Canola update: Planting and beyond

With recent rains, planting should be well underway or will start shortly.  Many growers have been concerned with not being able to get any canola planted in recent weeks due to too much or too little soil moisture.  While production system issues may exist, canola planted within the next couple of days to weeks is well within the recommended window and those planted in the next couple of days is right in the prime planting time.  While most research has shown September 20th through the 25th as the best time for planting.  However, these are working on averages and the conditions of last week (hot temperatures with excessive drying conditions right before a projected major rain) was not optimum for canola planting.  With regional soil moisture and cooler temperatures forecasted for the current week, this week may be the best time to get canola into the ground.  With the cooling conditions, however, we need to make sure to be timely with planting as canola will need time and growing days to get enough growth prior to the first frost to optimize winter survival.  The good news is there is plenty of time for growers to get seed into the ground and current 10-day forecast look to be prime for drying but not quick drying resulting in crusting and poor emergence and more reasonable temperatures. 

When canola has been planted, we cannot completely leave canola in order to do other fall activities.  Two major activities should be at the front of growers’ minds following planting.  First need to be N management.  While all nutrients need to be managed in canola in accordance to a soil sample collected, most other nutrients will have already been applied or applied with an in-furrow application.  However, planting is the time to make sure there are N-rich strips in all fields.  Many growers will think putting these strips in all production fields, especially in canola, is excessive but we are coming off a year were getting enough N for optimum production was challenging.  Additionally, high amounts of rainfall in late-spring, summer, and early fall could make N management in the spring challenging again.  Therefore, it is critical that growers make placing N-rich strips in the field to make spring N applications more manageable a priority this fall.  For further information on N-rich strips and setting up N management practices, please visit: or a short 101 video on N-rich strips can be found at

The other thing that needs to be a primary concern for growers in scouting and controlling foliage feeding worms in their planted canola.  These can be diamondback moth larvae or fall army worms or a combination of the two.  This was a major issue last fall and these pests were found in such high numbers that they were able to completely destroy entire fields.  While these were only in a couple of fields, it could be any field so growers need to make sure to scout throughout the early stages of the fall.  If last year is any sign, these pests can go from non-detected to catastrophic within a couple of days, therefore, growers need to be in their fields as often as possible (remember this is a major issue with both canola and wheat fields).  The critical limit to target an application is one worm per square foot and most pyrethroids can be used as a control measure or more advanced insecticides.  For further information check the most updated insect management in canola at:

Early season worm damage on canola seedling.

While planting conditions throughout the last several weeks might not have been optimum for many growers, things are starting to look better for getting the crop in the ground in a timely manner and off to a good start.  While it is easy to do with planting, harvesting, and cattle to manage, growers cannot plant and walk after from their canola crop.  With the good yields from last year still fresh in everyone’s mind, it is critical that the crop be managed properly in order to get the most out of this crop.  For further information on canola management, N-rich strips, or fall worm management, feel free to contact your local county educator, district agronomist, or specialist directly. 


Canola planting in Oklahoma

Come the beginning of September, most grower should have one thing on their mind.  No this should not be dove hunting, but rather planting.  When it comes to canola producers, it is this time of the year that many want to start getting seed into the ground if moisture is present.  With recent rainfall throughout a good portion of the state, this decision is starting to being made this week. 

Should this be done:

Determining whether you should plant early or not depends on your situation.  First and foremost, for insurance purposes, insurable planting begins on or after September 10th and goes through October 10th.  This would basically call for waiting until at least this Saturday to start planting.  However, with moisture, many producers would be more apt to plant into good conditions than to wait for the optimum timing and plant.  This is understandable; however, there are other things that need to be considered.


Early planting:

When planting early, many producers just want to ensure that enough growth has been achieved before the first killing freeze to store enough reserves in the plant and rooting system to survive the winter.  This is a good thought to always have when planting canola but canola only needs around 6 weeks of growth to increase the likelihood of winter survival.  Planting on September 6th would result in 8 weeks before the average light frost (November 2nd, NOAA), 10 weeks before the first hard freeze (28F, November 14th, NOAA), and 12 weeks before the first killing freeze (24F, November 25th, NOAA).  If a large amount of growth was the only factor in achieving high winter survival and good stands in the spring, then planting into good conditions as early as possible would be the best practice.  However, with increased vegetative material, a high amount of water and nutrients will be needed to sustain the plant in later winter and early spring.  This increased stress can result in diminished winter survival and spring stands. 

