Winter Canola Labeled 'Good Choice' for Montana Producers

100-bushel-per-acre potential for oil crop which should be planted by Sept. 7.

Published on: Aug 25, 2008

There's potential Montana growers could get up to 100 bushels per acre on canola, one factor figuring high in a Montana State University recommendation the winter crop be planted.

While the crop remains an experimental option in the state, MSU land resources and environmental sciences assistant professor Perry Miller says it could be a good fit in areas where winter wheat survival is good, and fall irrigation is an option.

In fact, successful winter canola can be "enormously profitable, adds Miller. That's due partly to the fact the crop may be used as a food oil crop with high-quality meal for livestock, or it can be diverted into biodiesel production.

Miller says he observed a half dozen farmers test the crop at MSU's Post Research Farm, learning new ways to advise producers to successfully profit from production.

The most important factor, he believes, is getting plants to reach a crucial stage of growth and hardiness to survive the winter. Seeds need to be planted early, he discovered, and at a high rate, then irrigated to ensure vigorous growth. Seed time fertilizer is urged.

Miller says sowing winter canola should be completed by Sept. 7, and irrigating at seeding used to give the plants a chance to survive the winter.

He recommends putting on most or all of the fertilizer at seeding to give plants a boost in accumulating as much growth as they can by winter. That's contrary to information from Kansas research which recommended little fertilizer use at seeding. That idea doesn't work in Montana, Miller reports.

Monsanto offers two new varieties which may be of interest to Montana growers. The selections, DKW 1369 and DKW 41-10, may be more suitable to Montana's winters than what Monsanto had available in 2006, he believes.

These new varieties are also Roundup-Ready, which Miller views as a "critical feature in winter canola at this time so that weeds can be managed simply and effectively in a patchy stand."