After what can only be described as a unique growing season across the province, what is being billed as a unique canola harvest has begun. Kristen Phillips is the Manitoba agronomy specialist with the Canola Council of Canada.
She tells us the crop is anywhere from three weeks away from swathing to already being combined. She says depending on where you are in the province, the crop is from 0% to 80% swathed, with Manitoba's entire canola crop approximately 30% swathed. Some combining has begun, with up to 20% of acres in some areas already harvested. She notes less than 5% of the crop is in the bin. Phillips says early yields are ranging from 10 to 50 bushels per acre, noting it's difficult to predict what the provincial average will be because so few acres have come off.
Uneven maturity in canola this fall will provide some challenges to farmers trying to swath and ultimately combine the crop. She says the best advice is to get out in the field and scout the crop. Phillips stresses with the uneven crop in many locations, farmers will need to take more time assessing it prior to making a decision on when to swath it. The Canola Council of Canada recommends swathing at 50% to 60% seed colour change. Phillips notes you need to get in field and open pods to check for seed colour change, don't simply go on seed pod change because there is a considerable amount of sun scald on pods this year.
With warm temperatures expected to continue for the next week, growers may also have to adjust when they are swathing their canola. Phillips suggests swathing later in the day into the night in order to use the dew on the crop to your advantage. For those combining she stresses aeration in the bin will be key, because the crop is coming off so warm. The crop is going to sweat, leading to volatile bin conditions for the first couple of weeks. Phillips notes once the crop is in the bin make sure to check it regularly to ensure spoilage isn't developing.