Hail late in the season can break pods and bruise seeds. Damaged plants will dry off prematurely.
Often the best way to manage canola with late-season hail damage is to swath the crop instead of straight combining. That way damaged pods don’t shell out while the grower waits to straight combine the crop. Also, bruised seeds – which generally will not mature – will have time in the swath to shrivel up so they blow out the back of the combine.
Keys to the decision:
Wait a week then assess the level of damage. If less than 10 per cent of plants are damaged, don’t change your harvest plans.
If hail damage is significant, swath a little earlier – when seeds have reached 30 per cent to 40 per cent seed colour change and when the latest seeds in side branches are firm. This is a compromise. The goal is to limit shelling loss from damaged plants while preserving the yield and quality potential of undamaged plants.
FOR A SHORT AND LODGED CROP
Lots of crop is short this year, and with heavy rains in spots last week, some of that short crop is now lodged. Swathing is preferred over straight cutting for short crop – even when lodged.
Here’s a recap of tips for swathing short, lodged crop:
Swath parallel to the typical prevailing winds in the area.
Cut plants as high as possible, just below the lowest pod. That will provide the highest stubble possible to keep the windrow in place.
Use a properly adjusted swath roller to push down the swath so the edges are nestled into the stubble. Because the swath will be on or close to the ground, curing and/or dry-down time may take longer.