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 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 and timing of weed control than in a monoculture or cereal-dominated rotation. This also decreases the chance of herbicide resistance.
Canola improves farm economics by increasing yield in cereal, soybean and other crops that follow canola. In addition, it has a steady market compared to other commodities like wheat and there is no need to purchase new equipment to grow canola.
Canola is good for soil health as its taproots can break up tillage and dense soil. Its 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 need for tillage, which improves 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.