to manage blackleg in canola, minimize yield loss associated with this disease and support the longevity of canola seed genetics.

This seed treatment contains a new active ingredient, adepidyn, which is an SDHI mode of action. Syngenta anticipates registration of Saltro seed treatment in time for use in the 2021 growing season. “What’s unique about Saltro is it will provide protection against airborne blackleg at canola emergence through what we now know to be a critical infection period for the disease, the cotyledon stage,” says Ewert.

“With blackleg management, we can’t rely on just one tool,” says Cornelsen. “I know we put our resistant cultivars up on a pedestal, but we’ve got to look at prolonging their longevity and using all of our management tools. Crop rotation and scouting are really key pieces to managing this disease.”

 

Alberta Canola Producers Commission Announces Region 4 Director Election Results

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Alberta canola growers in Region 4 have elected John Mayko of Mundare to represent them on the Board of the Alberta Canola Producers Commission. John ran against Kyle Tarkowski of Two Hills, Alberta. This will be John’s second three-year term as Director representing Region 4.

“I would like to thank John and Kyle for stepping forward and letting their names stand for election.” said Alberta Canola Chair John Guelly, “It is very encouraging to see interest in the organization and supporting fellow canola growers.”

All 1,643 eligible canola growers in the region were mailed a ballot last November to allow them to participate in the mail-in election for the Director of Region 4. The deadline for returning ballots was January 3, 2020

Region 4 is made up of the area that is included in the following: (a) Beaver County; (b) Strathcona County; (c) County of Two Hills No. 21; (d) County of Minburn No. 27; (e) Lamont County; (f) Improvement District No. 13 (Elk Island); (g) any city, town, village or summer village that is encompassed by the area described in clauses (a) to (f).

A full list of the Board of Directors and and their contact information can be found on albertacanola.com.

Alberta Canola Director Nomination Results

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The call for nominations for farmers to serve on the Board of Directors of the Alberta Canola Producers Commission resulted in two canola producers being re-elected by acclamation, while elections will be held in two regions to determine the director. The nomination deadline was October 31, 2019.

Dan Doll from Fairview will serve a second term as director in Region 1, and Cale Staden from Vermilion will serve a second term as director for Region 10.

Region 4 will see an election between John Mayko of Mundare and Kyle Tarkowski of Myrnam.   The two candidates will be given the opportunity to speak to producers at the regional meeting in Vegreville on November 20. Eligible producers in region 4 will be mailed an information package and a voting ballot before November 30th. Ballots will be counted on January 3, 2020.

Region 7 will see an election between Mike Ammeter of Sylvan Lake and Steven Olson of Wetaskiwin. The two candidates will be given the opportunity to speak to producers at the regional meeting in Lacombe on November 19. Eligible producers in region 7 will be mailed an information package and a voting ballot before November 30th. Ballots will be counted on January 3, 2020.

Directors on Alberta Canola may serve two consecutive three-year terms on the Board of Alberta Canola. Directors terms begin immediately following the Annual General Meeting to be held on January 28, 2020.

For more information on the Alberta Canola regions visit: albertacanola.com/regions

Alberta Canola is hosting 12 regional meetings from November 19 -28, 2020. For complete details and to register please visit albertacanola.com/PYP

Source: Alberta Canola

Green Seed – Common Questions

- Flowering canola in a field

What causes high green? Most green seed issues result when heavy frost hits canola before the seeds mature. This permanently stops the chlorophyll-clearing process and locks in green. Nothing can be done to reduce this green. In other cases, cutting canola too green or in hot weather that leads to fast dry down can trap green in the seeds. This green can clear if the canola has not experienced a frost and the seeds are re-wetted and warm – which can restart the enzyme process.

Why is green seed a problem for processors? Green canola seed usually has issues other than just high chlorophyll levels. Canola delivered with high levels of green seed was probably swathed immature or was frozen before it had a chance to fully cure. Therefore canola with high green seed content also tends to have smaller seeds, more damaged seeds and a lower overall oil content per tonne of seed delivered. High amounts of green chlorophyll in the seed also increase the processing cost because the chlorophyll must be removed to produce the light-coloured oil customers expect. Processors use a clay filtration process, adding “Fuller’s earth” or “montmorillonite clay” to the oil. Chlorophyll molecules bond with the clay particles. The clay is then filtered out, taking the chlorophyll with it. Canola oil with higher chlorophyll content will require more clay and possibly more passes with the clay to remove that chlorophyll, adding to the cost required to clarify the oil. (This is from a September 2015 Canola Digest article called “Top grade oil”)

Why does green increase the storage risk? Research has shown that green canola seeds can increase the storage risk, even if canola is dry and cool, but we’re not sure why. It could be that small shriveled canola seed, which often comes with high green seed, can mean smaller air pockets between seeds in the bin. Smaller particles will increase the resistance to air flow. This makes it even more important to leave the fan on as it will need to work longer to cool the entire bulk.

