Wait for 60 percent seed colour change

December 1, 2014

KEY PRACTICE: Swathing at 60 percent seed colour change, or later, tends to increase harvested yield.

KEY RESEARCH: Canola Council of Canada. “Time of Swathing Trial.” Crop Production Centre summary report (2001 and 2002).

Vera, C.L., Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada (AAFC), et al. “Yield and Quality of Canola Seed as Affected by Stage of Maturity at Swathing.” Canadian Journal of Plant Science (2007).


Growing spring canola in the moderately short growing season of the Canadian Prairies always tests the tipping point between maximum maturity time (to produce maximum yield) and avoiding the first frost. With growers taking on more acres than ever, the time crunch at harvest can make it tempting to begin swathing early. But the yield gain and improved quality that rewards additional time for colour change can make it well worth the wait.

The study that first shared these findings was published in the Canola Council of Canada’s (CCC) Crop Production Centre summary reports in 2001 and 2002 and has since been supported in subsequent literature. This 12-site year CCC study, carried out in locations across Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Alberta and one site in British Columbia, determined that the highest yielding swathed crops were cut at either 50 to 60 percent seed colour change (SCC) or 60 to 70 percent SCC on the main stem. Swathing progressively later (to a maximum of 60 to 70 percent SCC) also corresponded to increasingly better economics. By delaying swathing until 60 to 70 percent SCC, canola fields produced higher seed weights, greater oil content, lower green seed percentage and a higher grade.

Open the PDF to read the entire research summary from the 2014 Science Issue of Canola Digest

You can also read the 2014 Science Issue of Canola Digest as a flipbook

Visit the Canola Research Hub website to search the database of grower funded research

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