Winter canola may play an important role in cleaning up weeds and increasing yields for Texas wheat farmers.

As a rotation crop, canola also offers an attractive value, as much as $2 per bushel more at market than wheat, says Texas AgriLife Research and Extension agronomists.

Dr. Paul DeLaune, AgriLife Research soil agronomist at Vernon, and Dr. Clark Neely, AgriLife Extension state small grains and oilseed specialist in College Station, discussed winter canola pros and cons at a recent field day near Chillicothe.

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“Canola is a higher maintenance crop but also a higher value crop, as much as $2 per bushel higher than wheat, and if you use it as a rotational crop, you can get a higher yield out of your wheat the following years,” DeLaune said.

Canola variety trials have been conducted through the AgriLife Research station at Chillicothe since 2004, consisting of as many as 90 varieties, both experimental and commercial lines.

“Winter canola has received a lot of interest lately,” DeLaune said. “We’ve seen increased acreage in the Rolling Plains and Oklahoma. We are up to about 40,000 acres in Texas, with the majority of acreage within a three-county area of the Rolling Plains.”

He said the U.S. Canola Association has a goal to increase acreage from the current 400,000 acres to 1.5 million acres by 2018 in the Southern Great Plains, which would include Oklahoma, Kansas, Texas and Colorado.

“Canola is a good rotational crop with wheat,” DeLaune said. “That’s something wheat farmers have struggled with for years, finding rotational crops.”

Neely said canola tends to be a higher maintenance crop. Read more about winter canola.