From proof of health benefits to reports on canola production in Canada, Australia and Brazil to ways to improve growing canola in various U.S. regions, the 5th National Canola Research Conference (NCRC) “planted” great facts and stats in Baltimore, Md., Nov. 5-6, 2018. It was held again in conjunction with the American Society of Agronomy (ASA) and Crop Science Society of America (CSSA) Annual Meetings. Here’s a round-up of some presentations:
In the last five years or so, the way canola is harvested has shifted dramatically. Canola has traditionally been cut with a swather and placed in a windrow to cure and dry down the seed. But today, with pod shatter-resistant varieties and overall varietal improvement in shatter tolerance, straight-cutting canola is more popular than ever.
The 20th Annual Canola Expo of the National Canola Growers Association will be Tuesday, Dec. 5 in Langdon. It will feature one of the most engaging and powerful agricultural speakers in the country, Bruce Vincent, along with leading canola agronomists. Vincent is a compelling “tell-it-like-is” motivational speaker who has appeared on news shows such as “60 Minutes” and traveled the world speaking on agricultural issues. His keynote speech is entitled “With Vision, There is Hope.” Other presentations at the Canola Expo will address clubroot and other canola diseases, planting rates and cooking with canola oil. Grower will receive a free lunch and the opportunity to win door prizes.
The National Biodiesel Board (NBB) elected former U.S. Canola Association (USCA) President Ryan Pederson last week to its governing board. Also, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released on Nov. 30 the required volume obligations (RVOs) under the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) for 2018-19: 2.1 billion gallons of biomass-based diesel for 2019, which is level with 2018 volume requirements and less than the 2.5 billion gallons the NBB and USCA were seeking. The NBB expressed disappointment with the flatline RFS volumes and missed opportunity to promote growth in biodiesel production. The USCA will continue to support the biodiesel industry’s efforts under the Trump administration, including pushing to have the biodiesel tax credit reinstated and included in a year-end tax extenders package, separate from the comprehensive tax reform bill.
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During the early 1990s, farmers in Oklahoma, Kansas and four other southern Great Plains states planted more than 32 million acres of wheat annually. Much of it was produced practicing little or no rotation, and with mounting problems due to deliberate monocropping.
A group of university researchers representing these states recognized the dire need for crop diversification and the development of alternative crops. They identified the soft-seeded (minor) oilseeds as promising for the region and zeroed in on canola, which promised the benefit of breaking disease and other pest cycles in wheat. The group formed the Great Plains Canola Council (GPCC) in 1990.
Don’t look now, but more yellow flowers may be popping up across Kansas, and they are not of the sunflower variety, which is the official state flower.
Based on the number of phone calls and emails I received this summer, I fully expect winter canola acres to rebound substantially for the 2017 crop year. Many producers said the price of wheat led them to their decision to plant canola, but I quickly reminded them that there are many benefits to rotating to canola including greater wheat yields, better weed control options and growing consumer demand for the oil.
As a grain trader would profess, efficient and effective trade is based on the principal of fungibility, allowing for the substitution of grain from source to source as market conditions dictate. Since the introduction of biotech crops, growers and traders have both benefitted from increases in yield and overall productivity, however, the patchwork map of regulatory systems for biotech crops has created significant hurdles in maintaining this fungibility.
The 2016 canola harvest has all but wrapped up in Oregon’s Willamette Valley and it was another good year – fields averaged 3,000 pounds per acre and one grower exceeded 5,000 pounds per acre. But more importantly, it was another year of successful rotational crops for Willamette Valley farmers.
Interest in canola as a rotation crop in the cereal-dominated cropping systems of the Pacific Northwest continues to increase, particularly with depressed wheat prices, and with steady demand from the Pacific Coast Canola processing facility in Warden, Wash. The Crucifer Quarantine enacted last fall, however, has prompted many questions and requests for advice about blackleg from growers and industry. In response to concerns, faculty at the Washington State University-based Washington Oilseed Cropping Systems Project developed a handout to distribute at field tours. The guide includes concise information about the current status of blackleg in Washington, the Crucifer Quarantine requirements, scouting for blackleg, and photos of blackleg symptoms from fields in Idaho and Oregon.
Over the last several thousand years, humans have taken a more active role in the evolution of plants by specifically saving and selecting seed from plants that looked, smelled or tasted particularly interesting. The result was the domestication of plants, making it easier to grow and harvest them and become better, more reliable and nutritious sources of food. This same process continues today, though in a more formalized way, using the science and art of plant breeding.