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Christmas, E.P. 1996. Evaluation of planting date for winter canola production in Indiana. p. 278-281. In: J. Janick (ed.), Progress in new crops. ASHS Press, Alexandria, VA.

Evaluation of Planting Date for Winter Canola Production in Indiana

Ellsworth P. Christmas

    1. 1990 Planting
    2. 1992 Planting
    3. 1994 Planting

Winter canola (Brassica napus L.) is a winter annual and as such is seeded in late summer or fall. When commercial production was first considered in Indiana, site location and planting date were thought to be the two most important cultural decisions. Since winter wheat is commonly grown in Indiana, winter wheat areas were considered most likely to be well suited for winter canola. This has proven to be the case. Therefore, good sites for winter canola are easy for producers to identify through their experience with winter wheat production. The second most important production decision relates to planting date. Fribourg et al. (1989) reported that Sept. plantings of winter canola in Tennessee yielded significantly higher than Oct. plantings. Planting date studies were also conducted in western Kentucky by Herbek and Murdock (1989) with plantings on Sept. 1, 15, and Oct. 1, 1987 and on Sept. 2, 15, 30, and Oct. 14, 1988. The Sept. 15 planting date in 1987 produced a significantly higher yield than either the Sept. 1 or Oct. 1 plantings. In 1988, the Sept. 2 and 15 planting dates yielded significantly more that the Sept. 30 and Oct. 14 planting dates. Teo et al. (1988) reported that early seeding of spring canola resulted in significantly greater seedling infection from Rhizoctonia solani. The objective of the study was to evaluate the effect of planting date on winter survival and yield of selected cultivars of winter canola when grown under Indiana climatic conditions.


Three sites were selected for the experiment on planting date, each representing a distinctly different climate in terms of severity of winter temperatures. The Northeast Purdue Agricultural Center (NEPAC) near Fort Wayne, was selected as the site representing the most severe winter weather. The Southwest Purdue Agricultural Center (SWPAC), near Vincennes, represented the least severe winter weather and the Throckmorton Purdue Agricultural Center (THPAC), near Lafayette, being intermediate between the other two sites in terms of winter weather severity.

Four planting dates were selected for each site ranging from mid Aug. for the initial date at NEPAC to mid Oct. for the last date at SWPAC. The goal was to plant the first date at NEPAC about Aug. 15 with THPAC one week later and SWPAC two weeks later. The succeeding three dates were to be planted at 10 to 14 day intervals following the initial date. The actual date of the initial planting as well as the number of plantings was dependent upon the soil conditions at each of the sites.

The experiment utilized a split plot design having four replications with planting date as the whole plot and cultivar as the split plot. Four cultivars of winter canola were selected for planting in 1990 and 1992 and five cultivars in 1994.

The previous crop on the plot area selected was either wheat or watermelons and was prepared conventionally with a plow or chisel plow and a disc. Prior to planting 67 kg/ha of P was incorporated and 28 to 34 kg/ha of N was applied in the fall with an additional 135 kg applied in the spring as a topdress. The plots were seeded with a drill either 2.1 or 1.5 m wide to a length of 15.3 m.

Stand counts were taken in late fall or early winter and again in Feb. or March as the plants broke dormancy and began to regrow. The plots were end trimmed to a length of 12.3 m and harvested when the seed moisture level reached 10% or less with a Wintersteiger Harvest Master Elite plot combine equipped with a 1.5 m. header. The weight and moisture of the production of each plot was determined and converted to a kg/ha yield corrected to 9% moisture.


1990 Planting

Analysis of the data indicated a significant difference at the 5% level for planting date at all three sites. The Oct. 15 planting date at SWPAC and the Oct. 5 planting date at THPAC resulted in total death loss of all four cultivars. However, the Oct. 2 planting date at NEPAC resulted in a significant yield reduction even though the spring stand count showed a near perfect stand. As a result of limited plant growth in the fall, the Oct. 2 planting date (NEPAC) resulted in serious plant heaving which may explain the yield reduction.

The Sept. 6 planting date (NEPAC) and Sept. 4 (THPAC), resulted in a significantly higher yields at 1957 and 2501 kg/ha, receptively (Table 1). At SWPAC, the Sept. 13 and 25 planting dates were not significantly different.

There was a significant difference for cultivar at all three sites. 'Winfield', was the overall poorest performer while 'Liborius' gave the best performance at NEPAC and THPAC, `Ceres' performed best at SWPAC.

