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Stubble management effects on canola performance across different climatic regions of western Canada

Cardillo, M.J., Bullock, P., Gulden, R., Glenn, A., Cutforth, H. (2015). Stubble management effects on canola performance across different climatic regions of western Canada, 95(1), 149-159.


© 2015, Agricultural Institute of Canada. All Rights Reserved. Previous research in the most arid region of the Canadian prairies has shown that wheat stubble cut tall the previous year can improve performance of the following canola crop. This study aimed to determine if tall stubble could benefit canola across the climatic conditions typically experienced in western Canada. Tall stubble impacts on canola were monitored over 11 site-years located throughout the prairies. At each site, tall stubble (50 cm) was compared with short stubble (20 cm). At some sites the stubble lodged allowing an unintended comparison between stubble that remained intact and stubble that was flattened. The comparison of snow water equivalent showed tall stubble caught more snow than short stubble but the benefit of additional spring soil moisture was masked by heavy spring precipitation in both 2011 and 2012. Canola biomass and yield were significantly lower in damaged versus intact stubble, either short or tall. In both years, wet spring conditions were followed by hotter and drier weather in the mid to late growing season. Soil under the damaged stubble (short or tall) likely warmed and dried more slowly in the spring, limiting early-season growth, biomass and yield. At sites where both tall and short stubble remained intact, there was a significant yield advantage with tall stubble. The intact tall stubble may have slowed evaporation and soil drying compared with intact short stubble, which reduced moisture stress later in the growing season, imparting a yield advantage.

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