Oklahoma has approximately 350,000 acres of winter canola this season; Kansas has 40,000 acres and Texas is close behind with 35,000 acres, Gene Neuens, Producers Cooperative Oil Mill oilseed representative, said.

"We probably would have had several thousand more acres if the U.S. government hadn't shut down in October," he said. "Farmers intending to plant more canola acres in places such as Texas decided not to plant after they were uncertain their crop insurance wouldn't be available."

Neuens said he knew of 10,000 acres in Texas going unplanted because crop insurance was unavailable at planting time. Both for optimal planting to establish a crop and for crop insurance purposes, winter canola should be planted between September 10 and October 10, he said.

Neuens, as well as Dr. Mark Gregory, Oklahoma State University Extension area agronomist at Duncan, gave presentations on winter canola production at a farmer meeting recently at Altus.

Gregory said it was his experience canola does as well as winter wheat in dry weather conditions and does a better job than wheat rejecting late freeze problems.

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Warm fall weather and good soil moisture conditions allowed farmers to get a good start on the 2014 winter canola crop, Great Plains Canola Association agronomist Heath Sanders said.

Sanders said most canola fields have “burned down” since freezing temperatures have occurred.

"'This canola is in a dormant or hibernating period like winter wheat," he said. "It has really melted down and is just setting there, waiting on the warmer temperatures and longer growing days in the spring. It looks pretty rough, but if you go out there and brush away those leaves you'll see those growth points, the crowns, are still alive."

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One difference from last year's crop is a healthy stand, he said.

"We have a lot better stands," he said, "especially in northern Oklahoma. I've seen bigger canola plants, more robust canola plants. A lot of this canola was in really good shape, good size before the cold snap. There is a lot of good looking winter canola out here this year. A lot of guys are pretty happy with their stands."

Sanders favorable prospects should encourage producers to manage the crop carefully to head off potential pest problems before they get out of control.

"It is always good to see what is going on with the plants," he said. "Turn over the leaves and see if you are starting to see some aphids creep in. But, generally, this time of year, everything is tucked away, waiting for the plants to green up in the spring.

"That is when we will see some insect pressure, but it is always good to check your crop."

Sanders said producers should be applying nitrogen fertilizer. Also if come on in the spring, Sanders recommends waiting until temperatures hold at 50 or 55 degrees for a couple of days before spraying Roundup for best weed control.

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