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When’s the Optimal Time to Swath My Canola?

There’s no calendar date for canola swath timing and driving past the field won’t help you in finding the right time to cut. The interaction between the environment and your canola field’s genetics plays a large role in when your crop is ready to swath – so how do you know when it’s time?

That Optimal Swathing Window #

Optimal canola swath timing is at 60% seed colour change (SCC) or later. Though this may seem easy enough to determine, you can best assess this by going in the field and cracking open the pods. When looking at the main stem of the plant, seeds from pods on the bottom third of the plant should be brown-black in colour, while pods in the middle of the plant should have brown seeds, and seeds from the top of the plant should still be green but firm.

“When determining swath timing, it’s best to look where the bulk of the yield is coming from,” said Justine Cornelsen, BrettYoung Agronomic & Regulatory Services Manager. “If the majority of the yield is in the side branches, then they need to be looked at to help determine overall SCC of the field.”

Roughly 10 days after flowering ends is when you should start monitoring your field for SCC. Extreme heat and sunscald may make plants appear that they are further along in maturity then they really are. Cornelsen recommends checking it every couple of days to monitor the crop’s progress and to be ready when the optimal swath window hits. On average, SCC will increase by 10% every two to three days – but hot, dry conditions can increase this rate.

Once you’ve swathed your canola, the seeds don’t continue to fill, hence the focus on cutting plants when they near maturity to minimize yield losses. Cornelsen said seeds reach their physiological maturity and complete filling at around 40% moisture. Swathed canola can take anywhere from a few days to a few weeks to dry to a harvestable level depending on the environment.

Why Swath Canola? #

Canola in a swath takes some time to dry down, sure, but this method typically allows for an earlier harvest and flexibility when navigating a short harvest period in the fall. Uneven fields are sometimes easier to place in a swath, especially with plant biomass that’s fairly green and with plants of varying maturity.

“If you haven’t sold your swather yet, BY 6216TF is the hybrid for you,” said Cornelsen.

BY 6216TF is a mid-maturity hybrid with full season yield performance and DefendR®-rated clubroot and blackleg resistance. This hybrid has some height to it, but a great standability to help lay it in a swath.

Cornelsen added that while swathed canola acres may be on the decrease, it remains a great option when looking for that flexibility during harvest. BY 6217TF comes equipped with Pod DefendR®, our shatter reduction trait that makes the hybrid suitable for straight cutting. It also has blackleg and clubroot DefendR-rated protection and the flexibility of the TruFlex™ system.

To view our complete canola portfolio, click here.

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