You went to the expense of growing it, now save it

BRANDON — With canola prices sinking down close to the break-even point, growers will concentrate on putting every seed in the combine hopper come August, meaning no tolerance for throw-overs.

Here’s an example. If you combine 1,500 acres of canola and lose one bushel per acre at $10 per bushel, your financial loss is $15,000. Basically, every single bushel you save on 1,500 acres puts $15,000 in your pocket.

While much of the seed is lost within the combine itself, a significant portion is lost at the header. When the lightweight seed is travelling at a high velocity, some of it is thrown over the header.

Canola catchers are designed to block that seed and send it back into the header so it gets into the feeder house. They vary in complexity from a couple of screen doors mounted on the header up to high-tech devices such as the Houston Seed Saver, manufactured in Olds, Alta. Seed Saver chief executive officer Eric Paulsen attended the recent Combine College to explain the benefits of the device.

“When you’re combining canola with a pick-up header, you see canola seeds flying everywhere, especially at nights with the headlights,” said Paulsen.

“The ensuing volunteer canola next year can be as much of a financial hit as the lost seed this year. Plus there’s a buildup of residue in the feeder housing and on the windshield.”

Paulsen said the Seed Saver is a clear margard panel 32 inches front-to-back and eight feet wide in the two-panel version. The three-panel version is 12 feet wide. The margard is mounted in an aluminum frame that has 90 degrees of adjustment. It mounts right above the auger.

“It prevents any seed or residue from going over the top of the header. And because it’s a solid plastic instead of a screen, it creates a vortex or a vacuum that sucks the seed into the feeder house.

“The design reaches the margard way out over the auger. The fully adjustable angle is meant to match the position of the windscreen fingers to create a vacuum effect drawing material into the feeder house.

“We were shooting some video last fall from a pickup driving right alongside. When the sunlight was behind, you can easily see the air swirling and the seeds getting sucked into the combine. Plus it gives you better visibility.”

The three-panel unit will go most of the width of a pick-up header. Paulsen measured a five percent increase in the amount of seeds they picked up when running all three panels. The two-panel unit lists for $1,299 and the three-panel unit lists for $1,949.

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