Recapping the 2021 Canola Season with Dr. Isaac Madsen

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Show Notes & Resources Mentioned:

Please note the URL in for the Washington Oilseeds Cropping Systems website is incorrect in the transcription and is linked correctly below.

Contact Information:

For questions or comments, contact Dr. Isaac Madsen via email at or via phone at (360) 448-9081.

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Episode Transcription:

Drew Lyon: Hello. Welcome to the WSU Wheat Beat podcast. I’m your host, Drew Lyon, and I want to thank you for joining me as we explore the world of small grains production and research at Washington State University. In each episode, I speak with researchers WSU and the USDA-ARS to provide you with insights into the latest research on wheat and barley production. If you enjoy the WSU Wheat Beat podcast do us a favor and subscribe on iTunes or your favorite podcasting app and leave us a review while you’re there so others can find the show too.

[ Music ]

Drew Lyon: My guest today is Dr. Isaac Madsen. Isaac is a soil scientist and native of the Northwest. He currently serves as the extension agronomist for the Washington Oilseeds Cropping Systems Project at WSU. He has been involved in research on soil health, plant-root soil interactions, soil fertility and alternative crops. His current research focuses on stand establishment soil, fertility and winter survival in canola. Additionally, Isaac is interested in alternative oilseed production methods, such as intercropping and dual purpose canola. He hopes to see sustainable oilseed production continue to expand and bring crop diversity to the Inland Pacific Northwest. Hello, Isaac.

Dr. Isaac Madsen: Hello, Drew.

Drew Lyon: So in the past, when we’ve had you on the WSU Wheat Beat podcast, you have talked about a variety of research projects being conducted as part of the Washington Oilseeds Cropping Systems Project. But today I was wondering if we could talk a bit more about information outlets or where people can go to get the information that you generate from all these field research studies.

Dr. Isaac Madsen: Yeah, so that would be great. In my job title, after all, it’s says extension agronomist. And so if you hoard all this information, you’re not doing a lot of extension. So I think actually this podcast is one of the outlets I’ve really enjoyed. So I’ve been on here a few times, and it’s kind of one touch point. But then I wanted to dimension some of the other sort of avenues we have. So we have the Oilseeds website, which is And that’s that’s sort of, I would say the clearinghouse of of most the information. And then we have some social media presence. We have a Facebook page. I’m not much of a social media guy myself. So trying to keep that updated, that sort of information, that’s really I guess it’s more sort of here’s what we’re doing today kind of information is what I use that for. I, I did actually post the last Wheat Beats podcast out there. I don’t know how many people clicked on it from there, but so that was episode one hundred and eleven, I think. And I posted that on the Facebook page. If there’s a real call, I explore and expand into other social media. [ laughter ] But for right now, we’re just doing that that the one Facebook page. So that’s I think it’s WSU Oilseeds Project or something like that. If you type in Washington Oilseeds at WSU or on Facebook, you’ll get the… You’ll get that project for sure. And then sort of the the third avenue, I would say that’s really interesting to me that I don’t think a lot of people necessarily know about, but is a really good source to stay up on the most current research is actually the field day abstracts of the Lind field station.

Drew Lyon: Okay.

Dr. Isaac Madsen: So Bill Schillinger puts those together every year. And they’ve got, you know, every year, most of my projects, I’m writing one or two abstracts from my projects. So if you’re interested in anything that we’ve talked about in the past, you know, intercropping or winter survival or variety trials or plant nutrients, you’ll get the most recent years data there. And those aren’t published, finalized reports. So always remember that. That’s usually, you know, we that’s our first look at the data in our first surmise on it. Also, it’s not sort of well-developed. So it wouldn’t be like I wouldn’t substitute for, say, an extension guide on a particular topic. But if you’re interested in sort of the cutting edge of what we’re working on, that’s the place to go. And then the oilseeds website, recently we’ve actually been working on reorganizing it, and hopefully that’ll make that information a little more available.

Drew Lyon: Those field abstracts and oh, we we have a link to them on the Small Grains website. You have such a thing on your Oilseeds website?

Dr. Isaac Madsen: Yes. Yes. So that–

Drew Lyon: And those two websites, Oilseeds and Small Grains are linked together as well.

Dr. Isaac Madsen: Yeah. So hopefully they’re sort of dryland extension, I guess, web network of information available for people.

Drew Lyon: All right. You mentioned an updated version of the Oilseeds website will be released soon in the coming months. What kind of changes are you making to the website?

