Harvest and Storage

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  • Canola is heating in bins!

    This is steam coming off canola heating due to high moisture. This was not a welcome sight for the grower.

    This is not the kind of steam room you’re looking for on a cold winter day. This was taken inside a canola bin in the Peace River region last week. A spike in heated canola has been reported over the past couple weeks. Growers are encouraged to check all canola bins as soon as possible. Spoilage usually starts small and heating is not always detected by temperature cables until some of the grain is already damaged. Cooling the bin and stopping this early heating now can save a lot of money in lost grade and lost delivery options.


  • Time for November bin checks

    Bins Lanti

    This is the month to make sure stored canola is stable heading into winter. As outside temperatures drop below zero and stay there, canola growers want to make sure canola has cooled throughout the bin. This is also a good time to assess whether your storage measures up. Is it time for a heated air system, or a dryer? For more on storage considerations, we have archived videos on floors, fans, bag storage and other presentations from the Canola Council of Canada Storage Clinic in Brandon in 2012.


  • Be safe when handling grain

    Grain walls can let go quickly. Pick at them from outside the bin with a long pole. Source: Safe Farms, Manitoba

    Please be careful when climbing grain bins to open hatches or probe them, when using grain handling equipment, and while transporting grain.

    And certainly try to avoid entering bins to help improve grain flow and break crusting. Manitoba’s Safe Farms program provides the following tips on how to control the hazards from its “Flowing Grain Entrapment” factsheet….


  • What to do with high green canola

    Crush strips canola grade

    Step one is to know the green count. When shopping around for buyers, make sure your sample represents the canola you’ll deliver. Loads have been rejected because the canola delivered didn’t meet the specifications indicated in the original sample. The Canadian Grain Commission has tips on how to take a representative grain sample.


  • Don’t wait for green to clear

    Harvest canola combine

    In August and September, growers may want to let canola cure longer hoping for the warm and moist conditions required to clear green from their canola seed. By October, getting the crop off becomes the priority. Green seed is unlikely to turn anymore unless a lot of moisture (snow?) comes, in which case harvest may be delayed until spring. When good harvest days come along, the best option is likely to put canola in the bin.


  • Canola stays hot for weeks

    Heated canola, the brown burned seeds, mean an immediate downgrade.

    Canola binned hot will retain that heat for weeks and likely months, with the risk of storage losses rising with each passing day. Growers who binned hot canola in September and August will want to check that the temperature has come down to a safe storage level of below 15°C. Putting hot canola on air or turning it on a cool day is essential. Ideally, this is done soon after binning, but now may be soon enough to arrest the heating process.


  • Hot canola increases storage risk

    Turn on the fans to cool that hot canola.

    Canola storage experts recommend that hot canola be put on aeration for cooling, even if it’s dry. There will still be convection currents and some moisture movement within the bin, which can concentrate moisture at the bottom of the central core — creating a possible start point for heating.
    Aeration will also even out the temperature and moisture throughout the bin, preventing these hot spots from occurring.


  • Reasons for high green

    Green seed small

    Green seed will be a downgrade factor on some fields this year. Those at highest risk tend to be later crops that still had a lot of immature seeds when cold frosts hit two weeks ago. Green that results from a killing frost is locked in, and will not clear no matter how long it cures.

    Rapid drydown due to hot weather can also result in high green seed. In this case, green-clearing enzymes can restart, but seed moisture has to get back up to 20%. This will require a few days of rain and humidity, and continued warm weather.


  • Straw management issues

    Poor functioning spreaders leave some areas covered and some bare.

    Cereal straw management is especially important on fields planned for canola next year, given the impact uneven residue can have on seed placement and seedling survival. Cutting as high as you can and making sure the combine spread width matches the header width are important steps at harvest. Have someone check the spread pattern behind the combine. Sometimes just adjusting the spreader vanes is enough to improve results.


  • High green: Will it clear?

    Green seed cropped

    Frost stops the chlorophyll-clearing process in canola seed — usually permanently. High green counts are likely in fields that were not fully mature when the heavy frost hit last week.