Managing early planted canola:

Recent research projects at Oklahoma State University have begun to look into the use of PGR to manage fall canola growth.  Results of these trials have been somewhat mixed.  While a PGR that restricts growth when the canola is planted early or a PGR which increases root growth when applied to late-planted canola did not decrease yields, no yield benefit were found either.  These results currently show that the addition of these PGR to most winter canola producers are not cost effective as a means to manage planting dates with our canola crop.  Additionally, while not significantly, higher yields were typically seen when the canola was planted on-time rather than outside of the optimum window and then managed with PGR.  Furthermore, most PGRs are not labeled for use in winter canola production.  Those that are labeled for use are labeled under a different use (i.e. fungicide) and therefore application as a PGR would be considered an off-label application. 


Overall, winter canola planting can be a challenging time full of decisions that will influence the productivity of the remainder of the production season, especially in Oklahoma when September through October can have highly variable weather.  An optimum planting time for canola will typically occur around the 20th of September.  No-till growers need to start making this decision earlier as these soils have a tendency to restrict growth and become cooler faster than conventionally tilled soils.  Even if producers wait until the last two weeks in September to start planting canola and moisture is not present at that time, the planting window stretches for several weeks beyond that time.

We at Oklahoma State University wish all producers a safe and productive planting time.  If any further guidance is needed regarding planting issues feel free to contact your local county extension office, regional agronomist, or myself with any other issues. 

Using Canola as a crop rotation for winter wheat

Article from Josh Bushong- NW Area Agronomy Specialist

Years like this make it very challenging to make critical decisions on what will work on your farming operation. Due to low commodity prices, managing farm inputs and deciding what to plant can be very daunting tasks. Many producers are rethinking or possibly considering planting canola for the first time this year. Winter canola has been successfully grown in north central Oklahoma for the past 13 years. There have been a few instances where drought, spring freezes, or other weather events have limited production, but as I recall the wheat didn’t fare much better in those cases either. Past performance has shown us that if it is a good year for wheat it will be a good year for canola as well.

Weed control in continuous wheat systems can be very challenging. What few options there are have become even fewer. OSU has documented that some populations of ryegrass and cheat in Oklahoma have developed resistance to ALS herbicides that are commonly applied to wheat. Weeds can cause significant economic damage by not only limiting yield by competition but also by increasing price discounts at the grain elevator through dockage or foreign material (FM). While dockage is usually just a weight deduction FM can cause significant price reductions. I have seen instances where the wheat was so trashy that a grain elevator wouldn’t even let the producer dump the load and in other cases the wheat had to be sold as mixed grain.

When penciling out budgets for the fall, it is important to not only factor in the production from this season, but also consider how canola can add value to your operation for years to come. Many wheat producers have grown canola for the main purpose of cleaning up weedy wheat fields. Since canola is a winter broadleaf crop it serves this purpose great. The best option to control winter annual grassy weeds like feral rye, ryegrass, cheat, bromes, jointed goatgrass, rescuegrass, wild oats, etc. is to utilize different herbicide modes of action that are not available in a continuous wheat system. In canola there are graminicides (herbicides that control grasses) like Select, Assure, and Poast as well as non-selective herbicides like glyphosate if a Roundup Ready cultivar is used. These herbicides have shown to be very effective in controlling these hard to manage grassy weeds. Just one year in canola can reduce dockage and FM in the following wheat crops by 85-100%.

In addition to cleaning up troublesome weeds, canola can also increase the amount of forage and grain yield of the following wheat crops. OSU research has shown a significant 20-25% increase in wheat forage and 10-15% increase in grain yields. Wheat producers have reported a 10-50% yield increase in wheat yields. A wheat stocker operator in Kingfisher county mentioned that his stockers average 50 pounds per head more when grazed on wheat fields that followed canola compared to stockers grazing on continuous wheat.

