Canary Seed FAQ

Canary Seed FAQ

Q Is Canary Seed profitable?
A Canary Seed will produce a similar Gross Margin to Spring Linseed.

Q Is Canary Seed a break crop?
A Yes, similar to a short term Ley.

Q Where geographically can Canary Seed be grown?
A Anywhere in mainland UK.

Q What soils can it be grown on?
A Canary Seed likes moisture retentive soils, so is ideal for heavier land.

Q When do you drill it?
A Mid-March to mid-May.

Q What about weed control?
A There is a range of pre and post emergent options for both grass weeds and broad leaved weeds. Note there is no post emergent grass weed control.

Q When is it harvested?
A Usually mid to end of August (before Linseed).

Q What yield can I expect?
A Yield ranges from 1.5 – 3.0 t/ha depending on the season, but similar to Spring Linseed.

Q I have heard that Canary Seed can be a real problem to control in subsequent crops?
A No it is not, you are confusing it with Canary Grass which is a creeping perennial. Most of the grass weed killers that you would use in cereals or broad leaved crops will control Canary seed.

Canary Seed

Q Where does Canary Seed come from?

Canary Seed (Phalaris canariensis) originates from the Mediterranean region and is grown as a crop in South America, Mexico, Canada & Australia as well as parts of Europe, including in the UK.

Canary Seed is a member of the Order: Poales, Family: Poaceae.

The Genus: Phalaris includes several species of significance to agriculture. In addition to grain use (P. canariensis) Some are useful as pasture grasses (Phalaris aquatica) and some are weeds (P. minor, P. paradoxa and P. arundinacea).

Distinguishing features of various Phalaris species (ref: Cade, 1982 and Norton & Ford, 2002)

Species Common Name Life cycle

Rhizomes present

(Underground stems)

Seed Head (size) Outer Glume Base of Stem
P. canariensis Canary seed Annual No 15 to 40mm long Wings about two thirds as long as glume Not swollen, no pink sap
P. paradoxa  Bristle spiked canary grass Annual No 50 to 100mm long Wings and
glumes both
Not swollen, no pink sap
P. minor Lesser canary grass Annual No 30 to 60mm long Wings about half
as long as glume
Not swollen, no pink sap
P. arundinacea Reed Canary grass Perennial Yes 70 to 150mm long No Wings Not swollen, no pink sap
Phalaris aquatica Bulbous canary-grass Perennial Yes 70 to 150mm long Wings about half
as long as glume
Swollen, exudes pink sap if cut


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