The Oklahoma Oilseed Commission will sponsor nearly $65,000 worth of new canola research and demonstrations through Oklahoma State University’s Division of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources.

Brent Rendel, commission chairman and an oilseed crop producer from Miami, Okla., said the projects will cover a range of production issues, including soil fertility, insect and disease control and variety performance.

“Our goal is to provide practical results that producers can observe firsthand,” he said. “Since this is such a new industry in the state, we want to do all we can to help producers get off to a good start.”

The research will be conducted at Oklahoma Agricultural Experiment Station facilities and in grower fields across the state.

“Grower-provided funding helps leverage state and federal funds for research,” said Dave Porter, head of OSU’s department of plant and soil sciences. “With ever-tightening state and federal budgets, support dollars from groups such as OOC are critically important to research efforts that develop the advances in crops and best management practices necessary for producers to prosper in a business climate that allows for little or no margin of error.”

The OOC was created in 2010 to benefit the canola and sunflower industries of Oklahoma. It is funded solely through an assessment on producer sales. OOC Treasurer-Secretary Alan Mindemann said the commission is committed to keeping its check-off program “effective, efficient and farmer-driven.”

“When we evaluate project proposals, we focus on how the research is likely to benefit the bottom line for oilseed producers,” he said. “We want to be as certain as possible that we are investing growers’ check-off dollars in research that addresses high-priority, production-related challenges.”

Given the rapid growth of canola as one of Oklahoma’s most in-demand and viable crops, the commission is focusing only on canola research at this time. In 2009, Oklahoma producers planted 40,000 acres of canola. That number increased to 150,000 acres in the fall of 2011, with significantly more acres expected this year by the time the final tally is counted.

“It’s now fairly common for canola growers to harvest 2,000 pounds per acre, and not uncommon to harvest 3,000 pounds per acre or more,” Porter said. “Add in that the price of canola last spring was twice the price of wheat and the need for OSU scientists to engage in and Oklahoma’s agricultural community to invest in canola-related research is easily understandable.”

The system in place is straightforward: The commission is comprised of five farmer members who administer oilseed check-off funds to support research, promotional and educational programs. The OOC members work in a cooperating partnership with DASNR faculty and staff to determine the most critically needed areas of scientific inquiry. Together, priorities are identified, goals are set and research projects are designed and implemented.

“We fully expect canola acres to increase in Oklahoma,” Rendel said. “We recognize that future yield increases in canola and overall variety improvements will be driven by research, in much the same way that OSU research has driven advances in wheat varieties used by Oklahoma producers over the years. Three of the top four wheat varieties planted in Oklahoma were developed by DASNR scientists. This bodes well for future canola improvement efforts.”

Anyone interested in additional information about Oklahoma Oilseed Commission programs should contact Ron Sholar at 405-780-0113.