Farmer looks for right fit in non-GMO variety
When Washington producer Tom Poole decided to go 100% direct seeding on his farm, he took canola as part of the deal. Now that he has produced GMO varieties for several years, he wants to join the shift to non-GMOs, and is looking at planting varieties like Edimax, using a John Deere 1870 Conserva Pak drill.
Planting the Clearfield variety — the only one to show top rankings in establishment in a Washington State University study last year — is an attempt at “becoming more sustainable,” Poole told a 100-person crowd at a demonstration day on his Dyer Hill farm in May.
The hybrid “sustained a lot of winter damage, but looked better in the spring,” he said. “I’m not sure Edimax is the answer on my farm,” added the producer, who is heavily into Croplan 115 GMO canola at this time. He called the Edimax stand “acceptable.” The variety posted an 88% survival in the WSU trials near Pomeroy, better than the 78% of the Croplan 115.
Poole takes part of the blame for what may be considered a less-than-desirable Edimax performance. “I put too much fertilizer on the field,” he said. That resulted in bigger plants than he wanted at first, with the larger canola taking the hardest winter hit, he explained.
“One thing I like about the Clearfield choice is that I can put it right behind my Clearfield wheat,” Poole added.
The canola crop being tried for the first time in recent years by producers like Poole requires a “lot of give and take” in learning how to grow it, he said. “We’re still finding our way.”
Earlier, the land he farms was “moldboarded the heck out of,” he said. “We’re still finding old moldboards on the land when we farm it. We’re still working out those issues with the soil that all that plowing caused, and that has an impact on how well crops like canola do early on.
“We can do a lot to offset the damage done to the land through our direct-seeding techniques and by adding canola rotations,” he noted.
When it comes to the issue of producing non-GMOs over GMO crops, WinField Solutions representative Beau Blachly, Pomeroy, reminded the field day audience of the “excellent heat tolerance” of 115, perhaps the mainstay canola in the Douglas County area.
As with most other producers, Poole uses canola to get a better wheat crop, he said, adding that the oilseed also improves the soil on his farm.
Addressing concerns about Roundup resistance, he says other chemical modes can be used before the Monsanto herbicide to offset potential problems with questionable weed control.
New options sought
Poole said he understands that while Croplan 115 “has been a good, steady horse for canola growers, they are looking for new options.” Premiums are offered on non-GMO seed, for example.
Blachly announced that there are two new Roundup Ready canola varieties “in the wings” that may be introduced soon, with “much more winter tolerance than 115.” He said he could not disclose more information about those newcomers at this time.
This article published in the July, 2014 edition of WESTERN FARMER-STOCKMAN.
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