The Oregon Department of Agriculture has ended a tense period of decision on the use of canola in the specialty crop seed sensitive Willamette Valley near Portland.
A new administrative rule allows for some canola production while continuing to protect the sensitive specialty seed crop in the Willamette, ODA officials say. Under the rule, a majority of specialty seed production remains in a rapeseed exclusion zone in which canola planting will not be allowed.
"Following an extensive amount of public comments received, we have made modifications to what was proposed in order to give greater assurance that our specialty seed growers in the Willamette Valley are not harmed by canola production," states Katy Coba, ODA director.
"At the same time, we feel it's important to give some producers the opportunity to grow canola under the restrictions and safeguards put in place by this rule."
The latest administrative ruling sets the Willamette up as a protected district, which includes portions of Land, Linn, Benton, Marion, Polk, Clackamas, Yamhill, Washington, Multnomah and Columbia counties.
The protected district establishes two zones:
•One is a fully protected zone of more than 1.9 million acres that prohibits canola 100%. It is this area in which the highest concentration of specialty seed crops is produced.
•Another is a 1.7 million acre zone located outside of the exclusion area which allows canola production on a total of 2,500 acres.
Growers who want to plant canola in the allowed area must apply for a contact with ODA that contains specific requirements for managing the crop. The rule sets a minimum field size of 25 acres for canola.
ODA's new rule limits how much canola can be grown in the Willamette, where it can be produced, and requires significant management practices for the crop. '
The rule, announced in early February, took place immediately. ODA will award canola contracts by Sept. 1 for requests received by July 15.
For more information, go to www.oregobn.gov.ODA/Pages/canola.aspx.