When debating on whether or not to plant canola this fall, remember that adding it to your crop rotation will add economic benefits for years to come. Sometimes it is difficult to see the value of cleaner fields, more forage, and increased yields. Canola is a great weed management tool and it can improve our wheat’s quality and quantity. Benefits of Adding Canola into the Rotation Josh Bushong NW Area Agronomy Specialist Oklahoma State University August 2016

2017 Oklahoma Canola Economics Appear Favorable

Eric A. DeVuyst, Professor and Extension Economist Agricultural Economics

With wheat prices in the low $3 range and 2017 July futures suggesting sub-$4 new crop prices, Oklahoma producers are looking for an alternative winter crop. Winter canola may provide a more economically-attractive crop. Additionally, there are several agronomic benefits to rotating canola with wheat including a 10-15% wheat yield bump following canola.

Historically, Oklahoma canola prices have ranged from $1.16 to $5.15 over wheat prices and average $3.68 over wheat price. However, since 2013 canola prices have ranged from $1.16 to $3.15 over wheat prices, suggesting weakening basis for canola. State-average canola yields have ranged from 12 bushels in 2014 to 31 bushels in 2010. USDA National Agricultural Statistics Service has not published the 2015-2016 crop yields yet; however 2016 canola yields are expected to top the 2010 yield. Since 2009, canola yields average 3 bushels less than state-average wheat yields.

I recently prepared budgets for canola and wheat to compute breakeven prices for both crops. Starting with canola with a yield goal of 30 bushels (1500 pounds), a producer can expect to invest about $210 per acre for seed, chemical, fuel, fertilizer, harvest and hauling costs. Realized yields will vary relative to the yield goal. In table 1, the top row of yields represent realized yields and the left column are prices and returns to land, labor, and management in the body of the table. If a producer harvests 30 bushels of canola, the breakeven price is $7.01 per bushel (bottom row). At 35 bushels harvested, canola breakeven drops to $6.07. Given that 2017 canola prices contract are around $6.25-$6.50, positive returns are possible if above average yields are realized. Losses ramp up quickly when yields fail to reach goals. It also important to note that these breakeven prices do not consider the positive impact on wheat yields for one to two years after canola.

Oklahoma wheat returns for 2017 are less favorable. For a wheat yield of 33 bushel (3 more than the canola yield goal in the example above), a producer can expect to spend around $165 per acre on seed, chemical, fuel, fertilizer, harvest and hauling costs. If the goal of 33 bushels is realized, the breakeven price is $5.01 per bushel. Futures markets suggest a price of about $3.75 for July 2017 wheat. At $3.75, a producer would need about 46 bushels of harvest wheat to breakeven when fertilizing for a 33-bushel yield. At this point, $5 wheat price for 2017 is well outside most forecast ranges, making wheat very unattractive. Table 2 reports returns to land, labor, and management when fertilizing for 33 bushels and various combinations of realized yields and prices. Positive returns to land, labor and management are only realized for the cells in the lower right-hand corner. These breakeven prices are computed for grain-only wheat. There may be positive returns to wheat stockers in 2016-2017, but producers should consider price risk management to avoid large stock return losses.

In summary, winter crops returns will be tight in 2016-2017 but it appears that canola is more likely than wheat to generate positive returns to land, labor, and management. Since individual producer costs will vary, producers should consider their own costs and revenue projections before making planting decisions. Producers are encouraged to contact their local extension educator for more information on canola and wheat budgets.




