Swath timing

  • Rain delays harvest: What to do?

    Swath timing

    Harvest delays due to soggy soils, frequent rains and even mist have canola growers wondering about risk to the crop and what, if anything, they can do reduce these risks. Really, the only approach is to wait out the weather. When fields are able to support the swather, decide then whether the staging suits swathing or straight combining. This article answers these and other questions: What is the “point of no return” for swath timing? Will canola seeds sprout with all the rain? How much does cool, wet weather extend curing time?

    Questions that arise with long rain delays:

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  • Swath timing adjustment for hail, lodging, disease, uneven stands

    Swath timing

    swathing_canola_ClintJurke600

    Optimal swath timing for canola yield and quality is when at least 60% of seeds on the main stem are showing some colour change. Should growers adjust this approach in situations that make the decision more difficult? The following many help with those decisions….

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  • Swath timing for higher yield

    Swath timing

    Seeds with just a touch of brown or yellow are considered "colour changed". Credit: Brent Wiebe

    Optimal swath timing for canola yield and quality is when at least 60% of seeds on the main stem are showing some colour change. The arrow points to a seed with a touch of colour on the green. This counts as colour changed.

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  • Top 10 situations that increase straight-cut risk

    Swath timing

    Standing canola not harvested in a timely fashion can shell out.

    Most canola growers are familiar with straight combining, even if most have not tried it yet. New varieties with pod shatter resistance have helped with the overall comfort level for the practice. This article looks at situations where swathing may still have an advantage over straight combining.

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  • Late swathing or straight combining?

    Swath timing

    If canola is to be swathed later than optimal (with earliest pods shattering), cut in moist conditions (rain or heavy dew) to limit shattering as much as possible.

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  • Swath timing and disease

    Swath timing

    Alternaria infection

    With blackleg, sclerotinia stem rot and clubroot, base the swath timing decision on healthy plants that will contribute to yield. One exception where early swathing could provide an economic benefit is the case of severe alternaria black spot (shown).

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  • Swath timing for uneven crop

    Swath timing

    With distinctly different stages, it would be possible to swath these sections separately. Source: Nicole Philp

    If half the plants are ready and half are just beginning seed colour change, growers may want to hold off on swathing. By waiting 3 or 4 days, there is minimal risk for riper parts of the field and a huge potential benefit for later parts.

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  • Cutting lodged canola

    Swath timing

    Lodged canola.

    There is no clear advantage to swathing versus straight combining lodged crop. It often comes down to personal preference.

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  • Swath timing: Plant population and SCC

    Swath timing

    With fewer plants, a higher ratio of seeds comes from side branches. (Click image to enlarge.)

    Yield and quality benefit from leaving canola standing longer before swathing. The common recommendation is to wait until at least 50-60% seed colour change (SCC) on the main stem. But that may be overly simplistic — especially if plant populations are low. The graph shows that as plant populations drop, more and more yield will come from side branches.

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  • Strong growth plus wind and pounding rain = lodging

    Swath timing

    Lodged canola. This could still spring back up by harvest time. Credit: Warren Ward

    If it does not straighten up, the result can be higher levels of sclerotinia stem rot and harvest challenges.

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