Published on Wed, 09/06/2017 by BASF Canada

Pre-harvest herbicide application improves harvest efficiency in canola

Growers know that running an efficient farming operation is crucial to maximizing profitability in today’s fast-paced farming environment. Straight combining canola is one way that growers can maximize efficiency on their farm.

Field trials show that straight cutting with a pre-harvest herbicide application can boost yields by 3.5 bushels per acre.

With straight cutting, growers only have one field operation, instead of going out twice, to swath, then harvest. This helps growers save time and labour costs. Straight cutting can also help growers get more from their crop; it occurs later than swathing, giving canola more time to mature and produce larger seeds, which contribute to higher yields. Field trials show that straight cutting with a pre-harvest herbicide application can boost yields by 3.5 bushels per acre.

Chris Holzapfel is a research manager with the Indian Head Agricultural Research Foundation. His work at the foundation is dedicated to promoting profitable and sustainable agriculture. “As we try to make our agricultural systems as efficient as possible, it’s a natural progression to want to straight cut canola, as it’s a good way to increase harvest efficiency,” he said.

Although straight cutting increases efficiency and provides yield benefits, following best practices is key to ensuring straight cutting success. Reducing pod shatter and pod drop losses are a priority when harvesting canola with any method.

Choosing shatter-tolerant canola varieties is an important first step in reducing losses. Properly timing a pre-harvest herbicide is also essential to straight cutting success.

A pre-harvest application of a herbicide such as Heat LQ plus glyphosate dries down weeds and improves crop uniformity, making it easier to straight cut and maximize yield potential. However, Holzapfel emphasizes the importance of timing. “Be patient. You don’t want to go in with that pre-harvest application too early.” Growers should apply a pre-harvest herbicide when the seeds on the bottom two-thirds to three-quarters of the plant have changed colour. “The best way to look for that change is to get in the field and open those pods to see the colour. Then, once that canola is ready, you’ll want to harvest it as soon as possible to prevent losses.”

Jeremy Pluim is a grower from Wetaskiwin, Alberta. He uses Heat LQ tank-mixed with glyphosate when he straight cuts his canola. “Mixing Heat LQ with glyphosate helps dry down our crop, while controlling weeds and Roundup Ready canola volunteers,” he said. “We’ve been straight cutting for five years. We like it because it saves us a pass, and we also get a bit of a yield bump with the larger seeds and better oil content. Including a pre-harvest application improved the harvestability, increased our profits and helped us get in and out of the field in no time.”

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