While it’s not going to rival the millions of acres grown in Canada, winter canola is getting a try in Texas and Oklahoma.
Indeed, the oilseed crop’s very name stands for Canada oil.
Nevertheless, Mark Boyles, Oklahoma State University canola specialist, Stillwater, says some 85,000 acres of canola is now grown in Oklahoma, northern Texas and southern Kansas. Not bad, since it was only introduced to Oklahoma in 2005.
Boyles says winter canola grows during the same season as winter wheat. He notes canola fits as a good rotation with wheat in North Texas and Oklahoma.
“There’s a tremendous need for high-quality canola oil right now,” Boyles says. “The U.S. has to import a big amount of canola right now to meet high-quality oil demand.”
• Oklahoma and Texas farmers are giving winter canola a try.
• Canola grows during the same crop season as winter wheat.
• PCOM in Oklahoma City is actively seeking quality canola.
In 2008, Producers Cooperative Oil Mill in Oklahoma City installed additional equipment that now enables PCOM to process canola into meal and oil there.
PCOM has processed cottonseed oil since 1944. Today, the oil mill is capable of processing more than 200,000 tons of cottonseed per year, with storage capacity for about 128,000 tons of whole cottonseed.
Yet, PCOM still needs canola at the Oklahoma facility to produce the high-quality canola oil, notes Gene Neuens, PCOM canola field representative.
Neuens says each ton of processed canola contains about 1,080 pounds of meal, which is 36% protein and widely used in livestock rations.
High on list of healthy oils
Canola oil is recognized as one of the healthiest oils for cooking and frying. It contains zero trans-fats and only 7% saturated fats.
Neuens says about 840 pounds of canola oil are produced from each ton of seed processed.
For 2010, Hardeman Seed and Grain in Chillicothe, Texas, has been receiving canola from a few growers in Texas giving canola a try.
The canola can then move from Chillicothe by either rail or truck to PCOM in Oklahoma City.
Canola is tied to the oilseed market, and this spring was fetching $7.50 per bushel.
Heath Sanders, OSU Extension assistant for winter canola, Enid, Okla., says winter wheat following canola in a crop rotation can produce a better yield. He says some farmers have reported as much as 15% to 25% greater wheat yields.
All of the canola being grown in the Chillicothe region for 2010 harvest belonged to Russell and John Young.
Russell Young advises other farmers considering canola to carefully consider what’s involved. Although it’s generally the same growing season as winter wheat, some areas might require that winter canola be planted by August to qualify for crop insurance.
“So it’s real important to know the deadline for planting,” Russell Young cautions.
Young also notes it is important to know how you plan to harvest the canola.
Neuens agrees. He says there are three basic methods:
• swathing the canola (then picking it up to get it out of the field)
• pushing it down (but not to the ground) and then coming back from opposite direction to harvest
• using straight mechanical harvest
For 2010, Russell Young says he decided to push some and also use straight mechanical harvest on other canola. He plans to learn from that for future years.
Obviously, some growers want to know if they can graze winter canola. Yes, cattle love it. But it will hammer harvest yields significantly later.
“You can graze canola, but that will really knock down the yield because the canola grows from the stem,” OSU’s Boyles emphasizes. “In one case, grazing knocked down yield from 2,400 pounds to about 1,200.”
Neuens says canola requires about 2½ pounds of nitrogen for every bushel, compared with 2 pounds N per bushel of wheat produced.
“So it does take slightly more N than wheat,” Neuens says.
Boyles adds that canola definitely needs a firm seedbed when planted.
Clean up weeds
Neuens notes 12 varieties of Roundup Ready canola are available on the market, and that a canola rotation with wheat is an excellent way to clean up weed problems.
Jerry Mitchell, a Frederick, Okla., canola grower, had about 180 acres of canola for the 2010 harvest, and says he especially likes the fact he can clean up some pesky weeds.
Aaron Henson, Tillman County, Okla., Extension office director, expects more Oklahoma farmers will be trying winter canola.
Steven Sparkman, Hardeman County AgriLife Extension agent, Quanah, Texas, says while canola is new to the area, it certainly has created a lot of interest among farmers there for having another winter-grown cash crop.
They need a rotational crop — and PCOM needs the oil.
canola clan: Robert Duncan (left), Texas AgriLife Extension Service state small-grains and oilseed specialist, College Station; Mark Boyles, Oklahoma State University canola specialist, Stillwater; Heath Sanders, OSU Extension assistant for winter canola, Enid, Okla.; and Todd Baughman, Texas AgriLife Extension agronomist, Vernon, share their combined canola knowledge on the 2010 Hardeman County Crops Tour at a canola field on the Young Farm at Chillicothe, Texas. Both OSU and Texas A&M are combining muscle to help growers in northern Texas and southern Oklahoma attempting canola.