Winter Canola Schools Agenda

2016 Winter Canola Summer Schools:

8:00-9:00 Registration, Coffee, and Doughnuts

8:45-9:00 Welcome and Introductions

9:00-9:15 Nutrient recommendations and in-furrow applications- Drs. Brian Arnall/Joy Abit

9:15-9:30 Understanding tillage for canola production- Dr. Jason Warren/

9:30-9:45 Insect management and preparing for next year- Dr. Tom Royer

9:45 -10:00 Disease management and emerging diseases in canola- Dr. John Damicone

10:00-10:15 Break

10:15-10:30 Managing weeds and herbicide resistance using canola rotations- Mr. Josh Bushong/Mr. Heath Sanders

10:30-10:45 Selecting varieties for individual locations and production system- Dr. Josh Lofton

10:45 -11:30 Grower experience for production inputs and marketing- Mr. Brent Rendel

11:30-11:50 Economics and marketing for canola- Dr. Eric Devuyst

11:50-12:00 Great Plains Canola Association and Oklahoma Oilseed Commission Updates- Dr. Ron Sholar

12:00 Lunch provided by Dekalb Seeds

Planter calibration clinic following lunch

**2.5 CCA CEU will be available at this event**


Great Plains Canola

Oklahoma Oilseed Commission


DeKalb- Canola

Rubisco seeds

CROPLAN by Winfield 


OSU Entomology Update: Sugarcane aphids and worms on the rise.

Jessica Pavlu, Graduate Research Assistant, and Tom A. Royer, Extension Entomologist

On July 12, 2016, we found sugarcane aphids in a sorghum field in Caddo county that had exceeded treatment thresholds. Jerry Goodson, Extension Assistant in Altus, reported finding a sparse colony of sugarcane aphids in Tillman county last week. Most of the sugarcane aphid infestations that we have observed so far are located south of Interstate 40.  We will continue to provide weekly reports of sugarcane activity throughout the rest of the summer growing season.

Oklahoma’s “Sugarcane Aphid Team” (which also includes Dr. Ali Zarrabi, Mr. Kelly Seuhs, Dr. Kristopher Giles from the Department of Entomology and Plant Pathology, USDA researchers Dr. Norm Elliott and Dr. Scott Armstrong, and Dr. Josh Lofton and Dr. Tracy Beedy from the Department of Plant and Soil Sciences), is conducting research to identify effective insecticides, resistant sorghum varieties, best cultural practices to avoid sugarcane aphid, and develop improved sampling and decision-making rules for treatment thresholds.

When scouting, make sure you are finding sugarcane aphid, as it can be confused with yellow sugarcane aphid.  The sugarcane aphid (Fig.1) is light yellow, with dark, paired “tailpipes” called cornicles and dark “feet” called tarsi.  The yellow sugarcane aphid (Fig. 2) is bright yellow with many hairs on its body and no extended cornicles.

Figure 1. Sugarcane aphid
Figure 2. Yellow Sugarcane Aphid


Currently the suggested treatment threshold for sugarcane aphid is to treat when 20-30 percent of the plants are infested with one or more established colonies of sugarcane aphids. An established colony is an adult (winged or wingless) accompanied by one or more nymphs (Fig 3).

Figure 3. Sugarcane Aphid Colony


Two insecticides, Sivanto 200 SL, and Transform WD, provide superior control of sugarcane aphid.  Sivanto can be applied at 4-7 fluid ounces per acre.  Transform WG can be applied at 0.75-1.5 oz. per acre.  It is important to achieve complete coverage of the crop in order to obtain the most effective control. Consult CR-7170, Management of Insect and Mite Pests in Sorghum  for additional information on sorghum insect pest management.  

Sorghum “Whorlworm” and “Headworm” Decisions

This week, I received several reports of “worms” feeding in the whorls of sorghum (Fig 4) which I identified as fall armyworms. I rarely recommend that a producer treat for fall armyworms infesting whorl stage sorghum.  Why? because available research suggests that under rain-fed production, whorl feeding rarely caused enough yield loss to warrant treatment costs, AND more importantly, most insecticide applications provide poor control.  The poor control is a result of difficult delivery of the insecticide into the whorl allowing the caterpillars to avoid contact.  However, recent unpublished research shows that some new insecticides may provide effective control of fall armyworm in the whorl, so it is time to revisit my recommendations.

Whorlworm damage
Figure 4. Whorlworm damage


Recent unpublished research results conducted in irrigated sorghum out of Lubbock suggest that Prevathon®, Besiege®, and Belt® can provide acceptable control of the caterpillars in the whorl (even large caterpillars). Therefore, the second of the two reasons I listed above may no longer be true; they can be controlled.  However, 1: these products were tested on irrigated sorghum 2: they are quite expensive 3: some products may flare sugarcane aphids and spidermites and 4: WE STILL DON’T KNOW HOW THEY IMPACT YIELD, thus, we are still “guessing” with regard to return on investment for control.