Dr. Isaac Madsen: Yeah, so historically, the website was sort of designed, I think, as a, you know, in the early years of the project, especially with sort of split out by rainfall zone and sort of oriented towards more of a reporting tool, I would almost say, where we were, you know, trying to sort of show the progress reports we were and the information we were gathering. And then there was some grower focused information, mostly sort of research updates and current research projects that was there by rainfall zone. But the the big shift that we’re going through right now is that we’re trying to reorganize it and make it really grower focus or agronomist focus or, you know, so you have a particular problem come up, an oil seed production either in IPM (integrated pest management) or fertility or some subject matter that you’re able to identify. And so then the information will be served up that way. It’ll it’ll be served up actually by the category. So we actually basically mirrored your Small Grains page the way that’s organized. So if somebody is familiar with going to the Small Grains page and looking for information, they should be able to switch right over on to this onto the new Oilseeds page. And from there, they should be able to, you know, just really seamlessly find find the same source of information, so, you know, under insects, actually, wireworms are a pest in both. And so actually that extension information will take you back to the same extension articles from from either page.

Drew Lyon: Okay.

Dr. Isaac Madsen: But you know, something like flea beetles that are unique to canola, it’ll take you to the extension resources on on on flea beetles specifically. And so that’s kind of how it’s structured now. So it’ll be more by topic rather than that was organized before. And I hope that that makes it more accessible. The other thing I, I think that does is that it really actually for us, it helped show us where we were missing areas of expertise right now on oilseeds. And so we have sort of been using it to create a plan for the future of, okay, you know, even if we’ve done all the research, what what subjects don’t we have extensive bulletins out on? So one of those is we don’t actually have an extension, updated extension in on nitrogen rates in canola. And so we’re getting really close to to finishing one of those up. And that’ll be so that’ll go on there, too. So it’s really nice sort of exercise for reviewing. Okay, where do we need to expand and explore and get information out there that? You know, we may know, but we don’t actually have it served out in any sort of useful manner.

Drew Lyon: Okay. I was going to mention, you know, we’ve been doing work in wheat for many, many years here in Washington State, but canola is kind of new. So I was wondering what kind of extension bulletin’s or extension information you have out there or will soon have or working on.

Dr. Isaac Madsen: Yeah, so so the two that I’m leading right now are that the well is actually on nutrients. It’s really focused on nitrogen because we’ve done the most work on that. But have a section in there on boron, which is a bit of a mystery. We know canola uses boron, but we have difficulty getting a response to boron fertilizers. And so we’ve got actually all the macronutrients are discussed in there and then some of the micronutrients. And then the other one is working on the integrated grazing systems that we’ve talked about in the past and just sort of reviewing the last several years of research we’ve done on those. So those two are coming through. And then you need to bug you and Ian about I really want something on herbicides. And they’re specifically on that plant-back restrictions. That’s one where you always get questions on canola. [ both laugh ] It’s like, plant-back restrictions, you know, some of those are just so long that you’re I feel like I get questions on those until the day I die, you know. [ Isaac laughs ]

Drew Lyon: Yeah. And eventually many of the herbicides we use in wheat are… canola is very sensitive to for quite a period of time.

Dr. Isaac Madsen: Yeah. And even off-site sort of problems that can happen. But I was talking to a grower who know you’re going to have to correct me here. Is it there in like 2,4-D is it the Ester’s that are more volatile?

Drew Lyon: Ester’s are more volatile.

Dr. Isaac Madsen: Yes. So somebody used 2,4-D Ester on a wheat field and it was a bit of ways from that canola field. But and it got lifted and carried up into the canola and yeah, it was a pretty bad, bad situation. So that’s a whole I guess drift is something I don’t usually I’m thinking about plant-back, but drift would be an issue, too.

Drew Lyon: Yeah, I think part of the problems this past year was we were so cool early. And so by the time the weeds started growing and things started growing and people get out there to spray, it was already getting a little late to be using things like 2,4-D Ester. And so there were some drift issues this past year.

Dr. Isaac Madsen: Yeah, and I think there’s also I mean, seemed like there’s quite a bit of wind.

Drew Lyon: It was a is a very windy spring.

Dr. Isaac Madsen: So, yeah, I know I talked to somebody and said we’ve had three spray days this spring. [ laughter ] There’s never a good situation.

Drew Lyon: So just talking about the weather. Before we close out, I thought maybe we’d talk about this extremely dry year and what kinds of questions you are getting asked by growers and an agronomist about canola and how to fit canola into the cropping systems.

Dr. Isaac Madsen: Yeah, so there’s different questions for spring versus winter canola. You know, spring canola this year is the exact opposite of 2020, basically. 2020, you know, we hit perfect weathering during flowering. And so it just flowered forever seemingly. And there is lots of water. So I think we probably had some some real record spring can only yields last year and then this year that, you know, the last two weeks in June, when we we hit those 100 degree days, that really just shuts down flowering. There’s there’s a cut off in there. I’ve heard a whole range of numbers, but some as low as 82 degrees. People say that every day over 82 degrees. You’re going to see some yield loss from that. I’ve heard some people say, well, that’s more like 90 degrees. But anyhow, you get into the 80s and 90s doing flowering and you start to see. If you get into the hundreds, you really see problems, so that’s that’s really evident. I’ve sort of had a lot of questions sort of around that, you know, how much is this going to hurt yield’s sort of from a — we can’t do anything about it now, but, you know, just sort of curiosity and then had some questions on aphid thresholds, because for whatever reasons, very, very rarely have I seen aphids — I shouldn’t say very rarely — but it’s not extremely common that we get aphid numbers up where you’re you’re seeing a lot of it actually over the threshold numbers of aphids. But this year, there have been plenty of aphid infestations that are over the threshold. So seeing some of that.

