Demand for canola far outpaces U.S. supply (only 31%) so there is always a strong market for the crop. U.S. canola oil consumption more than quadrupled from 2003 to 2019 – from 4.5 to 17.2 lbs. per capita – due to its heart-healthy attributes. In 2006, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration authorized a qualified health claim on canola oil’s ability to reduce the risk of heart disease due to its high unsaturated fat content.
Canola improves farm economics by increasing yield in cereal, soybean and other crops that follow canola. In addition, its commodity price is tied to the oilseed market and there is no need to purchase new equipment to grow canola.
Canola is an excellent rotational crop, breaking up pest and disease cycles in cereal-dominated cropping systems. As a broadleaf crop, canola introduces diversity and provides an opportunity to use different herbicides.
Canola allows for improved weed management with different chemistries than what is used in a monoculture or cereal-dominated rotation. This also decreases the chance of herbicide resistance.
Canola is good for soil health as its taproots can break up dense soil. Its deep root system can take up nutrients not accessible to wheat roots and increases water infiltration. The taproot opens up more channels for water to move down, reducing the chance of erosion and improving soil structure for subsequent crops. Moreover, herbicide-resistant canola omits the need for tillage, which improves overall soil conditions.
Canola is an ideal habitat and food source for honeybees and other pollinators. That’s because canola flowers produce high amounts of nectar, which has a good sugar profile for honey production, and its plentiful pollen offers a nutritional balance of amino acids and fats. Long-blooming, bountiful canola flowers allow pollinators to feed efficiently within reasonable distances for up to a month.
Canola oil is a healthy and versatile cooking oil. It has the least saturated fat and most omega-3 fat of all cooking oils, making it one of the healthiest cooking oils in the world. Combined with its light texture, neutral taste and high heat tolerance, canola oil can be used in a wide variety of culinary applications and cuisines.
Canola meal offers high-quality plant protein for livestock, poultry, fish and now even people. Studies show that canola in dairy cow rations increase milk production by as much as 1 liter per cow per day.
Canola oil is a source of renewable energy as a feedstock for biodiesel, renewable diesel and jet biofuel. Canola oil-based renewable fuels reduce greenhouse gas emissions by over 50 percent compared to conventional fuels, providing significant air quality improvements. Also, what’s good for the heart is good for the engine; low saturated fat canola oil makes renewable fuel with excellent cold flow properties.
We grow canola for its rotational and soil conditioning benefits. Also, canola plants can take up any unused inputs that might remain in the soil.
– Deb Fortner, Washington
On my grass seed farm, rotational crops like canola help clean my fields to maintain purity. Only a few broadleaf crops can accomplish this and canola is the best.