What is in this article?:
- 250,000 acres of canola have been planted in Oklahoma; 40,000 acres have been planted in Kansas and 22,000 acres of canola have been planted in Texas.
- Prolonged drought is a concern.
- Acreage in northern U.S. and Canada is down.
PRODUCERS COOPERATIVE OIL MILL staff Gene Neuens, standing, and Heath Sanders discuss the effects of a prolonged drought on the 2013 Oklahoma winter canola crop. While the extended dry weather in the Southern Plains has farmers worried, an expanded acreage of canola planted in 2012, coupled with an effective crop insurance plan, has kept them optimistic about the crop's future.
"Some established farmers have gone to a one-to-one-year rotation with canola and wheat to take advantage of canola prices averaging $3 to $4 per bushel more than prices paid for wheat at the same grain terminals," Sanders said. "And the crop insurance provides a good cushion for new farmers growing the crop for the first time."
Sanders says canola is more of a hands-on crop than winter wheat. Rather than driving by the wheat field every few days or so to eyeball the crop's conditions, growing canola right requires that a farmer walk the field to check for soil moisture, crop color and even kneel down to look under the crop for the presence of pesky insects, he said.
"Professional agronomists like me and Extension specialists from OSU are only a phone call away to answer farmers' questions and check out problems in the field," he said.
One of the most important reasons for the growing popularity of canola production in the Southern Plains is that canola and wheat can be planted and harvested with the same equipment. The same grain drill used to plant wheat is used to plant canola and the same combine or harvester used to harvest wheat will harvest canola. "We know of several different ways to prepare canola for harvest, depending on weather," Sanders said. "But it isn't difficult to work out these questions at harvest."
Several times each year, Extension staff, along with seed company and processing plant personnel, sponsor winter canola production meetings in Kansas, Texas and Oklahoma. These meetings are well-publicized in the news media to alert farmers interested in learning more about the crop.
"If the weather lets us have a decent crop in 2013," Neuens said, "we believe there will be a demand for the crop and good prices paid for the seed. We know fewer acres of spring canola have been planted in Canada and the northern U.S. This, combined with an increasing demand for the seed for cooking oil, biofuels and livestock feed, should make growing the crop more attractive than ever before."
Neuens has observed winter canola grown in the Texas High Plains under center pivot irrigation in a few scattered areas, he said. "The results of this practice should be very interesting in yield potential," he said.
For information on growing contracts, prices and grain markets, contact Neuens at 405-232-7555. Sanders can be reached at the same number to give production information. OSU County Extension directors as well as farmers cooperatives have information on growing winter canola. Neuens' email is firstname.lastname@example.org. Sanders' email is email@example.com.