PORTAGE LA PRAIRIE – Canola producers on the prairies now have assurance that straight cutting their crop is a viable option thanks to a detailed study of harvest methods undertaken by Prairie Agricultural Machinery Institute (PAMI).

“Swathing has always been the reliable harvest method for canola in Western Canada,” said Avery Simundsson, project leader with PAMI in Portage la Prairie, “but it’s good to understand what other options are available. The goal of our study was to provide information that will help people make economic decisions about which harvest method may work for them.”

Conducted in Manitoba during the 2016 growing season and funded by the Canada and Manitoba governments through Growing Forward 2, a federal-provincial-territorial initiative, the study evaluated four treatments: Reglone, Heat and glyphosate, natural ripening and swathing, which was the benchmark. Simundsson said the data collected showed the method of harvest does have a significant effect in some areas—productivity, harvest efficiency, fuel consumption, harvest speed, time to harvest and operator experience—but no significant difference was found in yield, engine speed, dockage, oil content, green seed or seed weight. She added there was an expectation that straight cutting would result in larger seeds and higher oil content but that did not turn out to be the case.

Simundsson stressed that straight cutting is most appropriate for shatter-resistant varieties of canola due to the reduced risk of shatter loss.

The study’s final report makes no recommendation for one harvest method over another “but if you have a critical harvest window due to factors like weather, manpower or acres left to harvest, I can imagine people using a combination of straight cutting and swathing. It’s very dependent on the producer and their particular operation but we want people to consider whatever method helps you get all of your canola off in the best possible condition.”

For the complete PAMI Research Report, click here.