Published on Wed, 06/07/2017 by BASF Canada

Proper machinery and a pre-harvest drydown can maximize straight cutting success

With unpredictable autumn weather, harvest timing is often a balancing act. This was clear in 2016, when early snow arrived in October and interrupted harvest. Many growers found themselves with some of the 2016 crop still out in the field and little or no fall field work done.

Incorporating straight cutting some acres can help balance harvest timing, reducing some of the risks and helping growers get their crops in the bin.

Straight cutting is gaining interest across Western Canada with total acres and acres per grower increasing every year. A 2015 Ipsos study found that 82 per cent of growers surveyed who had already tried straight cutting were interested in continuing to straight cut and expanding their straight cutting acres.

Straight cutting provides many benefits. It balances harvest timing by allowing canola to stand out in the field and mature longer than swathed canola. This extra time in the field increases the potential for larger seeds with higher oil content and decreases the risk for yield quality loss due to swaths blowing or being compromised by snow or wet weather. Using the appropriate machinery, along with a pre-harvest herbicide application speed up harvest operations, helping growers save on time, labour and fuel costs.

Research from the Prairie Agricultural Machinery Institute, in partnership with the Indian Head Agricultural Research Foundation, found that extension headers that allow the cutter bar to be shifted forward hold the advantage for straight cutting. Nathan Gregg, Project Manager for Applied Agricultural Services at PAMI, said that such extension headers showed a clear advantage over all other systems. “Our research shows that draper headers have a slight advantage over rigid table auger-type headers. However, extension headers have a clear advantage over all other systems, with the lowest amount of losses out of all the headers we tested.”

In addition to using the proper machinery, incorporating a pre-harvest herbicide application can further maximize yield potential while improving straight cutting efficiency.

Jason Swan straight cuts some of the canola on his farm in Beechy, Saskatchewan. “We’ve used Heat LQ to help us with our harvest for the past few years,” he said. “Heat LQ helps us dry down the plants, make it easier to cut, and helping the plants flow more smoothly through the combine. We also like it because it helps us stage out our harvest. It just dries down the plants faster and makes our whole harvest much easier.”

Using an application of Heat LQ tank-mixed with glyphosate helps speed up crop drydown and controls tough weeds to set up the field for the next season. This increases crop uniformity, making it easier to straight cut while minimizing dockage and maximizing yield potential.

Straight cutting provides Canadian growers with harvest options, helping to manage harvest timing and speed up field operations. Pre-harvest herbicide applications and proper equipment use help growers achieve straight cutting success.

© 2017 BASF Canada Inc.