Wednesday, 27 December 2017 06:28

Seed canola agronomy explained at upcoming Irrigated Crop Production update in Lethbridge

Written by  Jamie Rieger
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Learning the ins and outs of growing seed canola and how it differs from growing commercial canola will be one of the many informative sessions taking place at the Irrigated Crop Production Update 2018  which is taking place at the Lethbridge Lodge Hotel on Jan. 16-17.

Will Van Roessel of Specialty Seeds in Bow Island, will share his expertise in the afternoon of Jan. 16.
He will focus on those differences, including land-use and isolation requirements, as well as the use of honeybees and leaf cutter bees for optimal pollination.
When growing seed canola, the producer has to be mindful of what is being planted in the adjacent fields and communicate with his neighbours.
"The field can't have had any commercial canola on it for three years minimum and the companies have additional regulations. The fields get inspected the year before any seed canola can go in the ground," said Van Roessel. "Isolation is the distance between the hybrid canola and other canola fields. You need to be one mile apart. You have to stay on good terms with your neighbours and find out what they're planting so you can make plans together."
Van Roessel noted that two decades ago, it was a lot easier to meet the isolation requirements than it is these days.
Fifteen to 20 years ago, it was pretty easy, but now, for the last 10 years, it's been an issue every year and we've never been able to grow full acreages. That's one of the reasons we started growing hemp," he said.
Specialty Seeds has been growing seed hemp for a number of years.
Another factor that plays into growing seed canola is the choice of the species of bees being used for pollination.
"Honeybees work better when it's windy or cool, but not when it's hot," said Van Roessel.
"Usually, we use a combination of the two so we can maximize the pollination."
He added that placement of the shelters is also important.
"Close to the shelters, the pollination is five times higher than halfway between shelters," he said.
Orange tents are used for shelters for the leaf cutter bees, while boxes are used for the honeybees' shelters.
Van Roessel started growing AC H102 canola when they began their hybrid canola seed production in 1994 and now produce seed for a number of seed companies.
Specialty Seeds also grows various wheat crops for seed, durum, beans, peas, chickpeas, and hemp.
The Irrigated Crop Production Update 2018 takes place Jan. 16-17 at the Lethbridge Lodge Hotel. For further info or to register for the event online, go to

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