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More direct answers

If you normally swath canola before harvesting it, there’s never been a better time to review that approach.

Think of all the reasons why you see direct heading as too risky or inconvenient. New technology means there’s almost certainly a good answer to every potential drawback.

On the positive side, direct heading means an upfront saving of at least $30–40 a hectare because you’re reducing two processes to one. You’ll also be saving yourself the perennial worry about getting the windrowing timing spot-on. The canola in most paddocks matures so unevenly that you can never get it right for the whole crop anyway. 

Technology has advanced on two fronts in recent years, and the first of those fronts is attached to the header. John Deere’s 600X extendable draper is the sort of innovation that makes direct-heading much more efficient. It combines integrated mechanical-drive side knives that cut very cleanly through standing canola with an extendable table or apron which catches more seed. The result is a quicker process that maximises yields.

The other big advance goes back a while now. Our unique PodGuard® pod-strengthening trait has repeatedly proven how effectively it reduces shattering and seed loss in extreme weather events, through the harvesting process and just as crops are left standing in the paddock for extra days or weeks. 

Independent research has shown that NVTs don’t show the true yield advantage of PodGuard varieties because they are windrowed and harvested at the conservative timings that suit conventional varieties.

If you’re growing hybrids, we suggest you try an equivalent PodGuard variety in at least a paddock or two. At harvest time, you can leave the PodGuard crop standing while you deal with higher-priority crops then come back to it when you’re ready. It can be windrowed as late as you like, but it makes even more sense to direct-head it and see the full advantage. You’ll be that $30–40 a hectare ahead before you even add up the tonnage.   

Once you see the potential for a future of simpler, faster harvesting, we think your days of windrowing will be numbered. Because the numbers in favour of a switch to direct-heading are very persuasive.