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Fall Dormant Seeding... A Management Alternative
Kevin Zaychuk, Research Manager, Grow Tec Inc

Fall or dormant seeding is an innovative management practice. It has been attempted, with varying degrees of success, with crops such as canola, spring wheat, and small-seeded legumes to name a few. It is however, not a new concept. Fall seeding has been evaluated on a number of occasions over the past 30 years. In canola at least two major constraints to wide spread adoption were proven to be the control of winter annual weeds and maintaining seed dormancy immediately after seeding until the onset of permanent soil freeze-up.

The geographic focus of fall seeding has been the Western Canadian Prairies and the Northern Plains States. In the case of canola, the advent of herbicide tolerant lines was pivotal in renewing research interest in this novel concept. The list of benefits is growing as research continues in this field however one of the main benefits, avoidance of environmental stress, was shown to provide an average yield advantage of up to 30% in west central Saskatchewan over traditional mid-May seeding dates (Johnson, et al., 1998). By changing the seeding date from the traditional mid-May to a fall date, Clayton et al. (2000) reported an approximate doubling of the harvest index or the ratio of grain to dry matter production.

Possibly, one of the most significant characteristics of fall seeding is the earlier maturity or harvest and the resulting effect on seed quality. This has been demonstrated both in increased oil content (Kirkland and Johnson, 2000) and on seed size, maturity, germination rate and emergence rate of canola seed (Gusta et al, 2000).

As with any agronomic practice, fall seeding is not without risks. A recent introduction by Grow Tec Inc. of Extender® polymer seed coating for canola is intended to minimize one of the main risks of fall seeding (Zaychuk et al, 2000). The Extender® seed coating minimizes the risk of fall germination prior to the onset of winter.

Additional risks and benefits of this practice will be discussed together with results from the initial commercialization of the Extender® polymer on canola in the 1999/2000-crop year.

Possibilities and limitations of this technology will also be discussed in relation to crop type and geographic distribution.

References:

Clayton, G., K. Turkington, N. Harker, J. O'Donovan and A. Johnston, 2000. High Yielding Canola Production. Pp. 26-27. In Better Crops. Vol. 84 (No. 1).

Gusta, L.V., N.T. Nesbitt, E.N. Johnson and K.J Kirkland, 2000. Effect of Seeding Date on Canola Seed Quality. Pp. 251-257. In Proceedings of the 2000 Soils and Crops Workshop, Division of Extension, University of Saskatchewan, Saskatoon, SK.

Johnson, E.N., K.J. Kirkland and L.V. Gusta, 1998. Late fall and early spring seeding of herbicide tolerant canola. Pp. 133-138. In Proceedings of the 1998 Soils and Crops Workshop, Division of Extension, University of Saskatchewan, Saskatoon, SK.

Kirkland, K.J. and E.N. Johnson, 2000. Alternative Seeding Dates (Fall and April Affect Brassica napus canola Yield and Quality) . Can. J. Plant Sci. Vol. 80 - in press.

Zaychuk, K., L. Bowman, E. Greenhough and J. Carlson, 2000. EXTENDER … 1998/99 Fall Sown Canola Grower Trials. Pp. 246-250. In Proceedings of the 2000 Soils and Crops Workshop, Division of Extension, University of Saskatchewan, Saskatoon, SK.