In the Southern Plains, farmers are encouraged to plant winter canola in a "planting window" of Sept. 10 trough Oct. 10. There is a reason for these dates, Godsey said, and a good practice to follow is to plant early in that window to ensure a good stand.

Recent research conducted by Godsey and other OSU agronomists indicate planting winter canola can be a problem in fields where no-till has been practiced for less than three years. "It takes time for fields to adjust to no plowing," he said. "Fields where no-till has been practiced for more than three years have better soil structure and lower soil bulk densities to promote better plant root growth. Fields with compacted soil have high "bulk density," he said. It can take several years for soil to develop better soil structure after no-till farming begins.

Growing winter canola can be profitable for farmers in the Southern Plains, but it is a crop that demands more care than winter wheat. Farmers need to be aware of the needs of winter canola in order to successfully grow it as an individual crop along with the benefits derived when it is grown in rotation with winter wheat.

Information presented at the canola conference by OSU agricultural economist Rodney Jones shows canola stands on its own as a money crop.

Jones shared a Roundup Ready canola budget showing a net return per acre of $308.08 for canola. This includes net returns to land, fixed costs, labor and management. In contrast, a grain-only wheat budget of continuous wheat had a net return to land, fixed costs, labor and management of $99.29 per acre. Growing wheat in a wheat-wheat-canola rotation yielded a per acre return of $121.42 per acre.

Winter canola has been grown successfully in the Southern Plains for nearly a decade. It was developed from spring canola varieties grown in Canada and in the northern United States to combat perennial weed infestation in continuously grown winter wheat. With different plant characteristics and producing highly-sought canola oil for cooking oil and biofuel production, the crop's acreage has nearly doubled each year since its inception. Price per bushel paid for canola at harvest has exceeded prices paid for wheat by $3 to $4 per bushel.


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