  • Swath or straight combine frosted canola?

    Within a day after the frost, pedicels — the small stems attaching pods to stems — are drying out and snapping. These pods will start dropping, which is another reason to swath right away.

    This has been a common question after last week’s heavy frost. Growers wonder whether frost-damaged canola should be swathed or left standing for straight combining.

    By now, any pod splitting or pod drop due to tissue damage from the heavy frost has probably happened. This usually starts within a day of the frost event. If the crop is still sound, you can probably stick with original plan — whether that was to straight combine or swath. Note that if you plan to swath, an extra few days standing in these good conditions will probably help fill seeds and increase overall plant maturity, as long as those plants are still alive. If the frost has killed them, then waiting to swath probably won’t help.


  • Flattened by snow

    Photo credit: Garth Donald

    Canola fields flattened by snow last week are unlikely to spring back. If they’re still flat, they’ll be staying flat. There is no easy way to harvest this crop, but these tips may help….


  • How much are you throwing over?

    combine canola smalll

    Growers are showing new energy in harvest loss management this week, sparked in large part by Angela Brackenreed’s excellent cover article in the September 2014 issue of Canola Digest. Read it here.


  • Dockage and green elevate storage risk

    Storage and spoilage graph

    Know the quality of the canola going in the bin. Green seeds, weed seeds and dockage increase the risk. Even high quality canola can be at risk if stored hot (temperatures are coming back up so don’t let the snow fool you) or at moisture above 8%. Here are the details…


  • Pre-harvest intervals closing

    PHI insecticides

    Insect threats are minimal at this stage of the season, but if you have late fields and an insect hot spot — say for bertha armyworm — the options are limited.


  • Snow on standing canola. What to do?

    Snow in central Alberta, September 9. Credit: Rick Taillieu

    The key harvest management issue with snow on standing canola concerns not so much the precipitation (although heavy snow can cause lodging) but the frost that comes with it.

    The common scenarios growers face with the snow on standing canola are:

    1. Canola is immature when snow falls.

    2. Canola is ready to swath when snow falls.
    3. Canola left standing for straight combining is hit with snow.

    Here is a description of each scenario, along with some tips to help with decision making….


  • Too late to swath

    Crops left standing for straight combining could face high losses if growers change their mind and choose to swath after the crop has reached 80% seed colour change. If a field that ripe must be swathed, cut in very moist conditions (rain or heavy dew) to limit shattering as much as possible. The final decision on whether to swath or straight cut really needs to be made prior to the optimal swathing stage of 60% SCC.


  • Jobs to do while waiting for harvest weather

    Disease assessment.
    Seed colour change assessment.
    Count plants.
    Prep the combine.


  • Top 10 tips to reduce combine losses

    combine canola Lexion cropped

    Growers can lose up to 5 bu./ac. of canola during harvest, with many of those losses occurring as canola enters and exits the combine. Combine losses should be less than 1 bu./ac., and hopefully more like half a bushel.

    Here are the top 10 tips to keep combine losses to a minimum….


  • Alert: Snow on standing canola. What to do?

    Photo credit: Garth Donald

    The key harvest management issue with snow on standing canola concerns not so much the precipitation (although heavy snow can cause lodging) but the frost that comes with it.

    The common scenarios growers face with the snow on standing canola are:

    1. Canola is immature when snow falls
    2. Canola is ready to swath when snow falls.
    3. Canola left standing for straight combining is hit with snow.

    Here is a description of each scenario, along with some tips to help with decision making…


  • Swath timing issues — this week

    Lodged canola.

    The ideal swath timing is when 60% of seeds on the main stem are showing some colour change from green to brown. However, various factors complicate the swath timing decision, including frost and uneven crops due to hail. A few other scenarios surfaced this week, including late starts, disease and lodging (shown above).


