Should you convert some farm acres to straight cut?

Q & A with an expert

Q: Is straight cutting canola a good fit for my farm?

A: Recently, there has been more discussion around straight cutting and harvest management of canola. New advancements in genetics that increase the integrity of the pod and greater focus on selecting hybrids that have characteristics that make them more suitable to a straight cut situation have improved the options. There have also been some advancements in desiccation technology.

These developments increase the opportunity for converting some of your farm acres to straight cut; however, if you are a follower of farmer discussions online you will see there are many successes and challenges that come with changing your management practices to suit a straight cut option.

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Assess your fields

Some fields are more suitable for straight cut than others, and the weather will still dictate if it is a good decision to hold a field for straight cutting or swath now. If straight cutting is an option you are consider- ing, select your seed with that in mind. Look for hybrids that have all the attributes that suit your operation (maturity, disease resistance, stand- ability, tight canopy and straight cut research).Stage out the maturities so you have an opportunity to get across all your acres at an optimal time and be prepared to swath if the growing season dictates it. Hybrids with enhanced straight cut traits and attributes still need to be well managed at harvest to avoid yield or grade losses.

Desiccation can solve some field variability and green weed material issues. Swathing is a form of desiccation as it immediately cuts the plant off from its source of moisture. In-crop desiccants are also an option and need to be matched according to the field situation. Perennial weed problems may necessitate a herbicide versus a true desiccant. The results will be different among these options as should the expectations. Frost is also a desiccant and can lead to immediate requirements for some fast changes in plans when it comes to harvesting canola.

If you are planning to move more acres to straight cut, start with your weed control and seed decision, monitor the field and make your final cutting decision at the same time you would traditionally be starting to assess the field for swathing. Frost, late rains and wind can all change plans, and swathing or straight cutting earlier than expected may be the best decision to maximize your yield.

Lane Blanke, B.Sc., PAg, CCA, is a manager of agronomic services for Nutrien Ag Solutions in Swift Current, Sask.

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