Five Tips For Growing High-vigour Canola Seed

The NSW Department of Primary Industries (NSW DPI) has released a new publication called Five tips for growing high-vigour canola seed to support producers using grower-retained seed for their canola establishment.

The publication outlines the key steps identified in a joint investment project between NSW DPI and Grains Research and Development Corporation (GRDC) to improve seed vigour and canola establishment for a more profitable and productive crop.

Colin McMaster, NSW DPI Research and Development Agronomist said how growers manage this year’s seed-crop could very well determine the success of next year’s establishment and financial return.

“Producing high-vigour canola seed-lots is achieved through a series of small, incremental gains including seed-crop agronomy and environment.

“The margin of error in establishing canola is much smaller than it used to be, as we are now sowing less seeds, it is costing growers more money, and we are placing those seeds in more hostile seed-beds due to earlier sowing.

“Canola seed has less energy reserves than larger-seeded crops and, as a result, is more sensitive to poor establishment across a range of seasonal conditions and agronomic management practices.

“Research and field surveys have identified that growers often only establish half of what is sown, and if the autumn break was less favourable its likely to be much less,” said Mr McMaster.

To reduce financial risk, some growers in the low to medium rainfall zone use open-pollinated (OP) canola varieties because the seed is cheap to buy, and it will grow true to the parent crop.

These traits allow growers to confidently retain seed which can increase flexibility and reduce financial risk within the farming system, for example if sowing conditions are marginal then seeding rates can be increased, or in the event of a failed establishment growers can spray out for an alternative option.

Other growers may be interested in retaining their own seed purely as a backup plan if there first choice seed supplies are delayed or to increase room in the crop budget for other critical crop inputs.

Autumn sowing conditions will determine how important seed quality/vigour is for a given year, with seed vigour (low or high) having negligeable benefit if seed can establish from shallow depth in ‘stress free’ conditions.

However, high vigour seeds are often required when placing seed at deeper seeding depths due to rapid soil moisture dry-back in early sowing opportunities.

The guide also covers other key agronomic factors to improve canola establishment including reduced sowing speed, adequate fertiliser separation from the seed, reducing stubble loads and shallow/uniform seed placement.

The Five tips for growing high-vigour canola seed is available on the NSW DPI website at

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