Many growers are swathing canola too green, giving up yield and quality potential. At 50% to 60% seed colour change on the main stem, seed on side branches should be firm enough to mature. Any seeds that are translucent and mushy when swathed are not mature, which will reduce their contribution to yield and increase the amount of curing that must take place in the swath. For more on harvest timing, click here to read the CCC’s Canola Time of Swathing Guide and click here to hear Doug Moisey, CCC senior agronomy specialist, on ACPC radio.
All seeds firm, but not changing colour. We have reports again this week of whole plants maturing at the same time. In this case, all seeds are firm, from top to bottom of the plant, but colour change has not started. In the absence of significant frost risk in the forecast, growers should hold off on swathing and let the plant continue to fill these seeds, increasing yield. As long as the pods are pliable, there is no immediate risk of shattering.
Wondering when to swath canola with sclerotinia, hail or frost damage? Click here to read the Canola Council of Canada news release from this week.
Cut stems sprout new leaves. With rain in the Peace after a long dry season, growers in the Wanham-Rycroft-Spirit River area are noticing regrowth in swathed canola. When drought-stressed canola finally gets some moisture, stubble can start growing new leaves. If harvest is delayed too long, this regrowth can entangle in the swath. The combine pickup rips off new leaves, and bits of shredded leaves can end up in the hopper — creating start points for heating. Spraying is not an option because residues will end up on the seed. The best action is to combine as soon as this canola is ready and weather conditions allow. Set the pickup as high as possible. And if green leaves are in the sample, aerate the bins and monitor stored canola closely all winter.
Fertilizer levels could be very low in fields too wet to seed. Soil tests are advised. Fertility reserves will have been reduced due to moisture-related losses, and while nutrients bound up in weeds and volunteers will remain in the fields, they may not be immediately available to next year’s crop.