Country guide west

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canola management

Jim Bessel, agronomy consultant and former CCC agronomy specialist, spoke about harvest loss management at canolaPALOOZA, an outdoor agronomy event hosted by the Canola Council of Canada and Alberta Canola Producers Commission at the Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada centre in Lacombe, Alberta in June. Photo: Earl Greenhough

How much loss it too much? “Each farm will have a different concept of how much loss is too much,” Brackenreed says. “Loss of half a bushel to one bushel per acre is considered an ideal balance between putting more in the tank and getting harvest done in a timely and efficient manner.” If losses are 2.0 bu./ac. or higher, slowing the combine ground speed may be the key to reducing those losses. See the sidebar next page for 10 ways to reduce combine losses, but growers may find that slowing the combine ground speed is an effective step. Bessel says that growers may discover that slowing from four m.p.h. down to three m.p.h., for example, puts an extra 1.0 bu./ac. in the grain tank. While this would increase revenue from each quarter by $1,600, he says it also means two to three more hours to combine that quarter. There is a risk trade-off. If growers can’t take that kind of time, Bessel encourages them to pencil out the cost of running a second combine so canola can be harvested at the slower ground speed and still get each quarter harvested in two to three fewer hours. If the combine is a rental and if it means an overall more timely harvest, this saved time creates economic value in addition to the saved bushel per acre, he says.

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“The approach to combine loss management comes down to the grower’s perception of risk,” Brackenreed says. Is combining slower a higher risk than throwing over a bushel or two? Is buying another combine riskier financially than taking it slow with one unit? “Either way, the decision has to start with a true picture of combine losses and the cost they represent,” she says. “Measure how much the combine is throwing over.” Bessel says measure first, then calculate, then adjust. “These need to be followed in sequence, otherwise you’re not accomplishing anything.” CG Jay Whetter is communications manager for the Canola Council of Canada. For more on this topic, search for “harvest loss” at www.canolawatch. org. While at the site, why not sign up for the free weekly agronomy newsletter from the CCC? Growers may also be interested in the Harvest Loss Calculator available through Saskatchewan Soil Conservation Association at www.ssca.ca.

Turn to next page for more of Jay’s best tips on how to get on top of canola harvest losses

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