Will green seed go down in the dryer? Drying can shrivel up green immature seeds, which might seem to have a benefit, but it does not reduce the green in mature seed.

Will green content go down over time in storage? It may drop slightly in storage, but significant movement – enough to improve grade – is not likely. Make sure you have an accurate sample of grain entering the bin to check this. Read more.

What are the grading factors for green seed? No.1 canola may contain up to 2% distinctly green seeds and a maximum of 5% damaged seed (including green). No.2 is 6% distinctly green and 12% total damaged seed. No.3 is 20% distinctly green and 25% total damaged seed. Anything above that is sample. The Canadian Grain Commission’s Official Grain Grading Guide says damaged seed includes canola seeds that are: Distinctly shrunken or shriveled; badly discoloured from mould; completely and densely covered with rime (which is the lining of the pod adhered to the seed); excessively weathered, sprouted, tan coloured, distinctly green, heated, insect damaged or otherwise damaged.

What happens to green seed when it overwinters in the field? We don’t have research on this, but we assume that green locked in by frost will remain. Any by now, most fields will have been hit by heavy frost. In the CGC quality report for canola harvested in spring 2017, there was no statistical difference in chlorophyll content for seeds harvested in the fall versus spring. See Table 4 here.

Source: Canola Watch

Canola Quality With Winter Or Spring Harvest

- Canola field under blue sky

Combining canola after the ground has frozen can work fairly well, especially for standing crop. In fact, when putting ice and snow covered canola plants through the combine, colder temperatures (-10°C to -20°C) may be better than temperatures around 0°C. That’s because ice and snow may stay frozen as it move through the combine, reducing the amount of moisture reaching the grain tank.

QUALITY OF OVER-WINTERED CANOLA – 2016-17 EXPERIENCE

Canola harvest was delayed in 2016, with millions of acres harvested in November and December and the following spring. The Canadian Grain Commission reported on the quality of late-harvested and spring-harvested canola, using samples sent in through its Harvest Sample Program. Of those samples, 60% graded No. 1 or 2.

Here is an excerpt from the spring report:

“Of the 161 spring canola samples, 55 were graded No.1 Canada (34.2%), 41 were graded No.2 Canada (25.5%), 33 samples graded No.3 Canada (20.5%) and 32 samples graded Sample (19.9%), respectively. Samples were downgraded due to the high levels of total damaged seeds associated with sour, musty and rancid odors. The seed color was not natural; an orange tint was observed once the seeds were crushed. It is likely that some producers did not send in samples when they determined that their spring canola seeds were of very low quality.”

Higher free-fatty acids in spring-harvested canola. As a result, spring-harvested canola can be less stable in storage so it should be delivered and processed soon after harvest. .Here’s an excerpt from a Canola Digest article:

“Processors also pay attention to free fatty acids (FFAs) in the oil. These oxidize (go rancid) quickly and affect the smell and taste of oil, so they have to be removed in processing. Processing companies have a cap of 0.5 or 1.0 per cent FFAs on the canola they’ll accept without penalty. This is usually easily achieved. Average FFAs content was 0.17 per cent over the past five years. The trend is flat, but some regions have weather-related blips. Manitoba averages were 0.34 and 0.33 per cent in 2016 and 2015, mostly due to hot summers. Canola spring-harvested in Alberta and Saskatchewan in 2017 also had high in FFAs. CGC research on spring-harvested canola in 2017 found it to be less stable, showing a rapid rise in FFAs after just one month in storage. “For that reason, farmers may want to sell spring-harvested canola right away and processors may want to crush it right away,” says Veronique Barthet of the CGC.

For more on FFAs, what are they and how they degrade oil quality, this article will be helpful.

Harvest Sample Program. Growers who participate in the Canadian Grain Commission’s Harvest Sample Program get an unofficial grade, including dockage, oil content and chlorophyll (green) content for their canola. The CGC also uses the results to estimate the overall quality of Canada’s canola crop. Register online to receive a harvest sample kit.  Samples are accepted until the end of November but send as soon a harvest is complete. The program accepts samples from a number of key crops, including major oilseed, cereal and pulse crops grown in Canada.

