Growers with thin crops are wondering whether straight combining is better than swathing. Straight combining tends to work best on thick stands with plants meshed together to prevent whipping in the wind. But thin stands are at risk of wind damage whether swathed or straight combined. When thin stands are swathed, often there isn’t enough stubble to hold the windrow in place and prevent it from rolling in the wind.
If growers decide to swath thin crop, keep the following recommendations in mind:
• Swath parallel to the typical prevailing winds in the area.
• Cut plants as high as possible, just below the lowest pod. That will provide the highest stubble possible to keep the windrow in place.
• Use a properly-adjusted swath roller to push down the swath so the edges are nestled into the stubble. Because the swath will be on or close to the ground, curing and/or dry down time may take longer.