No one needs to be told that 2021 has been a challenging year.
To add to the challenge, some farmers are now facing the decision on how to harvest their canola. Should they swath or straight cut? Some may be considering straight cutting a canola crop that is typically a swath variety. The rationale for doing this is that the stem structure that would normally hold the swath in place is much shorter and weaker than in a typical year.
So, what’s the right call? Do you straight cut a variety that doesn’t have a straight cut or pod shatter rating, or do you swath and hope that it stays put? Truthfully, it depends.
If you know you have a variety that is meant for straight cutting, and a straight cut harvest is in your plan this year, then that is going to be your best bet (this includes CANTERRA SEEDS CS2100, CS2600 CR-T and CS4000 LL canola). While it is mechanically possible to straight cut swath varieties, there are a few things you will want to consider first.
The thicker the stand, the better, and if your canola is slightly lodged this is also a good thing. The combination of the two will help protect the pods from shattering since they’re likely more knit together and are therefore protected from wind.
Seed Colour Change and Maturity
If you are planning on straight cutting, you’re going to want to wait until you see 90% seed colour change and have relatively even maturity across the field. In some instances where the crop is stagey, a desiccant could be considered. Keep in mind that you are still looking for 90% seed colour change – if you have seed that hasn’t started to change, the green seed will be locked in. Always read the label before applying your desiccant if you go this route as some may need specific weather conditions to perform well.
Meanwhile, swathing is a great way to manage your maturity, with potential for more uniform seed maturity.
Check with your CANTERRA SEEDS Territory Manager or local seed rep to see if the variety you are growing is suitable for straight cutting. It may have a delay swath or borderline straight cut rating, which would make it slightly less risky to straight cut. Of course, any variety with a straight cut or pod-shatter rating will be safe to go ahead and direct harvest.
|CANTERRA SEEDS Canola Hybrids|
|CS2600 CR-T||CS2200 CL|
Keep in mind that with a variety that is intended to swath, there may be some seed loss due to shattering, either in the field or off the header. Timing will be essential as you need to have the right seed colour change, but you don’t want to leave the crop out longer than it needs. Unfortunately, there may be no perfect answer. Go through the various considerations and of course get a second (or third) opinion from a trusted neighbour, agronomist, or the Canola Council of Canada.
- Manitoba Cooperator: Consider Straight Combining Canola to Better Manage Harvest
- Grainews: To Straight Cut or To Swath?
- Canola Council of Canada: Guide to Managing Canola Harvest
However you may decide to harvest your canola this year, we hope you have an uneventful and successful harvest season!
Courtney Welch joined CANTERRA SEEDS in November 2020, as Canola Product Manager. Prior to CANTERRA SEEDS, she spent several years as an Agronomic Research Specialist with Monsanto/Bayer, working with their soybean, canola and corn breeding programs. Courtney has a B.Sc. degree in Plant Biotechnology from the University of Manitoba.