Ask an Expert: Canola’s Next Generation Uncovered
Nov 14, 2018
As the growing season wraps up in Western Canada, producers are starting to shift their attention to the spring – specifically towards new seeding developments for 2019. One hot topic that has a lot of farmers talking is the anticipatory release of TruFlex™ canola with Roundup Ready® Technology*, which will be our first new canola trait in over 20 years.
What will TruFlex™ canola do for your operation’s bottom line? What are the benefits? What are the drawbacks? These are all the great questions being asked on farms across the country about canola’s exciting future.
To get answers to all the burning TruFlex canola questions, we went right to the source. Tim Darragh is a Bayer Technical Development Representative in Fort Saskatchewan, Alberta, who has worked on the research trials of the new trait. He recently offered his expert opinion and knowledge about what TruFlex canola will mean for Canadian farm operations.
1. What is TruFlex canola and what will it bring to the marketplace?
It’s an exciting time in farming. TruFlex canola with Roundup Ready Technology will be the first new canola trait system we’re bringing to the marketplace since 1996. TruFlex canola was developed primarily to improve upon the current Roundup Ready® canola system, and provide growers flexibility in spray rates and application timing.
TruFlex canola will provide improved crop tolerance to Roundup WeatherMAX® herbicide, which will allow growers to apply rates up to 1.33 L/ac in a single application or 0.67 L/ac in sequential applications. This will help growers control 24 more types of weeds than under the Roundup Ready canola system. It will also provide improved and more consistent control** of a number of difficult-to-control weeds such as wild buckwheat, foxtail barley and dandelion.
The wider window of application when making sequential applications of Roundup WeatherMAX herbicide will also be a game changer. When using sequential applications of 0.67 L/ac, growers can make the second application as late as first flower, giving them on average 10 to 14 days more (compared to Roundup Ready canola) to make that second application. At the end of the day, this wider window will provide growers with more time to:
- adapt to weather conditions
- manage expanding farm operations; and
- flush weeds on their crops.
2. Where do you see TruFlex canola fitting within a grower’s operation?
TruFlex canola will provide a fit on just about any acre in Western Canada. I think the benefit of improved weed control** will allow growers to plant some acres that have been challenging in the past due to heavy weed pressure and help provide growers with a better yield experience.**
On the other end of the spectrum, growers will see excellent results on their high yielding acres as well. TruFlex canola is a trait platform that will be paired with elite hybrids to provide:
- improved disease resistance**
- increased suitability to straight cutting**, and
- higher yield potential.**
The performance of these hybrids will only be enhanced by the improved weed control** that comes with TruFlex canola and will offer growers the best possible experience on their acres.
3. When you talk to growers, what do you find they’re most excited about when it comes to TruFlex canola?
I hear two main things. Growers are really excited about their ability to target more weeds** and tougher to control weeds in their canola crop. They know that with improved weed control** they’re going to maximize their canola yield, and at the end of the day, that leads to more bushels in the bin and more money in their pocket.
They’re also looking forward to the increased window of application** they will now have if they choose to do a second application. A shared comment among producers is that the one input they can’t buy more of on the farm is time, and having 10 to 14 more days** to make their second application in canola gives them more time to manage their spray window through their entire operation – especially in years when they’re faced with challenging weather.
4. What can growers expect from varieties with the TruFlex canola trait in terms of yield, disease resistance and straight-cut suitability?
They can expect TruFlex to be a canola trait system that will be the backbone for several unique hybrids that will feature a number of attributes such as improved blackleg resistance**, clubroot resistance and increased suitability to straight cutting.**
The new hybrids expected to come to the marketplace will provide improvements on yield and performance compared to Roundup Ready canola. This improved genetic potential** will be maximized by the increased crop safety** we see with TruFlex canola, as well as the improved weed control** growers will experience with being able to target a wider spectrum of weeds.**
5. Will growers need to adjust their current farming practices when they start using TruFlex canola in the field?
No, when it comes to managing TruFlex canola on the farm, growers who are currently growing Roundup Ready canola will not need to change their farming practices.
The TruFlex canola trait provides improved tolerance to Roundup® brand agricultural herbicides, but will be controlled by the same pre-seed tank mix partners and in-crop chemistry we have been using with Roundup Ready canola.
When it comes to managing glyphosate resistance, the herbicide application rate is just one factor. Growers can also help significantly reduce the selection of resistant biotypes by implementing sound agronomic practices such as:
- Diversifying their crop rotation, allowing for more herbicide options with alternative modes of action,
- periodic tillage, and
- strategies to increase crop competitiveness (e.g., using certified seed, proper planting rates and good fertility practices).
If a grower is currently using glyphosate in their pre-seed program, we recommend including a secondary mode of action to further reduce the selection pressure for resistance. In terms of in-crop applications of Roundup WeatherMAX herbicide with TruFlex canola, we recommend growers target their herbicide rates to match the weed spectrum in the field, and use the recommended rates that help provide control of those weeds present.
7. Having worked with the TruFlex canola trait in your research trials, how would you recommend growers use this technology on their operation to have the best experience (or results)?
TruFlex canola is going to provide growers with great opportunities to improve the efficiency of their operation.** In terms of managing the hybrids, I focus on a few key things:
- stand establishment; and
- weed control.
You need to know that all of the anticipated TruFlex canola products have the potential to be high-performing hybrids. With proper fertilization, these products could give you the opportunity to see an increase in yield potential. These products will also have the benefit of being pre-treated with Jumpstart® XL inoculant, giving the crop access to more phosphate for higher yield potential.
Having a good stand is also extremely important, so I recommend planting at 5 lbs/ac. A good stand helps provide consistency across the field and promotes crop competition against weeds.
A final aspect to focus on is weed control. With TruFlex canola, we will have the ability to target larger weeds and spray later. However, don’t think that it would be easy to just wait longer to make your in-crop applications. To get the best results in your crop, you still need to focus on early weed removal. The critical weed-free period for canola is up to the 4-leaf stage, so I recommend a system that includes either a pre-seed burn off, or an early in-crop (cotyledon-to-1-leaf stage) application followed up with a second application later in-crop.
At the end of the day, to get the most out of TruFlex canola, growers still need to focus on solid agronomic practices.
* TruFlex™ canola with Roundup Ready® Technology is not yet commercially available. Current plans are to commercialize for the 2019 growing season. The information presented herein shall not be construed as an offer to sell.
** Compared to Roundup Ready® canola.