Planting Winter Canola Guide What You Need To Know

Cover Crop And A Good Green Manure

Field of winter canola

You can use winter canola as a cover crop and grow it for use as green manure and prevent weeds from moving in.

Because it's so simple to grow and requires minimal tending, it has gained popularity with many gardeners.

The minimum pH is 5.5 but responds better to something around ­ 7.0.

It does not require as much water but needs soils with better drainage. If your soil does not have the best drainage, you should use something more resilient to the ground, like winter wheat.

Planting the canola into heavy or poorly draining soil reduces its chances of surviving over the winter. These soils make it especially susceptible to root heaving, root rot, and freeze injury from ice accumulation.

The canola is most susceptible to winterkill around march when the plants can start to come out of dormancy, and suddenly the temperatures drop again.

In the spring, we can cut down our winter canola and till it into the ground as green manure to provide additional nutrients while improving the aeration and fertility of the soil.

Winter Canola Scientific Name

Canolas' scientific name is Brassica napus. It is the most commonly grown version of canola, and it is a member of the mustard family.

It is a relatively new crop, one of the most essential oilseed crops, and the only one made in Canada.

Winter Canola Winter hardiness

While winter canola survives pretty well over winter, it is not as well adapted as winter wheat.

The primary issue winter canola has when coming out of winter and moving to summer, they are susceptible to winterkill.

The problem is the plant cooming out of dormancy before the ground is done going through its thawing and freezing cycle.

Winter Canola Growth Stages

winter canola growth stages

Winter Canola Varieties

How Tall Does Winter Canola Grow

This is going to depend on how long you allow it to grow. I like to cut it down on my plot when it reaches around 2 feet.

But if you just leave it and the time and weather permitting, you can see it reach close between 4 to 5 feet tall.

Winter Canola Germination Time

We must get our canola seeds planted about 6 to 8 weeks before the first frost date.

Our seed beds need sufficient water, oxygen, and temperature for our seeds to successfully germinate.

Our soil temperature must be at least 40F (5 C) to germinate successfully. The successful germination rate increases with warmer temperatures, with 85F (30 C) providing the best results.

On average, the plant will take 4 to 15 days to move into a seedling stage after getting planted.

Winter Canola Seeding Rate

For winter canola on a small garden area to protect our gardens over the winter, we can place 4 seeds per square foot.

On larger plots, the average seeding rate used for canola is 5–6.2 kg/ha (4.5–5.5 lb/acre).

The easiest way to determine the seeding rate is by paying attention to seed size, germination, and the vigor rate on the seed tag while considering the emergence expected for the field.

We can also use the formula.

Seeding rate (lb/acre) = (desired plant population/ft² x 1,000 seed weight in grams ÷ seedling survival rate) ÷ 10.4

Winter Canola Fertilizer Recommendations

Canola requires high amounts of nitrogen compared to many other plants.

It is best to apply some when seeding if it is getting grown on soil with a low phosphorus level.

How Much Water Does Winter Canola Need

At the beginning of the growing season, the plant will start low and increase as the plant progresses through the vegetative stage. When it reaches the reproductive stage, the plant will need the most water and slowly use less as the crop matures.

In the tillering stage, winter canola requires 2 to 3 mm/day of water. When moving into the stem elongation stage, they will need approximately 3 to 5 mm of rain each day. If the weather is above 77 F (25 C), it will be on the 5mm end.

By the end of the heading stage, the plant's water consumption will be up to about 8 mm daily for maximal growth.

Environmental conditions such as solar radiation, temperature, humidity, and wind can all increase the amount of water the plants need.

Winter Canola Days to Maturity

On average, with decent growing conditions, it will take our winter canola 50 days to go through the vegetative stage to enter flowering.

For the canola to move from the flowering stage to swathing, the plant will need around another 50 days.

Our winter canola will take about 100 days to go through its life cycle.

Winter Canola Root Development

Winter canola has a root system depth of up to 5 feet deep into the soil under favorable conditions.

It has a large main tap root but cannot drill through highly compacted soils. Close to 70 percent of the root system will be located in the top 6 inches of the ground.

The overall final yield has a strong relationship with how the early growth of the root develops.

Unlike many other rooting systems, canola does not grow in search of water or nutrients. It merely intercepts them if they are where the root grows.

How Late Can You Plant Winter Canola

It gets freezing where I live fast, so I don't want to have it in after mid-August.

To give it the best chance of survival over the winter months, we need them to be as large and healthy as possible.

We also reduce our chance of the plant surviving over the winter season if we plant it too early. If the plant reaches the point of stem elongation before winter, we can run into survival issues.

Killing Winter Canola Cover Crop

The two most common methods to kill canola are for us to mow it or use a burn-down herbicide for no-till plantings.

No-till canola is an effective method to prevent erosion and weeds from moving in.

For killing winter canola with mowing, we need to wait until flowering. Mowing it before this stage will just result in it growing again.

Rolling is also getting looked at as another method for us to kill it.

Winter Canola Benefits


Winter canola is easy to grow, and it grows relatively quickly. We can use it as a cover crop by growing it in the fall and turning it into our soil in the spring as green manure to further improve our soil health.

It is an excellent way to prevent soil erosion in well-draining soils.

We must watch out for frost heaving if the canola is grown on heavy soil in the spring. This is when none well-draining soil goes through freezing and thawing.

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