1992 Planting

The weather conditions for the fall and winter of 1992-93 were near normal. The last planting dates of Sept. 29 (NEPAC), Sept. 30 (THPAC), and Oct. 1 (SWPAC), each gave totally different results with a 100% death at NEPAC, a 100% survival at SWPAC, and combination of death and full survival at THPAC depending on cultivar. The first planting date at each site either gave the highest yield or was not significantly different from the second planting date. The yields produced by the three planting dates at SWPAC were not significantly different, while the NEPAC and THPAC planting dates produced yields that were significantly different at the 1% level.

'Liborius' was the overall poorest yielder at all three sites in 1992-93. 'Ceres' was the higher yielder at NEPAC and 'Touchdown' at THPAC, with no significant difference between cultivars at SWPAC.

1994 Planting

The fall of 1994 was very warm and considered to be a very late resulting in temperatures warmer than normal well into November. The first planting dates in the fall of 1994 of Aug. 18 (NEPAC), Aug. 24 (THPAC) and Aug. 26 (SWPAC) resulted in significantly lower seed yields than the Sept. planting dates. The planting dates of Sept. 9 (NEPAC), Sept. 13 (THPAC), and Sept. 21 (SWPAC), produced the highest yields in 1995.

The weather conditions at the SWPAC site were so mild that all of the planting dates were negatively impacted. The plant stems of the first planting date elongated to the point where the terminal bud was about 20 cm above ground level when the plants became dormant. In 1994-95, there was no consistent pattern to cultivar performance. `Touchdown' at SWPAC, remained a poor performer.


Each of the three years included in this study exhibited distinctly different weather conditions. The fall of 1994 was very warm and late resulting in excessive growth and significant winter injury particularly with the early planting dates. The late Sept. or Oct. planting dates in 1990 and 1992 resulted in significant death loss and no or greatly reduced yields. From this study, it can be concluded that winter canola can be successfully grown in northern Indiana if planted between mid Aug. 25 and Sept. 20. Plantings which are made after Sept. 20 will result in significant yield reductions or total loss of the crop. Data from southern Indiana indicate that plantings made during the month of Sept. are most likely to be successful with both Aug. and Oct. plantings resulting in death loss or yield reductions.

Cultivar performance varied by site indicating that some cultivars may be more tolerant to adverse weather than others. `Touchdown' appears to be the best performer under adverse conditions while `Liborius' was the poorest performer.


Table 1. Yield of winter canola by cultivar, year, and date of planting at three climatically different sites in Indiana

Yield (kg/ha)
1990-91 1992-93 1994-95
Northeast (NEPAC) Sept 6 Sept 20 Oct 2 Sept 4 Sept 16 Sept 29 Aug 18 Aug 29 Sept 9 Sept 20
Accord 2711 2789 2800 2873
Ceres 1733 1339 703 3805 3498 0
Doublol 2073 1850 945 3432 2777 0 2543 2623 2902 2690
Falcon 2601 2511 2736 2752
Liborius 2270 1806 1114 3482 2452 0 2345 2474 2732 2571
Touchdown 3232 3518 0 2560 2620 2669 2644
Winfield 1752 1655 1023
Mean 1957 1663 946 3488 3061 0 2552 2603 2768 2705
Central (THPAC) Sept 4 Sept 26 Oct 5 Sept 3 Sept 15 Sept 30 Aug 24 Sept 13 Sept 22 Oct 3
Accord 2598 2910 2862 1964
Ceres 2559 2119 0 1912 2160 962
Doublol 2651 2385 0 2601 2724 0 2668 2648 3252 2102
Falcon 2856 3264 3266 2788
Liborius 2693 2536 0 2195 2184 238 2549 2984 3003 2113
Touchdown 2840 2664 2169 2896 3270 3106 2423
Winfield 2104 2095 0
Mean 2501 2284 0 2388 2433 842 2714 3128 3098 2278
Southwest (SWPAC) Sept 13 Sept 25 Oct 15 Sept 14 Sept 24 Oct 1 Aug 26 Sept 12 Sept 21
Accord 202 599 1110
Ceres 2042 2069 0 2509 2665 2668
Doublol 1795 1865 0 2627 2651 2850 243 819 1206
Falcon 258 635 1124
Liborius 1901 1781 0 2214 3165 2435 150 927 1193
Touchdown 2810 2423 2903 623 1184 2512
Winfield 1443 1752 0
Mean 1800 1867 0 2540 2726 2714 295 833 1204

Last update June 9, 1997 aw