STILLWATER — Winter canola not only catches the eyes of drivers passing the bright yellow fields, it has caught the attention of some Oklahoma agricultural producers.
Josh Bushong, the Oklahoma Cooperative Extension Service winter canola extension specialist, said it is estimated that about 275,000 acres of winter canola were planted in the southern Great Plains states.
“It's been on a pretty steep incline,” Bushong said.
Bushong explained that farmers harvest the seed and then the canola crushers will crush that seed for its oil. And he added that the local markets have and are expected to continue to increase.
The canola in this area is primarily used for cooking oil.
“We started the Okanola project at OSU here back in 2003-2004 to promote canola in Oklahoma,” he said. “Basically we started in order to try to give wheat farmers an option to rotate with.”
Bushong said this is a winter crop that grows the same time as winter wheat does. Why rotate? He said that there are wheat fields that have “grassy weeds” in them and some of the weeds have started showing resistance to some herbicides.
Those weeds could lead to dockage, a discount, for producers.
Bushong said, “Utilizing canola as a weed management tool has been one of the main reasons wheat producers have adopted the crop.”
Roger Gribble, a longtime OSU northwest area extension agronomy specialist, said research at Lahoma, west of Enid, has shown the most profitable crop rotation is wheat and canola.
“And a lot of it goes to the weather factors that we have faced here in the last three years,” Gribble said. “We've got some moisture in the fall, winter and spring but we haven't got it in the summer. So as a result, in crop rotation, the winter crops are currently leading the pack.”