Source: Canola Watch

Best Time For… Tips For Various Harvest-Time Scenarios

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Best time to spray perennial weeds. If you have a canola field with a lot of perennial weed escapes, especially Canada thistle, are you better to spray them pre-harvest or post-harvest for maximum efficacy? There are benefits to both options. Read more.

Best time for a disease survey. The ideal time is around 60 per cent seed colour change when diseases are at their peak, relatively easy to distinguish and identification is not yet confused by the saprophytic fungi that can set in as plants dry down. Verticillium is one disease that can be more obvious and easier to identify after cutting a canola crop. As the plant dies, verticillium microsclerotia — if present — will start to grow under the stem’s skin. Read more about post harvest scouting tips for verticillium and other diseases. Post harvest is also OK for soil tests to check for clubroot and stubble tests for blackleg pathogens.

Best time for pre-harvest glyphosate. It is critical to wait until seed moisture content is less than 30% in the least-mature areas of the crop before applying glyphosate. Applications made before the correct stage increase the risk of unacceptable residue in the seed. By waiting until 50 to 60% seed colour change in the least-mature areas of the field, growers can be confident seed moisture will be at less than 30%. VIDEO with more tips.

Best time for pre-harvest Reglone. Diquat (Reglone Ion) stops maturity, so anything too green when sprayed will stay green. The risk with an uneven crop is that chlorophyll levels will be locked in, which is why Diquat should not be used on crops with extreme variation in maturity. Diquat application timing is 90% brown seeds. At this stage, all but 10% of the seeds on the very top and outer most branches haven’t completely turned black or brown. This is very different from a seed colour change (SCC) measurement that only refers to the main stem and includes any seeds with a degree of speckling or mottling. Syngenta provides the following tips on how to stage the crop: (1) Survey the field. Look for brown colouring in the upper pods and stems. You should not see any yellow or green. (2) Listen for a rattle in your pods. Mature seeds are loose in the pod and rattle when the plant is shaken. (3) Look for brown seeds. Strip out seeds from several areas of the field. The crop is ready when 90% of each plant has seeds that have turned completely brown. Syngenta supports the use of Reglone Ion on shatter-tolerant canola only.

Best time for pre-harvest Heat LQ. Saflufenacil (Heat LQ) has a labelled application rate of 60-75% brown seed, although most recent BASF literature recommends 80% brown seed. Talk to your rep about the application timing they support.

Best time to swath. Waiting until at least 60% seed colour change on the main stem is the best time for yield, but by mid September the higher priority may be timely harvest. Here are two helpful articles: Swathing early: Economics AND Frost risk rising. Should I cut that green canola?

Best time to straight combine. To determine whether a canola crop is “ready” to straight combine, stalk dry down, pod dry-down, and seed moisture all need to be considered. Read more. Which is most important to you? What are you compromising by focusing on one and not the others? Your answers to these questions will determine the ‘best’ time to combine and the amount of ‘time’ it takes to work through the crop.

Source: Canola Watch

Frost Risk Rising. Should I Cut That Green Canola?

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A lot of canola crops across Western Canada need a couple of weeks before all seeds are physiologically mature. With the frost risk rising with each passing day, farmers wonder if they should hurry up and cut that crop – even if cutting it green means a big sacrifice of yield.

That might not be the best plan. Swathing too early in anticipation of a frost is rarely a good move. To be effective, it has to be done three good curing days ahead of the frost. This can backfire because you’re accepting a yield loss in anticipation of a heavy frost that may not occur.

Why would a farmer cut canola early? Maybe the farmer has a lot of acres to harvest and, with the calendar flipping to September, wants to get things moving. If farmers really want to (or have to) swath some fields early, we’d recommend they start with fields where more of the seeds in side branches are firm and where overall field maturity is relatively even. Fields that are uneven (with a lot of mushy seeds in side branches) would be best left to mature a little more – especially if the canola has a pod-shatter tolerance trait.

Does early swathing mean early combining? Swathed canola can be ready to combine earlier than standing canola, but this is contingent on conditions. For instance, the current wet conditions in many regions will likely mean that mature canola left standing will dry down faster than canola in a swath. Also, canola swathed green takes a lot longer to cure than canola swathed at 60% seed colour change, and by cutting early, the crop is unlikely to meet its full yield potential. For canola left standing for straight combining, desiccants (diquat/Reglone) will not speed-up seed maturity, but they can speed up crop dry-down and make it possible to get into the field sooner. Note the important distinction: There is a big difference between maturity and dry-down. Desiccants shut down the plant and basically STOP it from maturing, which can lock in high green seed levels and end the finishing opportunity for latest seeds if applied prematurely.

