Canola harvest considerations to ponder

Things to keep in mind when the canola starts coming off the fields

“A lot of canola may be swathed, due to second growth from hail, but all canola requires more heat before harvest begins,” says Harry Brook, crop specialist at the Alberta Ag-Info Centre. “It is a good idea to review conditions needed prior to swathing or treatment prior to straight cutting.”

He says that canola should be swathed when the average seed moisture content is 30 to 35%, which corresponds to 60% of seeds having some colour change.

“Swathing decisions should be based on observations of seed colour change on the plant’s main stem if the crop is thick with few lateral branches. If the crop is a thin stand, with a lot of lateral branching and most of the pods are on the lateral, then use the colour change on the lateral branches to decide when to swath.”

“At the optimal time for swathing, seed in the middle third of the stem will have at least some colour change, the most mature seed in the bottom third of the stem will have complete colour change, and the seed in top pods will be green but firm and should not squish when rolled between fingers.”

“Assess where the majority of the yield is and use that to determine time of swathing. Keep in mind that pod colour change may be a poor indicator of maturity, so it is essential to check for seed colour change throughout the field to best estimate harvest staging.”

Under hot conditions, canola should be swathed early in the morning or later at night. The big danger in swathing canola under very warm conditions is the risk of locking in the green colour due to too rapid a dry down. Chlorophyll in the seed is one of the last things to be removed prior to seed maturity.

“It takes time for the crop to cure out and remove all green seed,” he adds. “If you swath too early or during the heat of the day, the curing process can occur too rapidly and the enzyme may not have enough time to remove all chlorophyll. The enzyme that clears the green colour out is most active at temperatures above 15 C. Seed moisture content must be at 20% or more. The warmer the temperature, the more active the enzyme will be and the quicker the colour will be cleared.”

Brook says that another cause of green seed is from an untimely frost, which could be a real risk for late seeded crops this year.

“When immature canola – either standing or freshly swathed – is hit with sustained cold temperatures below zero, ice crystals form in the plant cells and break the walls, letting the cell liquid leak out. Like a too-rapid dry down, this can lock in the green colour. The only way this can be removed is if the seed is rewetted and temperatures are warm enough to reactivate the enzyme. To prevent green seeds in canola, the crop should be swathed at least three days before the killing frost, allowing the crop to dry where it will not be affected by the cold.”

Harvesting the crop is not the end of the story, and Brook says that the temperature of the crop at harvest is very important, too.

“Safe storage of any crop is a combination of the temperature of the crop entering the bin and the moisture level of the crop. There have been producers who have binned their canola at 10% moisture, assuming it was dry, and a couple months later they find a bin of heated canola. Under hot or warm conditions, once the crop is in the bin there is a circulation of moisture from the sides, down to the bottom and then up through the middle. If there is any moisture accumulation or heating occurring in the bin in the fall, it will be near the top to the middle of the bin.”

If the crop is coming into the bin hot with temperatures above 25 C, he adds that it is essential to cool it as soon as possible.

“Using an aeration bin is the easiest way to do it. Those without aeration will have to move the grain to cool it. Do not confuse aeration with grain drying. Aeration requires fans to move 0.75 to 1.0 cu.ft. per minute per bushel. Cooling requires fans to move air at a fraction of that, 0.1 to 0.25 cu. ft. per minute per bushel.”

“Regardless of the method, with the big investment to get the crop seeded and harvested, it is only common sense to spend the necessary resources to ensure your valuable crop makes it to the market in good condition, as good as it was when it entered the bin,” concludes Brook.

“Using temperature sensors in the bin is another good way to monitor the canola condition. Even a metal rod shoved into the bin can be used for a sensor to indicate the condition of the crop.”

-Alberta Agri-news

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Alberta has 3,651 active cases of COVID-19. (File photo)
432 new COVID cases sets another record Friday

Central zone holds steady at 126 active cases

"We are looking seriously at the spread and determining what our next steps should be," says Alberta’s chief medical officer of health, Dr. Deena Hinshaw, as the daily number of COVID-19 cases continues to climb.
427 new COVID cases is highest in Alberta ever

Central zone has 126 active cases of COVID-19

COVID-19. (Image courtesy CDC)
Temporary COVID-19 testing sites coming to Wetaskiwin and Ponoka

The Wetaskiwin location will open Oct. 23, 2020 and the Ponoka location will open Oct. 29.

COVID-19. (Image courtesy CDC)
City and County of Wetaskiwin reporting active cases

Both the City of Wetaskiwin and County of Wetaskiwin have active cases.

Alberta chief medical officer of health Dr. Deena Hinshaw updates media on the Covid-19 situation in Edmonton on Friday March 20, 2020. nbsp;Alberta is reporting it's highest daily number of COVID-19 cases, with 364 new infections. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson
Alberta confirmed 323 COVID-19 cases Tuesday

Central zone active cases at 145

B.C. Liberal leader Andrew Wilkinson, B.C. NDP leader John Horgan and B.C. Greens leader Sonia Furstenau. (Black Press Media)
VIDEO: One day until B.C. voters go to the polls in snap election defined by pandemic

NDP Leader John Horgan’s decision to call an election comes more than a year ahead of schedule and during a pandemic

Ryen Williams, 11, with a lost miniature horse at JJ Collett Oct. 23. Photo by Don Williams
UPDATE: Owners found

Father and son found him while out for a walk at JJ Collett

A Le Chateau retail store is shown in Montreal on Wednesday July 13, 2016. Le Chateau Inc. says it is seeking court protection from creditors under the Companies’ Creditors Arrangement Act to allow it to liquidate its assets and wind down its operations.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ryan Remiorz
Clothing retailer Le Chateau plans to close its doors, files for CCAA protection

Le Chateau said it intends to remain fully operational as it liquidates its 123 stores

U.S. border officers at the Peace Arch crossing arrested two men on California warrants this week. (File photo)
Ottawa predicts system delays, backlogs unless court extends life of refugee pact

Canada and the United States recognize each other as safe places to seek protection

Conservative member of Parliament Michelle Rempel Garner, left to right, Conservative Leader Erin O’Toole and Conservative Deputy Leader Candice Bergen arrive to hold a press conference in Ottawa on Thursday, Oct. 22, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
No-confidence showdown over sweeping Tory motion on government handling of pandemic

The Conservative motion is to be put to a vote Monday and has the support of both the Bloc Québécois and NDP

From l-r., first lady Melania Trump, President Donald Trump, moderator Kristen Welker of NBC News, Democratic presidential candidate former Vice President Joe Biden and his wife Jill Biden on stage at the conclusion of the second and final presidential debate Thursday, Oct. 22, 2020, at Belmont University in Nashville, Tenn. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)
Trump, Biden fight over the raging virus, climate and race

Republican president declared the virus, which killed more than 1,000 Americans on Thursday alone, will “go away.”

JJ Collett Natural Area Foundation held its AGM on Oct. 19 at the Ponoka Legion. (Emily Jaycox/Ponoka News)
De-listing Alberta parks creates ‘risk’ for coal mining: CPAWS

Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society speaks at JJ Collett AGM

(File photo)
Ponoka’s seen rise in relationship ‘disharmony,’ domestic violence during COVID-19

While there has been an increase in files, not all have required charges to be laid

ACC President and CEO Ken Kobly spoke to Ponoka Chamber of Commerce members over Zoom on Oct. 20. (Image: screenshot)
Alberta chambers are ‘411’ to members, government: ACC president

Changes to government supports, second wave and snap election

Most Read