Sometimes farmers need options.

When hail wipes out a cotton crop or rain falls too late to plant grain, or when pests build up to near uncontrollable levels in a monoculture, it’s good to have a plan B.

“Alternate crop options help farmers spread risks,” says Texas AgriLife small grains specialist Robert Duncan.

Duncan discussed the pros and cons of several alternative crops at the recent Texas Plant Protection Association annual meeting in College Station.

Canola may offer the best potential.

“We have one of the best developed markets for canola,” Duncan said. “Farmers in Texas, Oklahoma and Kansas are already growing about 135,000 acres of canola.”

“Average yields also look respectable.” In College Station trials the mean yield was 1,118 pounds per acre with a maximum yield of 2500 pounds. Average oil content was 36 percent.

“It takes about 1200 pounds of canola per acre to break even,” he said.