Canola storage options start with harvest

The most important factor affecting canola storage? Harvest conditions

Everyone knows harvest timing can drastically impact not only the storage options for, but also the quality of your stored canola. Especially when the weather doesn’t care to co-operate, it’s tempting to head into the field before conditions for harvest are optimal.

At swath timing, determining whether to swath or straight cut your canola depends on a variety of factors; both methods have advantages and disadvantages. After swathing, it may take more than 10 days for canola to dry to a uniform seed moisture content of between eight per cent and 10 per cent. At this point, harvest can begin if green seed levels are acceptable.

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The condition of your canola at harvest is the most important factor affecting its storage. Harvested canola that isn’t fully mature is at risk of sweating for up to six weeks before becoming dormant, with the extra moisture and heat likely to cause fungi and spoilage in the bin if it’s not properly aerated. Fully mature canola seeds are metabolically dormant, making the risk of sweating — and bin spoilage — very small.

Derwyn Hammond, B.Sc., M.Sc., is an area agronomist for Pioneer Seed in Brandon, Man. His current focus includes corn, soybean and canola production in southwestern Manitoba, as well as several other crops.

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