Sponsored: Get all you can from your canola
Roughly 21 million acres of canola were seeded in Canada in 2019, according to Statistics Canada.
Although straight cutting is catching on for canola, Torey Hadland, a regional sales manager for CLAAS in Canada, estimates the majority of those acres were still swathed.
“The biggest [drawback] with straight cutting canola is pod shatter. If there were no risk of pod shatter, more people would be doing it,” he says.
When evaluating harvest methods, producers need to consider several key variables. According to the Canola Council of Canada, both swathing and straight cutting – or a combination of the two – can help speed harvest efficiency, depending on the producers’ circumstances and varieties.
The CCC recommends assessing each canola crop based on topography, maturity, variety, crop canopy, disease, frost and other environmental risks to determine a harvest method.
Hadland says producers should also evaluate the combines they’re working with before opting to straight cut their canola.
“The header is very important – you want to ensure you can harvest the crop and collect all the seed if there’s shatter,” he says.
“The second thing is that you want a big feeder house, because the material coming in is so bunchy you have to be able to handle it. Then, you have to have a big threshing area to be able to handle the material and clean the crop efficiently, because there’s just so much material coming in. Also, the seed is so small that you have to have an efficient cleaning system on your combine to minimize losses.”
Jenna Zeorian, a marketing specialist for CLAAS, says a feature of the company’s Lexion combine can help producers maximize harvest efficiency.
The combine’s Cemos Automatic system autonomously and automatically adjusts threshing, separation and cleaning settings based on sensor data, so producers don’t have to make adjustments manually, she says.
“The machine can sense changes in the crop and changes in the yield, and automatically adjust more quickly and accurately than even a seasoned operator. You don’t have to stop and recalibrate – the machine will make the adjustment on the fly.”
Side-by-side field trials have shown that Lexion combines with Cemos Automatic systems offer 10 per cent more throughput than machines with manual operators, as well as 58 per cent less grain loss.
Jason Friesen farms 21,000 acres near Quill Lake, Sask. This year, Friesen is growing 11,000 acres of canola. He says his operation has moved to 80 to 90 per cent straight cutting.
“We try and pick straight cut varieties or pod shatter varieties. Generally, for other varieties that aren’t certified for pod shatter, we’ll do some trials on part of a quarter and see how it holds up and swath the rest of it. There are some varieties that we’ve been straight cutting for years that aren’t actually pod shatter varieties,” he says.
Friesen says CLAAS combines are a good fit for straight cutting canola on his operation. “Our CLAAS combines can handle the greener tougher straw better than other rotors we’ve had in the past – when the seed is ready we can go, we don’t have to wait for the straw to dry down,” he says.