“I’ve been straight cutting canola on my farm for over 20-years.”
— David Vanthuyne
Straight cutting canola for harvest is an option, and it has become a better option because of technological advancements.
That was at the heart of a presentation by Watrous area producer David Vanthuyne at a BASF Knowledge Harvest event held in Yorkton last Thursday.
“I’ve been straight cutting canola on my farm for over 20-years,” he told a packed National Bank Convention Place room at the Gallagher Centre.
While straight cutting does not work on every acre on Vanthuyne’s fourth generation farm, and is not without its challenges, it is now what he termed “a valuable tool” in managing harvest.
“We target half to two-thirds of our (canola) acres to straight combine” he said, adding they typically plant 2000-3000 acres, so 1000-2000 acres would be straight cut.
The biggest reason for turning to additional straight cutting has been manpower.
Vanthuyne said he operates three combines in the fall, then has a man to run the grain cart and another for the grain bagger, making a crew of five. He said if he was to swath every acre he would “need nine guys,” and finding good harvest help is a challenge.
So “straight cutting canola has been a very good fit for us,” he said.
Vanthuyne noted that the decision to straight cut has been made easier since he started two decades ago.
New varieties which are bred specifically to be straight cut (pod tolerant types which resist shattering), and better combine headers have both enhanced straight cutting potential, he said.
But even with the new technology Vanthuyne said to straight cut canola does require planning, and that planning starts at planting.
“When you start in spring make sure you get the right plant density,” he said, noting having enough plants helps plants handle straight cutting better in the fall. “The crop stands tighter.”
And come fall, straight cutting requires time management.
“When you straight cut, when it’s ready to go you have to go,” said Vanthuyne.