Finally, Alan Mindemann, Apache, Okla., is doing something that gives him a lot of satisfaction.

He’s busy harvesting a good-yielding crop of winter canola. He’s particularly satisfied because the winter wheat crop has been a failure. Months of severe drought, late-spring freezes and hail storms combined to make the 2008-09 Southern Plains winter wheat crop the smallest since 1955.

"Unlike wheat, canola has a large taproot that grows deep into the soil to find moisture," Mindemann said. "Canola started out growing in cold climates. The freeze cut back its growth, but it just started regrowth with more branches and seedpods. This 130 acre field will yield 1,000 to 1,200 pounds per acre of seed. My 790 acres of canola probably will average 800 to 900 pounds per acre this year."

Mindemann said his field of canola northwest of Apache is surrounded by fields filled with failed wheat.

"This has been a long, trying year," Mindemann said. "We planted the canola early in September and we didn't have enough moisture then. Wheat really struggled with the dry weather all winter. Canola's large taproot helped the crop find moisture deep in the soil, farther down than wheat could.

"Although the late spring freezes slowed down the canola's maturity, about the only real damage was making harvest later. The freeze actually made the canola plants thicker by growing more lateral branches and seed pods."

Mindemann did harvest some wheat this year. It was a field of seed wheat, he said, which brought $10 per bushel. His 790 acres of winter canola was contracted to the Producers Cooperative Oil Mill, Oklahoma City, Okla., for crushing at $13 per hundred pounds.

Another winter canola producer, Jerry Hedges, Vici, Okla., planted 65 acres of the crop to be grown for seed for Monsanto/DeKalb.

"We just finished harvesting the canola," Hedges said. "It yielded around 96,000 to 97,000 pounds of seed for the 65 acres, approximately 30 bushels per acre.

"To get ready for harvest, we used a pusher, a bar attached to the front of a tractor that is the same length and height above the ground as the header on a combine. The plants are pushed over to lay parallel to the ground with several inches of space between the plants and the ground. This allows the seed pods to dry out without shattering and dropping the seeds on the ground.

"We let the crop field dry for three and a half weeks then used a combine to thresh the grain."

On June 29, 2009, canola daily cash price was $0.163 cents per pound or $8.15 per bushel. Canola 2009 new crop was $0.163 cents per pound or $8.15 per bushel. Canola 2010 price is $0.152 cents per pound or $7.60 per pound.

Kansas City wheat close July 2009 was $5.39 per bushel and KC wheat close July 2010 was $5.34 per bushel. That is estimated producer price at elevator on wheat.

Information on grower contracts and other marketing information about winter canola may be obtained from Gene Neuens or Brandon Winters at the Producers Cooperative Oil Mill at 1-405-232-7555.