Canola School: A Crop (Not) Worth Combining

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Canola fields with spotty emergence and heat-blasted pods have farmers in parts of the prairies grappling with the thought that their crops might not be worth combining. But that doesn’t mean it’s time to till it under.

“There are some other uses for canola that we normally wouldn’t consider,” says Keith Gabert, agronomy specialist with the Canola Council of Canada. “One of the options that you have would be to silage it.”

According to the Saskatchewan Ministry of Agriculture, canola silage averages 12% to 14% crude protein, with total digestible nutrients around 55% to 60%. It’s advised that farmers hoping to feed canola silage talk to a beef nutritionist, and keep it at under 60% of the feed intake.

There are also some staging and moisture issues to consider.

“The general consensus is that you do need to wait for the crop to have a little bit of growth on it,” says Gabert, adding that most growers will silage the crop after it’s done flowering and give it time to dry in the swaths (to roughly 65% moisture) before putting it through the cutter.

Related: Canola silage tips via Alberta Agriculture

And though insurance companies don’t require a crop to be combined, Gabert suggests phoning your local insurance office so they can make an assessment or provide recommendations for check strips.

“If you’re accessing the crop insurance program, give your local office a call and let them know that you’re considering using it for some other use other than canola seed or grain.”

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