Drew Lyon: And then over the threshold, you mean over the threshold for treatment?

Dr. Isaac Madsen: Yes.

Drew Lyon: The numbers are high enough that you probably should do something about it.

Dr. Isaac Madsen: Exactly. And that’s not encouraging once you’ve got a crop out there that’s not going to pay for itself. [ laughter ] And so pretty rough that way. So there’s I would say those just kind of the things I’m saying in spring canola. Also some questions about water usage during seed-fill. And actually that’s still one I want to chase down. So, you know, after you’ve finished blooming in in you’re just in the pod stage. How much more water does the canola need at that point? You know, just looking at this year and at that point, it seemed like we’d run out of water. So I haven’t chased that one down yet. But that’s a really interesting question that maybe we’ll need to design some research around that and that particular question. On winter canola, you know, we’ve already planted some fields. So here it is, July, the end of July. And some some folks have already planted. So those are already up. And then I would say that most people have not, though, you know a lot of the seat doesn’t even moved into the region yet. And so I’m starting to get questions on how deep can I seed? So actually, I’m working on a timely topic for this today. And it’s an interesting one, how deep you can seed, because you know, we really conventionally said, okay, go an inch deep and try not to go any deeper than that. And I would I would say that’s that’s good if we can do that. But an inch this year isn’t going to cut it in very many locations. So I was sort of digging through work that’s been done in Kansas, in the Great Plains, and there’s research that shows it up to two inches. I actually planted a trail closer to two and a half inches the other day. And just based on our moisture, I think we are in July. So it’s not encouraging for August planting dates. And those those did come up. So that was, I guess two weeks ago I was planting two and a half inches deep. So. So anecdotally, you can get to two and a half inches. But I think once you start getting much deeper than that, you really going to see some attrition on seedlings. And and even if you don’t see necessarily a yield decline, you’re going to have a weaker stand. And so you’re going to have to take better care of herbicides and things like that. So that’s, I guess, the pressing question that everybody’s asking.

Drew Lyon: So but if you don’t have moisture at two and a half inches or two inches due to a dry plant, or do you just say this is not a canola year and move on to something else?

Dr. Isaac Madsen: I am not a fan of dusting in winter canola. I just have not seen it succeed when I’ve tried it. Now, maybe there’s people that have got it to work, but in my experience, dusting in winter canola is is not a good idea. So I think, you know, if you get to that point, look at something else. Look at winter peas. I know the process is rough, but maybe winter peas or, you know, just more winter wheat. And, you know, there are things some of those deep furrow drills, something like NHC or something like that, you can kind of change the height of the soil a little bit. You know, so it’s it’s actually I think this is one of those years when. And I’m a huge fan of no-till, but it– chem-fallow is can probably be a bit rougher. And the moisture is going to be a bit further down than fields where you’ve had some rod weeding and some of those more aggressive drills to make it make a furrow are going to probably be a little better for this fall. And that’s just the way we are with the moisture. So, you know, some of the early seeding stuff I’m doing mostly is chem-fallow and using a disc drill. And you really got a home beyond that, you know, because that moisture doesn’t stop going down when it’s going to get 100 or whatever. So.

Drew Lyon: Well, let’s hope this is a 1 in 100 year type of year. And we don’t see this again, at least in our lifetime. So, Isaac, thank you very much for this information. Again, the the web address for your or the URL for your website is?

Dr. Isaac Madsen: Yes, it’s And we can post a link in the show notes to you, I’m sure.

Drew Lyon: We will do that. Thank you, Isaac.

Dr. Isaac Madsen: Thanks you, Drew.

[ Music ]

Drew Lyon: Thanks for joining us and listening to the WSU Wheat Beat podcast. If you like what you hear don’t forget to subscribe and leave a review on iTunes or your favorite podcasting app. If you have questions or topics, you’d like to hear on future episodes please email me at drew.lyon — that’s –( You can find us online at and on Facebook and Twitter @WSUSmallGrains. The WSU Wheat Beat podcast is a production of CAHNRS Communications and the College of Agricultural, Human and Natural Resource Sciences at Washington State University. I’m Drew Lyon, we’ll see you next time.

The views, thoughts, and opinions expressed by guests of this podcast are their own and does not imply Washington State University’s endorsement.