How has this information changed my recommendations?  Keep in mind that the research in Texas was conducted in irrigated sorghum with a very high yield potential. Since Oklahoma growers typically grow rain-fed sorghum which has lower yield potential, my suggestion is to examine 30 plants (5 consecutive plants in 6 different locations) and split a few stalks to see where the panicle is located.  If the panicles are close to emerging (boot stage), my “best guess” is to consider treating if 70% or more of the whorls are infested and there are an average of 1-2 live caterpillars present.  Under this scenario, you would be protecting physical damage to the emerging head. 

On choosing an insecticide I offer some things to consider. 1: the effective products may or may not be available. 2: some have the potential to flare sugarcane aphids and spidermites.  3: they are all expensive.  Belt is still available for use, but EPA recently requested that Bayer voluntarily remove it from the market. Bayer refused, and asked for an administrative hearing.  On June 1, an administrative law judge upheld EPA’s decision to cancel registration of Belt. Bayer is appealing and is scheduled to receive another review from the Environmental Appeals Board before July 6. If EPA prevails in the appeal process, Belt will no longer be available. However, Bayer says that Belt can still be sold, purchased and used during the appeals process.

I have little information on how Belt affects sugarcane aphids or spidermites. Besiege is a mixture of the active ingredient in Prevathon with an added pyrethroid.  Research in Lubbock suggests that spidermites may flare with Besiege. We also know that any pyrethroid will flare sugarcane aphid. Prevathon has not shown the propensity to flare either spidermites or sugarcane aphids.

We are attempting to obtain data on the effectiveness of, and yield returns obtained from Prevathon to control fall armyworm in the whorl. Until I have more data, I can only say that a producer should carefully consider a decision to control “whorlworms”. The jury is still out as to whether controlling them is economically justified.

With regard to headworms, we have well-designed decision making capability coupled with solid treatment thresholds. USDA and University scientists developed a computer-based program that can calculate an economic threshold for headworms (Fig.5) and provide a simple sampling plan that tells the producer if threshold is reached (Fig.6).

Figure 5. Sorghum Headworm


Figure 6. Bucket sampling for sorghum headworm


Called the Headworm Sequential Sampling and Decision Support System (, it uses input on the plant population, the crop’s worth and the control costs to calculate a treatment threshold.

Now, prepare for the tricky part! If we only had to consider one pest, I would advise selecting the insecticide that works best on that pest.  However, we now have to consider sugarcane aphid in all of our sorghum pest management decisions.  In my opinion, if sugarcane aphid is already starting, a producer must consider using either Transform or Sivanto. That narrows the choice options for combining another product to control headworms because pyrethroids could flare the aphids.

I have reviewed data from multiple years of insecticide trials throughout the SE US. The data suggests that products containing chlorpyrifos provide spotty control of headworms. Data that I have reviewed from other insecticide trials suggests that Prevathon and Blackhawk provide excellent control of headworms and Diamond® was also effective on headworms.  For information on spray mix compatibility, talk to the local sales representatives for the products you have chosen.

Consult CR-7170, Management of Insect and Mite Pests in Sorghum  for more information.



Preliminary results for the winter canola variety trials- overall summary

It is important to remember these are preliminary results and numbers may change between this post and the final publication. Additionally, oil content will be available at a later date. Please remember to keep checking in for other variety trial locations and updated information.  Within the tables, the highlighted sections indicate a non-significant difference between the top yielding varieties and the bolded numbers indicate the highest yielding varieties at each location. 




Preliminary canola variety results: Perkins

It is important to remember these are preliminary results and numbers may change between this post and the final publication. Additionally, oil content will be available at a later date. Please remember to keep checking in for other variety trial locations and updated information.

Results from this trial were replicated 5 times in conventional tillage systems and 5 times in no-tillage system.  All methods for management were in accordance to the particular system type.  

Conventional Tillage: