NCRP coordinates research work in the following general areas:
- Agronomic studies
- Crop production technology
- Plant physiology
- Germplasm enhancement, genetics and breeding
- Weed science
- Marketing and market research
- Transfer of developed technology through an extension program
Specific research goals in these areas are as follows:
Agronomic Studies: Agronomic testing is essential to maximize genetic potential of canola varieties. Areas of investigation include:
- Planting studies
- Seeding rates
- Seeding dates
- Sowing depths
- Fertility requirements
- Harvest and post-harvest handling
- Benefits of canola in the rotation
Agronomic studies address these issues for cultivars that are presently available and will also develop crop management systems for any new cultivars.
Genetics and Breeding: A major factor limiting increased canola production in certain regions of the U.S. is the availability of suitable varieties that can be integrated into the existing cropping system. Areas to be addressed include:
- Higher seed yield
- Improved oil content
- Increased cold tolerance
- Improved insect and disease resistance
- Greater seedling vigor
- Greater resistance to shattering
Entomological Research: Productivity is greatly affected by insect pests. Several insects have been identified that are of economic significance in the production of canola. Integrated pest management (IPM) strategies must be developed to include:
- Host plant resistance
- Natural enemies
- Crop rotations
Flea beetles, cabbage seed pod weevil, aphids, diamond back moth and other insects have a substantial economic impact on the production of canola. Varying degrees of genetic resistance have been reported. Natural enemies for some of the species have been found. Crop resistance and biological control will be important in the development of IPM strategies. Genetics of resistance are not well defined. Biology of natural enemies for most of the species is not well understood. Use of biological tools will require continued effort. Few insecticides are available to canola growers. Finding safer and more effective pesticides is essential.
Weed Control: Integrated weed management systems will increase the potential of canola. Weeds will cause problems in both winter and spring sown crops. Major weed problems will include wild oats, volunteer cereals and broad leaf weeds. Control of related Brassica weeds will be particularly troublesome. Weed control is troublesome for two reasons:
- Competition from weed species will reduce yield potential.
- Seed from weed species closely related to canola with similar characteristics can reduce oil quality.
Integrated weed control strategies must include chemicals and cultural practices. Few herbicides are registered for use on canola and little or no information is presently available in the area of cultural practices. Efficacy testing of potential new herbicides will be an essential part of a successful production system.
Technology Transfer: The expansion of canola in some regions of the U.S. is encouraging. However, many potential producers lack access to knowledge about the crop. Demonstrations of existing and emerging technology are needed. The transfer of new technology through the Extension Service must be an integral part of the research effort.
The NCRP is designed to provide growers in each region with a ready source of information on how canola is planted, produced, stored, and marketed. The regional centers coordinate with Extension personnel at land grant universities to provide demonstrations where producers can familiarize themselves with the crop and the latest agronomic practices.