Canary Seed Agronomy

Warren Smith Farming - Canary Seed 2020

Published with the kind permission of Warren Smith Farming Ltd

Sowing: 1st week April (50%) and end April (50%)

Having finished drilling all the spring wheat and barley, we planted half the Canary Seed in the first week of April. This is the earliest Canary Seed has been drilled on the farm, with drilling usually in early May. However, conditions were good with moisture still in the top few inches of the soil and there was a lack of forecasted rain on the horizon. It is not unusual for us, for the crop to lodge at harvest, and therefore an earlier drilling date is not concerning. The other half of the Canary Seed will be drilled in the last week of April, with one field drilled with a combination drill after having been ploughed. The other fields were direct drilled.

Establishment & Early Weed Control

All, except one field, was sprayed off a week before drilling with glyphosate. A Weaving GD drill was used which meant no soil disturbance, and it seems to help the glyphosate work on the weeds better. The drill has three punctures on the following wheels, but due to the virus the local garage was closed, and we could not get any repairs. This meant that three coulters went in deeper than the others, it will be interesting to see the impact on seed emergence.  All fields were rolled twice, perhaps this was over-kill, but in a dry year good seed-to-soil contact is essential. No Avadex was applied, as we have found it does not work very well in Spring.

April - May

Until the 28th April, the farm had not seen rain for over six weeks. The first crops that were drilled from mid-March, direct into stubble have germinated and emerged. The crops from the mid-April ground was drying up so much that even direct drilled crops struggled to germinate.

Thankfully since the 28th of April we have had 29 mm of rain, and all seeds whether direct drilled or conventionally have now germinated. Some of ground ploughed this spring has not produced the best of seed beds but seeds have now germinated.

Canary Seed emerging in dry seed beds

June / July

The continued dry weather has not helped the canary seed, but the spring wheat and spring barley looks no better. Some of the fields have been planted in fields where borage has been grown in the past and as a result, we have some rogue borage in with the canary seed. This will need spraying off in a weeks' time. If there was more borage, we would swath the whole crop, harvest and then separate. This would work in another year as the canary seed has an open aspect to it and would allow the borage to grow at a later stage but coming to maturity at the same time. Surprisingly there seems no difference between direct drilled and conventional where there was early on, will find out when put on the weighbridge.

Canary Seed maturing at Warren Smith Farms
Canary Seed field at Warren Smith Farms - July 2020

Rain is adding challenge to harvest, on top of a challenging year. In July 42.4 mm of rain was recorded. Average temperatures are relatively cool for this time of year at 16.8°C (see weather data below).


Premium Crops have established a network of Sencrop weather stations at our Montor Farm locations. The weather stations provide a live-feed of the rainfall and temperature at each site. The details recorded at Warren Smith's farm from the 13th April to the 9th June 2020 are given below...

Sencrop data - Warren Smith - 13th April to 9th June '20
Sencrop weather data - Warren Smith Farms - June & July 2020


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