Disease assessment. Pre-harvest is a good time to scout for disease severity. Fields with lots of diseased plants may also be poorer candidates for straight cutting due to the increased shattering risk. https://www.canolawatch.org/2014/07/23/video-begin-your-pre-harvest-disease-watch/
Seed colour change assessment. Take the time to check a few fields thoroughly, checking plants at a few sites to see what percentage of seeds on the main stem have turned colour, whether the seed are firm to roll, and to estimate what percentage of yield is on the main stem versus side branches. If the mainstem has fully turned, but the crop has a low plant population — thus a lot of branching — cutting early may be sacrificing more yield than you expected.
Count plants. The ideal plant stand is 7 to 10 plants per square foot, and any canola crop with fewer than 5 plants per square foot is not reaching its yield potential. A fall count of stems provides an end-of-season assessment of this year’s stand.
Prep the combine. Sharpen your chopper knives. Look for holes that canola could leak through. Take a look at these videos from past combine clinics, featuring tips for each combine brand.