Canary Seed

Field Selection

Canary seed grows well on clay or clay loam soils, provided surface drainage is good. Canary seed is sensitive to a number of herbicide residues. Certain herbicides are residual in soil to varying degrees and under a range of field conditions.

Examples include: 

atrazine (Atrazine) 5
clopyralid (Lontrel, Curtail) 4
ethalfluralin (Edge) 3
ethametsufuron (Muster) 2
flucarbazone (Everest) 2
imazethapyr (Pursuit, Odyssey) 2
metsulfuron methyl (Ally) 2
sulfosulfuron (Sundance) 2
trifluralin (Treflan, Rival) 3

To determine the factors affecting the persistence of each product and for specific recropping intervals, refer to the current Manitoba Agriculture, Food and Rural Initiatives Guide to Crop Protection.

Variety Information


Seeding Canary Seed


There are no registered seed treatments for use on canary seed.



Canary seed should be seeded early in the growing season. A long growing season is required to optimize yield. Days to maturity are greater than wheat, at approximately 105 days.


35-45 lb/acre to achieve a plant stand of 40-55 plants/ft2. See page 7 for calculating optimum seeding rates using plant populations. Higher rates will provide greater weed control and will be helpful if the seed is being planted greater than two inches deep.

Seeding Depth

1 to 2 inches

Fertilizer Recommendations For Canary Seed

For specific recommendations, have your soil tested. If soil analysis is not available, a general recommendation is as follows:  

Nitrogen (N): Apply 0-30 lb/acre N following fallow or legume breaking, 30-55 lb/acre N following grass and grass-legume breaking and 55-90 lb/acre N following stubble.
Phosphate (P2O5): Apply phosphate at 30-40 lb/acre.
Potassium (K2O):
On sandy-textured or organic soils, apply potassium at rates of 15-30 lb/acre.
Sulphur (s): Low sulphur levels can occur in any Manitoba soils. When required, apply 15 lb/acre of sulphate sulphur.

Weed Control

Canary seed plants do not compete well with weeds during the establishment period. Chemical options are limited, but include both grassy and broadleaf weed products.


Aphids can damage canary seed. Economic thresholds for spraying are when there are at least 10 to 20 aphids on 50% of the stems prior to the soft dough stage. Aphids will often hide along the stem inside the canary seed head. When counting aphids on canary seed, the head should be bent and closely inspected, along with inspecting other parts of the plant, to properly determine infestation levels.

Diseases Affecting Canary Seed

Few disease problems have been reported in Manitoba. Septoria leaf mottle, a residue-borne disease, has been reported in Saskatchewan. A crop rotation with at least a two year break from canary seed is the best way to manage the disease, as no fungicides are registered for the control of the disease.

Also refer to Scouting for Diseases

How to obtain printed copies of the Field Scouting Guide and Guide to Field Crop Protection.

Harvesting Canary Seed


Although current varieties of canary seed will lodge, the crop is very resistant to shattering. Direct harvesting is recommended.


Use cylinder speed of 600-750 rpm. This will thresh the seed out of the compact head, but minimize the amount of dehulling. The hull needs to be left on the seed, as it gives the seed its shiny appearance. Set concave clearance at 3/16-3/8 inch in the front and 1/8-3/16 inch in the rear. Use less wind than with wheat, but enough to lift the chaff. Reduce the return of seed to the cylinder to prevent further cracking or dehulling of the seed. It is better to have a somewhat dirty sample than a dehulled sample.

Storage and Handling

Canary seed can safely be stored at 12 per cent.


Canary seed does not fall under a grade standard. Visual appearance is important. It is usually sold as 99 per cent pure seed, with no more than 4 per cent dehulled seeds.