Winter canola, a little-known crop a decade ago, will be planted on 250,000 acres across the Southern Plains this fall, according to estimates from the Producers Cooperative Oil Mill in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma.
Preliminary planting reports by the USDA show nearly 20 percent of the canola acreage has been planted to date. To obtain crop insurance and to get the best stand possible, winter canola should be planted between September 10 and October 10 each fall, according to Gene Neuens, PCOM canola representative.
"More than 125,000 acres of canola were harvested in the Southern Plains this year," Neuens said. "We estimate 250,000 acres will be planted this fall to be harvested in spring, 2013.
"Recent rains in Kansas and northern Oklahoma have permitted farmers to plant canola. Although less rain has fallen in southern Oklahoma and north Texas, some farmers have started planting already."
Neuens reports a Haskell, Texas, farmer's canola is already up. In Kansas, Neuens expects 30, 000 to 35,000 acres of the crop will be planted, a significant increase.
Rains in northern Oklahoma gave farmers the green light to plant canola, he said. "A lot of that area has good surface moisture, but more rain is needed to allow the crop to extend its roots deeper into the soil."
Neuens reports more farmers are growing winter canola each year due to the educational programs conducted by Oklahoma State University agriculture specialists and agriculturists working for PCOM.
"Josh Bushong is the OSU Extension canola specialist. He and Heath Sanders, a former OSU Extension specialist who came to work for us at PCOM, work year-round with producers growing winter canola," he said.
Neuens said a lot of seed companies sold out their winter canola seed supplies this year. The harvested crop can be sold to local elevators, to PCOM and to Archer Daniels Midland, a company with a processing mill in Kansas.
Winter canola became a reality approximately eight years ago when Dr. Tom Peeper, an emeritus OSU weed scientist, began looking for a better method to control perennial weeds growing in winter wheat in the Southern Plains. Presence of the weed seeds, which were nearly impossible to control in continuously grown wheat, significantly dropped the price paid for the wheat.
Peeper found winter canola, originally a spring crop grown in Canada and the northern U.S., provided farmers with an effective weapon to reduce the presence of the weeds in the wheat.
Winter canola, unlike winter wheat, has a large taproot which helps the plant reach subsoil moisture. Completely different in plant and growing characteristics from wheat, canola is an effective option to help control weeds, Neuens said.
Prices paid for winter canola usually run more than $3 per bushel above prices paid for wheat.
For more information on canola production and growing contracts, contact Neuens at 405-232-7555 or firstname.lastname@example.org.