  • Set the combine to reduce losses

    combine canola smalll

    Growers have three steps to assess combine losses:

    1. Measure the losses. Drop pans are required, given that combine loss monitors are not always accurate or calibrated properly. How to measure losses.
    2. Determine whether those losses are acceptable.
    3. If not acceptable, take measures to reduce the losses.

    Les Hill is the manager of technical services and business development for PAMI in Humboldt, Sask. He has 8 tips to reduce losses at the combine…


  • Sprouted canola seed — grading guide

    Sprouted canola seed.

    Excess moisture has caused some canola to sprout inside pods. There is not much growers can do to avoid this, and combining early is not an option — given the storage risk.

    Sprouted seed is categorized as “damaged” seed, which is a grading factor. No.1 canola can have a maximum 5% damaged seed. No.2 can have up to 12% damaged seed. No.3 can have up to 25% damaged.


  • Early, hot swathing can increase green

    Green seed cropped

    Swathing too early and in hot windy conditions can contribute to high levels of green seed.

    Cutting canola in hot conditions leads to rapid dry down and desiccation, which doesn’t give chlorophyll time to clear from immature seed. Waiting until less mature seed is at least firm to roll between thumb and forefinger will help minimize yield reductions from early swathing, but significant curing will still need to take place in the swath to remove green seed.


  • Swathing variable fields


    The swath decision becomes more difficult in crops with plants at multiple stages of growth. For example, if some plants are at 60% seed colour change (SCC) on the main stem and other plants are still flowering, growers may want to hold off on swathing. Or if plants are large with many secondary stems, the main stem may be at 60% SCC, but seeds in side branches are still mushy and green. These seeds would wither up and amount to nothing if the crop is swathed at 60% SCC on the main stem.

    Here are some tips to help with the swath decision on these fields….


  • Have bins ready for canola

    Full bin canola

    Canola growers have three quality and trade issues to keep in mind when storing the crop:

    1. Do not put canola in bins treated with malathion. Malathion is often used inside bins to control grain storage insects, however this insecticide can enter canola seed in storage and should not be used on bins storing canola.

    2. Completely remove treated seed from bins, augers and trucks.

    3. Clean out any animal protein (blood meal or bone meal, for example) from bins used to store canola.


  • Farm safety at harvest

    Harvest combine and tractor

    Harvest is a farmer’s busiest time of the year and unfortunately one of the most dangerous. Fatigue and stress often leads to shortcuts and unsafe practices during this time but it is essential to take breaks, slow down, follow safe practices, and ensure everyone on the farm is trained to do the task at hand. Safe Work Manitoba provides the following safety tips at harvest…


  • The export effect: your spraying choice now may affect your worldwide market tomorrow

    Insects or disease may only have minor impacts on your yield at first, but spraying for them at the wrong time can have huge impacts on viable international markets by the end of the season. The canola industry works hard to keep a competitive, stable and open trade environment for canola and build strong relationships with customers around the world because international customers love clean Canadian canola. Make sure you help keep it clean by:

    Respecting Pre-Harvest Intervals (PHIs)
    Only using pesticides registered for use on canola
    Following canola storage recommendations
    Planting only R (resistant) or MR (moderately resistant) rated canola varieties
    Not growing de-registered varieties


  • Keep It Clean: Keep treated seed out of hauled grain

    As growers transition from seeding back to grain hauling to get bins cleaned out and ready for harvest, there are two timely “Keep It Clean” messages to keep in mind:

    1. Carefully clean all treated seed and seed treatment dust out of the trucks and augers. Elevators are watching for this, and may reject loads where treatment is detected. This also presents a potential trade risk for any canola customers who may find seed treatment traces in a shipment.

    2. Do not use malathion on bins planned for canola. Malathion is used to control grain storage insects in bins, but malathion can be absorbed by canola seed stored in those bins. Therefore, malathion cannot be sprayed in canola bins any time within six months of canola going into those bins.


  • Need more bin space?

    bin in river

    With a bumper harvest predicted for many areas, bin space will be at a premium. Not all canola will be able to go on aeration right away. And not all canola will be going into bins originally planned for canola. This has its risks.


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