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New Crops News, Spring 1991, Vol. 1 No. 1
Canola: A Potential New Crop For Indiana
What is canola?
Canola is a type of rapeseed that has been developed to
contain less than 2% erucic acid in the oil and less than 30 ppm glucosinolates
in the meal. 'Canola' is the coined name selected to identify those rapeseed
cultivars which are genetically low in both erucic acid and glucosinolates.
Canola is a cool-season, annual oilseed crop. It is a member of the mustard
family and, in the rosette form in the fall, looks very similar to young
broccoli, mustard, turnip, or cabbage. In the spring the plant bolts, reaching
a height of 3 to 5 feet and produces bright yellow flowers. The plant matures
in mid to late June in southern Indiana and early to mid July in northern
Indiana. The small, spherical, dark-colored seed weighs 50 pounds per bushel.
The seed contains 40% oil and a residual animal feed meal containing 37-38%
What are the uses for canola?
In the fall of 1988 the FDA permitted the
name canola or canola oil to be used as the generic name for low erucic acid
rapeseed oil. This development resulted in a significant increase in the
importation of canola oil. Canola oil is a high quality vegetable oil used as
both a cooking oil and a salad oil. The increasing demand for canola oil is
caused in part by a health-conscious consumer trying to avoid high levels of
cholesterol and saturated fatty acids. Like all vegetable oils, canola oil
contains no cholesterol. The level of saturated fatty acids in canola oil is
the lowest of all vegetable oils (6%). Therefore, the level of unsaturated
fatty acids is the highest of all vegetable oils with a large part consisting
of monounsaturated fatty acids (58%).
Is canola adapted to Indiana conditions?
indicate that canola can be successfully grown in Indiana. These
investigations have shown that some precautions and care must be taken to
permit success with the crop. Selection of the site or field on which to
produce canola is very critical. Canola is best adapted to well-drained soils.
It usually performs well on soils suited for wheat production. Canola does not
tolerate water-logged soil conditions, or soils with standing water, during the
fall and winter months. Stands of canola have been virtually destroyed as the
result of wet winter soils in Indiana.
Planting date is also critical to successful production of the crop. The
optimum planting dates in Indiana are from August 20 in the north to September
15 in the south. Planting later than the suggested dates can result in
decreased winter survival, as well as reduced yields. Planting earlier than
the suggested date can also result in decreased winter survival, particularly
if bud formation and stem elongation occur in the fall prior to the onset of
Proper planting depth is important to assure good stand establishment. A
uniform 3/8- to 1/2-inch planting depth is ideal for canola. Any grain drill
with good depth control and a grass or alfalfa seed attachment that will give a
precise seeding rate is suitable for planting canola.
Is specialized equipment required to grow canola?
In most cases,
any farm equipped to grow wheat is properly equipped to produce canola. As
mentioned above, grain drills and cultipacker seeders that will give a precise
seeding depth and rate are well suited for canola. Conventional combines are
utilized to harvest canola. The combine must be properly adjusted to prevent
Are there established markets for canola?
Canola can be sold through a
limited number of elevators in Indiana. Prior to planting canola, a producer
should determine the location of the nearest delivery point so that
transportation costs are known in advance. Direct delivery to the processor
would be an alternative to selling the crop locally, particularly if it must be
trucked some distance. Currently, Indianas production is shipped either
to Chattanooga, Tennessee, or Windsor, Ontario, Canada.
Prices received for canola are based on the Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada market,
less shipping costs, grain elevator handling fees, and the conversion rates of
the Canadian dollar to the U.S. dollar. Since canola is 40% oil, its price
will depend to a great extent on the market price for other vegetable oils and,
therefore, will tend to rise and fall with the soybean oil market. In addition
to these, the final price paid to the producer may be reduced as a result of
discounts for damaged seed, foreign material, garlic, green seed, and
What is the future for canola in Indiana?
The limited information
available indicates that canola can be successfully grown in Indiana. However,
Indiana has not experienced severe winter weather the past three years. Until
we experience a severe winter, we will not have a true measure of winter
hardiness. At this point in time, it appears that canola has the best chance
of success of any new crop attempted in the past 25 years. In some years and
on some farms, available land on which to plant canola may not be available.
However, with proper planning, this problem can be eliminated. The advantages
of canola production include the spreading of some risks by having a crop that
is planted and harvested at a time different than corn and soybeans.
Additionally, canola seeding is done at a time when it does not compete with
most other crops, it introduces a different crop into the system permitting
better crop rotations, and provides a crop to sell in early summer to help cash
Canola and the 1990 farm bill.
The 1990 farm bill provides for the
production of certain minor oilseed crops on land enrolled in the 0/92 program.
Canola is one of the minor oilseed crops listed in this section of the farm
bill. This section permits the production of canola on the allowed wheat,
corn, or other feed grain base acres of a farm while collecting 92% of the
deficiency payment. The option is very attractive on wheat base acres in the
northern portion of Indiana where soybeans cannot be double cropped.
The acreage planted to canola in the fall of 1990 is not accurately known,
however, it has been estimated at about 7,500 acres or about one and one-half
times the acreage planted last year. The continued strong demand for canola
oil and the 0/92-minor oilseed provision of the 1990 farm bill could result in
a significant increase in acres planted in the fall of 1991.
If you are interested in additional information related to canola production,
you should contact your local County Extension Office and request a copy of
AY-272, Canola - An Alternative Crop in Indiana.
Department of Agronomy
West Lafayette, IN 47907-1165
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