By: Mitchell Japp, MSc, PAg, Provincial Specialist, Cereal Crops; Matthew Bernard, MSc, PAg, Provincial Specialist, Oilseeds; Dale Risula, MSc, PAg, Provincial Specialist, Special Crops
In some cases, contamination due to soil tag in the grain sample and shrunken or shriveled kernels that were immature at harvest time may lead to reduced grade. Combine settings may decrease the content of these (easier if they are dry), or an increased risk of heating due to green, moist material included with the stored grain.
Consider the potential for grade reduction and a reasonable estimate of yield for the crop and compare it with the potential for greenfeed to determine if harvest is worthwhile. While the rains received in June revived crop pastures, the hay crop is still small, so the price of feed is relatively high. The ideal stage for harvesting for greenfeed is generally soft dough for most cereals, so market options should be considered soon. In some cases, they may have already passed.
For flax producers, managing straw as effectively as possible now will minimize headaches next year. There are a few options to manage flax straw at harvest. Chopping and spreading is common; with this approach, straw should be as dry and uniform as possible at harvest and therefore might require desiccation. If an earlier variety was seeded, this will have also been an advantage to preparing the crop for chopping and spreading. Because of the higher volume of material running through the combine, this method can be slower.
There might be some interest from flax straw buyers depending on the year; in this case, straw is baled or bunched intact and not chopped. The buyer will have specific requirements, so be sure to communicate with a buyer in advance of managing straw with this method. Potential straw buyers can be found on SaskFlax's website.
A less common approach to manage flax straw is using a stripper header; this approach allows a much faster ground speed, less wear on the combine, earlier harvest without the use of a desiccant and intact straw that is anchored/uniformly distributed. Depending on the equipment you use for seeding, however, this approach can be challenging in the spring.
Lastly, some producers bunch and burn flax straw; while this is not a recommended approach, it is important to inquire with your rural municipality and obtain a permit in advance. This approach poses many negative implications, including risk of fires getting out of control, environmental and respiratory hazards, driving hazards when near roads, and inconsistent nutrient distribution in the field.