Canola School: Straight cutting for the first time? Here's what you need to know

The debate continues across the Prairies on whether or not to straight-cut canola. While some producers have been doing it for years, the process can be a bit daunting for others who have been considering the option.

Shawn Senko, agronomy specialist with the Canola Council of Canada, says in this Canola School episode that if you have a straight-cut header around for other crops, you may want to consider leaving some of your canola standing this year to trial it.

“Just leave some of that canola to stand, and get a feel for it. Try a few acres, and see how that header feeds. If you need to make adjustments or changes, it’ll give you a year to do that,” he explains. “Don’t be scared to try it. Just let some stand, and give it a shot.”

When it comes to the benefits of straight cutting, Senko notes that the primary interest is the one pass in the field.

“There’s been people who have gone to straight cut 100 per cent, and they’ve gotten rid of their swather. But there’s also other guys who maybe don’t need to change to that swather every year, they are only doing a few acres of canola, and it’s less machinery cost. Now with a lot of the varieties that are geared towards straight-cutting and shatter tolerance, there’s somewhat less risk.”

Although there is less of a chance of crop loss due to weather, such as having your swaths blow around the field, it is important to keep in mind that when straight cutting, pre-harvest desiccation may be required.

“This year in places we’ve got really stagey crop, so there’s stuff that’s going to be mature, and there’s stuff that’s still going to be fairly green. Senko says that desiccation or a pre-harvest application of glyphosate can help to get rid of the green, but proper timing is critical. And don’t forget that the pre-harvest interval listed on products is from spray to cutting, not spray to harvesting.

To learn more about the considerations, check out the conversation between Kara Oosterhuis and Shaun Senko at CanolaPALOOZA at Lacombe, Alta: