Jesse Meyer is our Territory Manager in the Peace River. He gathered observations about straight cutting canola in the Peace this year from his own farm, and from discussions with customers. Please note CANTERRA SEEDS has not done analytical testing to measure the effectiveness of straight cutting vs. swathing CANTERRA 1990, and Jesse's comments are not meant as an official recommendation.
Straight Combining Canola Gaining Popularity in the Peace
This past harvest there was more straight combined canola acres in the Peace Region than ever before, and it is gaining popularity with growers. By doing one less pass in the field and allowing the plant to mature fully, many farmers feel like they are gaining vs swathing. Liberty link canola seems to be the system of choice for growers who decide to straight combine, because they are able to do a pre-harvest with glyphosate, although Roundup Ready canola is gaining popularity as well. Just recently, Heat from BASF was registered as a pre-harvest on canola, and farmers have had good results from that application. It acts quickly and evens out the field. Reglone from Syngenta has also been used, but with less success. Although many farmers do use a pre-harvest herbicide, it is not necessary, canola will dry on its own. This past year a heavy, early, September frost killed all the canola, much like a herbicide would.
Green Seed Issues
Green seed was an issue this past year. If the canola was at 60% colour change when the frost came, green seed was minimal between the straight combined or the swathed. Swathing seems to only lessen the risk of frost if you are swathing before ideal colour change…less than 60%.
Types of Headers
Most growers are using draper headers on their combines, and that works well. A cross auger up top would help the flow in heavy canola but is not mandatory. Auger headers work very well because they grab the crop. There has been lots of discussion about headers where you can extend cutter bar and have side shears to reduce shatter loss. I have never worked with these, but understand they are a significant amount of money. The headers that you use for cereals will work for canola. A grower should pull the reel back as far as they can to the back of the header, and run the reel slowly to minimize shatter.
Shattering was minimal when it was around 10% moisture, but as the canola got dryer the risk of shattering increased. At the same time, swaths did blow in the wind and shattering was significant in those situations as well.
Advantages of Each Method
One of the biggest advantages of straight combining is that if it rains, the standing canola dries much quicker and gets you back in the field harvesting quicker. The advantage to swathing is that it does get you started with harvesting canola sooner by approximately a week, and that is a significant. So I believe a blend of both swathing and straight combining is important. It spreads the grower’s workload and spreads their risk - there are risks and advantages to both methods.
Experience with CANTERRA SEEDS canola
Several growers in the Peace, including ourselves, straight combined CANTERRA 1990 this year, and the variety worked very well. It has a nice lean for netting, and shattering seemed to be minimal, even in strong winds. One grower I know grew CANTERRA 1990, 73-45, and 45H29, and said the CANTERRA 1990 was the best canola for straight combining in his experience.
These were just my observations from one year of straight combing and every year is different, others may have had different experiences than I have had.
We will continue to straight combine canola, and I believe it will gain popularity on many farms.