CGC wants samples of spring-harvested canola and flax

Just like the fall harvest sample program, farmers will get a grade and quality information in return

An orange-ish hue is “a clue something is going on” with otherwise fine-looking spring-harvested canola, a CGC researcher says.

Farmers are being asked to submit samples of spring-harvested canola and flax to the Canadian Grain Commission (CGC) for research it’s doing that could help farmers and processors.

“Farmers who participate in this project will receive a detailed report (for free) on the quality of their spring-harvested crop, which they can use to make informed decisions on how to market their grain,” CGC communications co-ordinator Christianne Hacault said in an email May 6. “Project results will also be made available to customers of Canadian canola and flaxseed so they’ll be informed on how to manage changes in crop quality, if possible.”

Why it matters: Last fall an estimated 4.5 million acres of canola and flax didn’t get harvested, including almost 89,000 acres in Manitoba. Understanding the impact overwintering had on canola and flax will help farmers and processors to get the best out of such crops.

Véronique Barthet, program manager of oilseeds for the CGC’s Grain Research Laboratory, studied canola seeded in 2016 and harvested in 2017 and is anxious to examine the impact winter had on canola and flax this past winter.

Véronique Barthet. photo: Supplied

“What we saw sometimes (in the last study) was that the (canola) grade looked good but there were some chemicals in the seed and in some cases the free fatty acids were high,” Barthet said in an interview May 6.

Higher fatty acid levels result in canola oil going rancid more quickly and the oil may smoke at a lower cooking temperature.

“It’s like salt in soup,” she said. “Up to a certain point you can manage it, but after that you have to throw it away… Up to a certain point a processor can manage, but when it gets to a certain point they can’t.”

During previous research Barthet found some spring-harvested canola looked fine until crushed on a strip of paper when it would display an orangey colour.

“That’s a clue that something is going on,” Barthet said.

Her research also showed in some cases canola that graded No. 1 initially then deteriorated while in storage. The free fatty acid content also increased. Barthet said she wants to explore storage issues again.

The results could show farmers should sell spring-harvested canola, rather than store it, and the crusher that purchases it should process it quickly.

Farmers with CGC fall harvest sample envelopes can use them to submit samples of their spring-harvested canola and flax, Barthet said.

Envelopes are also available by contacting the CGC.

Samples should include when and where the sample was combined, whether it was straight cut or swathed, and if possible, the variety name.

In return for the samples the CGC will grade it and provide information on the oil and protein content and some other quality attributes.

However, getting the results to farmers will take longer than usual, Barthet said. To avoid COVID-19 the number of scientists working in laboratories is staggered to allow for physical distancing.

“Something that used to take two or three days will take a bit longer now…” she said.

“The producer will get the answer, but not right away. If they need the answer (on grade) right away… the (CGC) Service Centre is still open. Getting an official grade from the grain commission is still an essential service (but for a fee). They still have that route.”

The 2020 Spring Harvest Sample Program at a glance

In exchange for your samples, you’ll receive the following results:

  • Unofficial grade;
  • Oil, protein and chlorophyll content for canola;
  • Oil and protein content and iodine value for flaxseed;
  • Other results that are specific to this research project, such as information on the free fatty acid content.

(All grade and quality results are assessed by the Canadian Grain Commission. The grade provided is unofficial because samples aren’t collected by a Canadian Grain Commission inspector.)

You can mail in your samples using any Harvest Sample Program envelope. If you do not have a Harvest Sample Program envelope, contact the CGC to request one.

To mail in your 2020 spring harvest sample, include the following information on the front of your envelope:

  • The date it was harvested in spring 2020;
  • The approximate date it was cut (if different than the harvested date);
  • Whether it was straight cut or swathed;
  • The growing location;
  • The variety of the sample;
  • If the type of grain listed on the top right side of the envelope is incorrect, cross it out and write the correct grain type (canola or flaxseed).

Source: Canadian Grain Commission

About the author


Allan Dawson

Allan Dawson is a reporter with the Manitoba Co-operator based near Miami, Man. Covering agriculture since 1980, Dawson has spent most of his career with the Co-operator except for several years with Farmers’ Independent Weekly and before that a Morden-Winkler area radio station.



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