Start small when straight cutting canola for the first time

This year’s thin canola crop may force some producers to take their chances with straight cutting.

“Typically we recommend a well-knit, even crop — something that the wind won’t shake, rattle, and roll — so that we prevent shattering and loss,” said Keith Gabert, Canola Council of Canada agronomist.

“This year will be a little different. I have a lot of growers saying they’re going to try straight cutting because they have a thin enough crop that they don’t want to put it on the ground. They’re afraid to swath it… It’s podding a couple of inches from the ground. There’s not enough stubble to anchor that swath even if they did cut it.”

Those who haven’t straight cut before should hedge their bets, he said.

“Start swathing a little later, when you’re well past that 30 per cent (colour change),” said Gabert. “When you start feeling concerned that your swather is shelling things out, then you stop. Hopefully that’s leaving you with 20 or 30 per cent of your crop left standing to swath so you’re not putting all your eggs into one basket by straight cutting for the first time.

“It’s going to be a learning opportunity for us, and I hope it’s not a lesson we repeat.”

About the author

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Jennifer Blair

Jennifer Blair is a Red Deer-based reporter with a post-secondary education in professional writing and nearly 10 years of experience in corporate communications, policy development, and journalism. She's spent half of her career telling stories about an industry she loves for an audience she admires--the farmers who work every day to build a better agriculture industry in Alberta.

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