By Mike Stamm
Improving high-yielding and regionally adapted winter canola varieties, advancing canola cropping systems, and delivering new technologies and production practices to growers are priorities of the project “Development and Management of Canola in the Great Plains Region” supported by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA). This project is led by researchers and extension specialists from Kansas, Oklahoma, Texas, Colorado, Nebraska and New Mexico.
NIFA funds support canola breeding activities at Kansas State University (KSU). Over the past five growing seasons, varieties with a KSU genetic contribution have been planted on 40,000 acres annually across the United States. KSR4848, a Roundup Ready® variety released in 2022, is high-yielding and later maturing than similar varieties. Including KSR4848 on the market will broaden the available maturity options for growers. Future varieties will possess higher oil content and enhanced sulfonylurea herbicide carryover tolerance in combination with glyphosate resistance.
Another development from the NIFA project is the testing of hybrid female parent lines in test cross combinations. These lines are the first hybrid parents bred specifically for Great Plains climatic conditions, plus they possess higher levels of winter hardiness. Identification of a commercial partner to bring these lines to the market in hybrid combination is a new goal.
Research studies are helping producers better understand how the Great Plains environment can impact a canola crop. KSU researchers recently compiled an analysis to better quantify the impact of different timings and durations of heat and drought stresses on seed and oil yields and quality. The main outcomes of this review highlighted that 1) heat stress at a shorter duration before the end of flowering had the largest impact on yield, 2) drought stress caused the greatest negative impact on yield when imposed for a long duration during flowering or at a shorter duration during pod filling, and 3) short stresses had large negative consequences on oil concentration, mainly during pod filling. These results indicate that more frequent, shorter periods of heat and drought could have major implications on canola seed yield and oil content.
Studies assessed the application of crop inputs under low and high management schemes. Oklahoma State University (OSU) conducted product omission trials to measure the impacts of individual inputs in both high- and low-input systems. In the high-input system, the removal of high-intensity nitrogen (N) management (i.e., moving back to a two-way split from three-way) and the removal of sulfur (S) applications resulted in significant decreases in yields compared to the high-input check (3-7 bu/acre for N and 2-4 bu/acre for S). Low-input systems resulted in similar findings for N management in which more intensive N significantly increased yields (6 to14 bu/acre) compared to the low-input check. These results show the value of increasing N management intensity.
A struggling canola industry has slowed outreach opportunities in the Great Plains the past couple of years; however, the announcement by Scoular to recommission the Goodland, Kansas crush plant has reinvigorated interest in growing canola. Members of the project team participated in six informational meetings about the crop, reaching over 175 attendees across Kansas and Oklahoma. The team will re-engage with producers prior to the 2023-24 growing season. Two canola production schools are planned for August ahead of the Aug. 31 deadline for crop insurance.
Mike Stamm, M.S., is a canola breeder at Kansas State University in Manhattan.