Dry sowing canola

A dry, rainless April has left many with no choice but to dry sow in order to have all crops sown on time. This has important implications, but also provides some benefits and opportunities, as outlined below.

Issues with dry sowing:
  • No knockdown spray, meaning weeds will germinate with the crop after a rain.
  • Seeds vulnerable to mice. The severity of this will range for different areas, with seeds sitting in the ground mice will actively search for them reducing the number of plants germinating.
  • Tough on sowing gear. Wear and tear of machinery will occur due to rougher surfaces.
  • Controlling weeds. This will have to be done in crop which will be harder due to a smaller range of options available to be used and it will also add a risk of affecting the crop.
  • Small rain followed by dry conditions. A small rain, such as 8mm, will be enough to germinate plants. If this is then followed by dry conditions germinated plants can die.
  • Pre-emergent selection. Some pre-emergent need rainfall in order to wash the product into the soil and become activated. These won’t be as effective in dry sowing due to no rain. Products such as trifluralin and Avadex need incorporation by sowing to be put into the soil, here they won’t breakdown as quick but still need moisture to be activated. They will last longer in the soil and therefore are a better choice when dry sowing.
  • Insects. The ideal timing for insect treatment is prior to plant emergence. Please ensure insecticide application, if necessary, is timed around emergence for early seedling protection, assuming seed is already treated.
Benefits and opportunities of dry sowing
  • Warmer soil temperature – this enabling a good early vigour, crops sown after a rain means seeds are planted into cooler soil temperatures
  • Time – sowing dry will ensure sowing plan is followed and doesn’t put grower behind. It is far better to have the crop in the ground ready for the rain than to be sown after and putting the schedule behind.
Dry sowing in practice

When dry sowing canola a few management practices need to be considered and planned for:

  • Variety. Iif sowing time is delayed to a later time a shorter maturating variety can be an option to sow.
  • Seed Placement. Seed placement is paramount, it should not be sown too deep. Just like sowing canola at any time, it should be sown shallow as the seed is small and needs high moisture to germinate. 15-20mm is recommended.
  • Seeding Rates – can be increased in order to account for any errors or seeds that did not germinate.
  • Herbicides. Trifluralin or Avadex are the best choice once incorporated into the soil they won’t breakdown for many weeks and won’t lock in canola as the only crop that can be sown, other pre-emergent herbicides such as Butisan and Propyzamide will mean you are locked in to sowing canola.

Baiting for mice

Baiting will only need to be done if mice populations are high. Paddock inspections before and after sowing need to be done in order to locate any active mice holes. Usual spots to check are:

  • Close to fence lines.
  • Grain silos and yards.
  • Where they were found the previous year.
  • Lighter soils are more likely to have an issue.

If a substantial number of holes are found, that are active, baiting is needed.

For more information contact your local Elders agronomist.

Written by Tessa Sexton, Elders Yarrawonga.