Taking a look at canola harvest options

In considering harvest options, Corteva Agriscience reminds producers of some of the key points to consider when deciding whether to swath, delay swathing or straight cut.

Swathing may be an option if the following occurs:

  • Crop canopy is upright and not well knit together
  • Uneven crop staging from uneven crop emergence, disease, weedy patches or early season frost
  • Risk of early fall frost
  • Thin, short or lodged plant stand
  • The optimum stage to swath for both yield and quality is 60 per cent seed colour change

Delayed swath may be an option if the following occurs:

  • You need more time to help spread out the workload (waiting until 80 per cent seed colour change could help, for instance)
  • Adverse weather conditions are in the forecast at 60 per cent seed colour change when one would normally swath
  • The crop is well-knitted with minimal disease or insect damage
  • Risk of early fall frost is low

Straight cutting may be an option if the following occurs:

  • You seeded a canola variety with the pod shatter resistant trait
  • Plants are well-knitted with a slight lean to protect against severe wind events
  • Even, uniform crop maturation
  • Limited disease, hail or insect damage to plants or pods
  • There is a need to balance weather, crop conditions and maturity with your farm’s time efficiency (manpower and machinery)
  • Seed moisture is less than 10 per cent with minimal green seed (ideally less than two per cent)

Need more information? The Canola Council of Canada provides important tips for harvest management that all canola growers can reference. 

Planning for 2022?

And if you’re looking to the 2022 cropping season with straight cutting canola in mind, the following are some agronomic and management tips to consider:

  • Seed early to have the crop reach maturity as early as possible. Select varieties with pod shatter resistance and the best disease resistance package suited to your area.
  • Fertilize for high yields and aim for a thick crop.
  • Target seven to 10 plants per square foot. A heavier canola stand has a decreased likelihood of shatter from high winds. With increased plants per square foot, you will reduce branching and even out maturity across the field.
  • Use excellent weed control to reduce the green material through the combine.
  • Yield loss as a result of shatter and pod drop will increase as harvest is delayed. Limit straight cut acres to what is manageable for your operation.
  • Target harvest at less than 10 per cent moisture. Canola harvested in the 10 to 15 per cent moisture range will need to be dried.
  • To reduce shatter losses, harvest when straw is slightly damp in the early morning or evening.
  • If still standing during frost periods, harvest after the first heavy frost.
  • The reel may need to be adjusted to minimize shatter. Reel speed should match ground speed.
  • Different headers may impact shatter losses.

About the author

Field Editor

Lee Hart

Lee Hart is editor of Cattleman’s Corner based in Calgary.

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