Planting of canola in the United States first began in 1988 after being introduced in Canada in 1974. The charts below show dramatic increases in U.S. acreage and yield since 1991, growing to roughly 2 million acres per year. Yet growth in production has not kept up with demand as the United States still imports 69 percent of its canola oil for domestic consumption.
In 2021, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Agricultural Statistics Service reported 2.1 million harvested acres of canola that yielded 2.3 billion pounds and averaged 1,119 pounds per acre. This was down from 2019 production, which was 3.4 billion pounds with a national yield of 1,781 pounds per acre.
The USCA urged the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Natural Resource Conservation Service to include a Conservation Security Program enhancement that encourages producers to include canola and/or sunflower crops in farm rotations to provide habitat for honeybees and other pollinators. This enhancement was implemented for the 2019 crop year.
While North Dakota currently grows the lion’s share of U.S. canola, states in the Pacific Northwest, Southern Great Plains and mid-South are increasing acreage. Not only does canola provide high-value canola oil and meal, it benefits other crops like wheat in rotation by breaking up pest and disease cycles as well as provides ideal habitat for pollinators.
In 2021, the Northern Plains (North Dakota and Minnesota) produced 86 percent of canola with 1.9 million acres planted. The Pacific Northwest (Montana, Idaho, Washington and Oregon) accounted for about 365,000 acres. States in the Southern Great Plains (Oklahoma, Kansas and Texas) and mid-South (Virginia, North and South Carolina, Georgia, Tennessee, Kentucky, Alabama, Missouri, Mississippi and Arkansas) accounted for most of the remainder of canola acreage.
While the Southern Great Plains had reached 400,000 planted canola acres in 2014, growers have been battling weather problems since that time. However, the region still holds promise for expanding canola acres. The mid-South is also expected to increase canola acreage as it supports the double cropping of soybeans or other spring-seeded crops, expanding the profitability and efficiency of farms. The Northern Plains and Pacific Northwest will likely further increase canola acreage as well.
Global canola/rapeseed production is estimated at 70 million tonnes with the majority (roughly 20 million acres annually) grown in Canada and a significant amount in Europe (about 97 percent of “rapeseed” grown there is canola quality). Thanks to agricultural technologies, yields of canola/rapeseed have improved dramatically around the world since 1961!