Canola quality with winter or spring harvest

Combining canola after the ground has frozen can work fairly well, especially for standing crop. In fact, when putting ice and snow covered canola plants through the combine, colder temperatures (-10°C to -20°C) may be better than temperatures around 0°C. That’s because ice and snow may stay frozen as it move through the combine, reducing the amount of moisture reaching the grain tank.

See the CGC harvest report for 2019. (Based on Harvest Sample Program samples submitted to date.)

Quality of over-wintered canola – 2016-17 experience

Canola harvest was delayed in 2016, with millions of acres harvested in November and December and the following spring. The Canadian Grain Commission reported on the quality of late-harvested and spring-harvested canola, using samples sent in through its Harvest Sample Program. Of those samples, 60% graded No. 1 or 2.

Here is an excerpt from the spring report:

“Of the 161 spring canola samples, 55 were graded No.1 Canada (34.2%), 41 were graded No.2 Canada (25.5%), 33 samples graded No.3 Canada (20.5%) and 32 samples graded Sample (19.9%), respectively. Samples were downgraded due to the high levels of total damaged seeds associated with sour, musty and rancid odors. The seed color was not natural; an orange tint was observed once the seeds were crushed. It is likely that some producers did not send in samples when they determined that their spring canola seeds were of very low quality.”

Higher free-fatty acids in spring-harvested canola. As a result, spring-harvested canola can be less stable in storage so it should be delivered and processed soon after harvest. .Here’s an excerpt from a Canola Digest article:

“Processors also pay attention to free fatty acids (FFAs) in the oil. These oxidize (go rancid) quickly and affect the smell and taste of oil, so they have to be removed in processing. Processing companies have a cap of 0.5 or 1.0 per cent FFAs on the canola they’ll accept without penalty. This is usually easily achieved. Average FFAs content was 0.17 per cent over the past five years. The trend is flat, but some regions have weather-related blips. Manitoba averages were 0.34 and 0.33 per cent in 2016 and 2015, mostly due to hot summers. Canola spring-harvested in Alberta and Saskatchewan in 2017 also had high in FFAs. CGC research on spring-harvested canola in 2017 found it to be less stable, showing a rapid rise in FFAs after just one month in storage. “For that reason, farmers may want to sell spring-harvested canola right away and processors may want to crush it right away,” says Veronique Barthet of the CGC.

For more on FFAs, what are they and how they degrade oil quality, this article will be helpful.

Harvest Sample Program. Growers who participate in the Canadian Grain Commission’s Harvest Sample Program get an unofficial grade, including dockage, oil content and chlorophyll (green) content for their canola. The CGC also uses the results to estimate the overall quality of Canada’s canola crop. Register online to receive a harvest sample kit.  Samples are accepted until the end of November but send as soon a harvest is complete. The program accepts samples from a number of key crops, including major oilseed, cereal and pulse crops grown in Canada.