Strong market demand for canola, Brassica napus L., has prompted some western Canadian producers to increase the frequency of this crop in rotations with other crop species, but the impact of this practice on canola insect pests has not been determined. Here, we investigate 12 cropping sequences involving canola over a 3-yr period (2008–2010 inclusive) at five locations across western Canada. Cropping sequences varied from continuous production of two herbicide-tolerant canola varieties, to production in two of 3 yr, to canola production in one of the 3 yr. Treatments analyzed were the frequency and timing of canola within the rotational sequence. Damage by larvae of root maggots (Diptera: Anthomyiidae: Delia spp.) to canola taproots increased as the study progressed, particularly in 2010 after canola had been grown continuously for 3 yr. Yield declined with continuous canola production, and differences were greatest in 2010. At mean canola crop prices for 2010, the yield reduction from continuous production amounted to economic losses of approximately Can$282–$377/ha. Crop quality, in terms of oil and protein concentrations of harvested seed, was affected more by crop variety than cropping sequence. Crop sequence effects for root maggot damage, yield, and seed quality were relatively stable in the presence of environmental (location) variation. Results of our study suggest that continuous canola production could be unsustainable over the long-term even though market forces currently provide incentive for this practice.
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Vol. 105 • No. 4