A better understanding of canola needed

Author: John Minogue | Date: 10 Feb 2016

A man facing the camera while standing in a field with his arms crossed.

John Minogue says further opportunity exists to optimise canola production and profitability

Growers throughout the north have embraced canola as a valuable break crop and oilseed commodity, but the Grains Research and Development Corporation (GRDC) is aiming to show growers how further opportunity exists to optimise production and profitability.

The five-year GRDC project, launched in 2014 aims to provide growers with a better understanding of the drivers behind canola’s development to help improve management of the crop and variety selection.

Growers and advisers will be able to use information generated from the project to help select a suite of varieties that are suited to sowing opportunities that most often occur in their district and also to exploit early or delayed sowing opportunities as the seasons dictate.

This will hopefully address the significant gaps, which remain in the underlying knowledge of canola physiology and agronomy, and have been exacerbated by canola’s expansion into new areas and the release of new technologies, including vigorous hybrid varieties bred for herbicide tolerance.

The project, Optimised canola profitability – understanding the relationship between physiology and tactical agronomy management, will involve physiological and agronomic research across nine cropping zones in the GRDC southern and northern regions, from SA’s Eyre Peninsula to southern Queensland.

Although growers recognise the high profit potential and the farming system benefits of canola, there remains a perceived risk of growing canola due to the high level of inputs required, such as seed, nitrogen fertiliser, sulphur fertiliser and windrowing.

This project will help determine the level of investment appropriate for these inputs on a regional scale and the agronomic management practices (for example sowing date decisions) that reduce the overall risk and increase the profitability of canola.

Sound tactical agronomic decisions require growers and agronomists having an improved physiological understanding of yield and oil formation in canola, and how they are affected by variety or genetics, environment, and crop management, and the interaction of these three.

For example, because varietal maturity ratings don’t always correlate with varietal phenology, early sowing may provide a great opportunity to maximise canola yield, but selection of the correct variety is important.

Growers who can identify the optimum flowering window to minimise heat and frost risk, identify the variety and sowing date combinations that match the optimum flowering window, and manage specific varieties to maximise water-use efficiency, optimise nitrogen-use efficiency and minimise input costs will come out in front.

Once you have mastered these steps, further investigation may reveal specific varietal adaptations that provide a yield advantage under specific stresses, such as heat, drought and frost.

We hope the information generated by this project will add value to other trial results, such as the GRDC-funded National Variety Trials (NVT), and help explain difference in varietal adaptation and performance as a starting point to growing more profitable canola.

The manner in which each canola variety develops can have a large influence on the resulting yield when planted at different times and in different environments.

This project is part of the GRDC’s ongoing commitment to be focused on the development and delivery of information on new varieties in a way that is timely and relevant to growers and advisers.

Contact Details

For Interviews

John Minogue
0428 763 023


Ellen McNamara, Cox Inall Communications
0429 897 129

GRDC Project Code CSP00187

Region North