Source: Canola Watch

Clubroot Update (With Recipe For Clubroot Management)

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Manitoba Agriculture announced this week it has discovered a clubroot pathotype in South Central Manitoba that is able to overcome the first generation clubroot resistance. Outside of Alberta, very few fields have been found to contain novel pathotypes like this, and this is the first finding in Manitoba.

In Saskatchewan, visible clubroot symptoms have been found in two fields in the northwest part of the province in R.M.s where clubroot symptoms were not previously confirmed.

And in Rocky View County in Alberta, a county where clubroot was confirmed for the first time just last year, novel pathotypes that can overcome first generation resistance are already confirmed.

All of this news means clubroot continues to spread and farmers should continue to scout, even when using CR varieties. Click here for scouting tips and images.

RECIPE FOR CLUBROOT MANAGEMENT

When combined, like ingredients in a recipe, the following practices will help growers to limit clubroot damage in canola, allowing for the continued success and profitability of canola production across the Prairies.

  1. Vigilantly scout all canola fields for symptoms, even if growing a CR variety.
  2. Keep a minimum 2-year break between canola crops. This crop rotation is crucial in the stewardship of genetic resistance. With a 2-year break between clubroot hosts, we see a rapid decline in living resting spores.
  3. Seed CR varieties and understand if/when to deploy different sources of CR. Planting CR varieties before the disease arrives and gets established will give you a better chance of keeping the resting spore load at a manageable level and maintaining effective resistance. Rotation of resistance genes could also be important to maintain resistance efficacy. With repeated use of varieties with the same resistant traits under high spore loads, virulent races can multiply and effectiveness of resistant will be seriously compromised. Read about how that happens.
  4. Limit activities that can introduce foreign soil or cause erosion. Minimum tillage and equipment sanitation (as simple as knocking off visible dirt before leaving a field) will greatly reduce the risk of moving infested soil around. Note that wet soil conditions increase the amount of soil that clings to equipment.
  5. Control host weeds. Common weeds that can host clubroot include stinkweed, shepherd’s purse, flixweed, all mustards and volunteer canola. They need to be controlled within three weeks of emergence to prevent a new batch of spores being produced.
  6. Isolate field entrances and hot spots. Use patch management strategies to reduce spore loads, such as grassing the affected area, which will also limit soil movement. Patches that are visibly worse than the remainder of your field often have billions more spores per gram of soil than elsewhere and are often the first place where clubroot resistance breaks down. Removing these hot spots from cultivation for a few extra years significantly reduces spread and risk of resistance breakdown. As part of this, having separate field entrances and exits could reduce the amount of infested soil leaving the field on machinery.

Scout now for clubroot. Symptoms of the disease are most noticeable late in the season, and can still be seen during and after harvest on plant roots. Producers are strongly encouraged to familiarize themselves with clubroot symptoms and start scouting now before the galls degrade. If galls are degrading they will look brown and peaty and may fall off when plants are pulled from the ground. Scout heavy traffic areas (entrances, exploration, gas wells, etc), low areas/water runs and areas where dust/snow tends to drift and settle. It is good practice to pull plants and examine roots whenever you are looking at later-stage canola as the disease could show up anywhere.

Source: Canola Watch

How To Assess Seed-Colour Change

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This is what seeds at the top, middle and bottom of the main stem will look like at 60% seed colour change.

Optimal swath timing for canola yield and quality is when at least 60% of seeds on the main stem are showing some colour change. Here’s how to determine seed-colour change.

Step 1. Start inspecting your canola field approximately 10 days after flowering ends. The end of flowering is reached when only 10% of plants have any flowers remaining.

Step 2. Take time to assess a field. Sample at least 5 plants in several locations throughout the field to make an accurate assessment of the overall maturity of the crop. Stand on the road or in the back of your truck box to help identify the ripest and least mature areas of the field (e.g. low lying vs. higher elevated areas of the field,) and ensure these areas are included in your sampling.

Step 3. Use the illustration to assist in determining seed colour percentage on the main stem. Include seeds with small patches of colour (spotting). Also look for firm seeds in the top pods that should roll between the thumb and the forefinger without being easily crushed. Note that pod colour is not a good indicator of seed colour change. Pods have to be opened.

Step 4. Low plant populations can lead to plants with numerous branches (see picture top right). For these plants assess not only the main stem, but side branches as well to ensure seeds that are still green are firm with no translucency.

Step 5. Once all areas are sampled, average out the percent seed colour change for that particular field. Also note the range in maturity observed among sampling locations.

Step 6. Continue inspections every two to three days until ready to swath.

Source: Canola Watch