Canola School: Keeping profits in the combine and off the ground


According to the Canola Council of Canada (CCC), average harvest losses in the field can range from 0.2 to one bushel per acre, and can reach 5 bu/ac or more in extreme conditions. That’s why the council is encouraging producers to pay attention to what’s coming out the back of the combine.

“The number one thing is, we just want people out there actually looking to see what they’ve got for combine losses,” says Shawn Senko, agronomy specialist with the CCC, who adds a project completed approximately five years ago saw combine losses ranging from three to six per cent, across Western Canada. Ideally, he says, it should be less than about 2 per cent loss.

And, Senko says it’s important to check combine losses regularly.

“There’s not that one setting that you can simply find, and assume your losses now are good for the rest of the season.”

Losses can change any time the movement of material through the machine changes. Expect this, especially, when changing between swathing and straight cutting; moving to a different field; shifting into a swath that has been down for a different amount of time; and, even as the day progresses from moist in the morning to dry in the afternoon.

“The actual tools for measuring can be as simple as a baking pan, right down to…there’s a lot of automated drop pans now you can pick up,” says Senko. “There’s multiple companies selling them to make life easier and safer if you’ve got one of those, but don’t be scared to try with a regular pan.”

Online calculators make it simple to calculate too, says Senko, adding you’ll need to know the size of the pan, width of the header, and the width of the combine’s sieve.

If losses are coming in high, the Canola Council of Canada suggests checking the operators’ manual to ensure you’re within the range of settings for canola, then adjust one variable at a time, to try to improve the combine’s performance.

Find more on harvest management, assessing losses and possible solutions to specific situations, from the Canola Council of Canada.

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