"Good prices paid at the grain terminal, the ability to add another cash crop to their production schedule and a really good crop insurance program have all convinced more farmers to try the crop," he said. "This is the reason I said Josh and Heath have been burning up the roads this year. While winter canola, and this is another reason for its popularity, can be planted and harvested with the same equipment as wheat, that is, the same grain drills for planting and combines for harvesting, we have found winter canola demands closer management than winter wheat."

Neuens explained establishing seed beds before planting and becoming adept at harvesting the crop, depending on the weather, requires farmers to refine their farming methods. "Growing the crop isn't difficult," he said. "But it is a different crop than wheat and we are still tweaking seedbed preparation and how to best harvest the crop."

Farmers have learned winter canola can be swathed and then harvested with a combine or directly harvested with the same harvester.

While many farmers grew a quarter section of the crop last year to get started, many this fall, Neuens has learned, increased acreage to two or more quarter sections. To begin with, Neuens said, OSU and Kansas State University Extension agronomists led farmers to plant winter canola in a rotation of one year to plant canola and then three years of wheat on the same fields.

"Today, a lot of the larger farmers have started planting canola in a 50-50 rotation with wheat," he said. "That is, planting canola every other year on the same field. Good prices and better weed eradication have allowed them to do this, along with the crop insurance approved by the USDA Risk Management Agency."

Popularity in growing the new crop has had led to other changes as well. Neuens points out farmers who have started growing the crop have been buying more equipment, such as drills, spray rigs, swathers and harvesters. Country grain elevators that normally handle winter wheat for sale and storage along with one other crop like corn, grain sorghum or soybeans, are dealing with the increasing popularity of winter canola.

"More country elevators have decided to receive canola as well as the more familiar crops," he said. "It is a growing experience for all of us."

More information about planting winter canola, growing the crop, crop insurance and growing contracts for farmers can be obtained by contacting Neuens at 405-232-7555. His email address is cscneuens@yahoo.com.