Canola Quick Bytes

A supplement to U.S. Canola Digest

Capitol Hill

The country’s longest government shutdown came to a sputtering close on Jan. 25, costing the U.S. economy an estimated $6 billion and a wave of anxiety among Americans from TSA agents to national park workers to, yes, canola producers. Lawmakers agreed to reopen the government for three weeks but it’s plausible to see another shutdown soon. U.S. Canola Association (USCA) Assistant Director Dale Thorenson summarized the situation: “Most of us who farm – or in my case, used to farm – relish the stoic, get-it-done, pull yourself up by your bootstraps image that comes to mind when one thinks of a farmer. As a result, most are reluctant to acknowledge that we are joined at the hip to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. But absence does make the heart grow fonder. And the government shutdown that dragged on for 35 days highlighted just how tied to the USDA producers really are, be it through low-interest operating loans, crop reports, price support and conservation programs, trade promotion, research, etc. If irreparable harm to many programs and individuals has not already occurred, the breaking point was certainly close. Mother Nature does not wait for the whims of political compromise. Agronomists must be ready to go to the field, barn, orchard, etc. at the proper time or an entire year is put a risk. Our food supply, as abundant as it seems, is more precarious than most realize. Food does not materialize out of thin air and appear on the grocery shelf. (Well actually, it does – through photosynthesis.) Let’s hope this is the last time this insanity occurs. As a nation, we are better than this.”


China approved five new genetically modified crops in January, signaling a potential jump in American-grown grains this year, Reuters reported. It’s a positive step because China is notoriously slow at approving biotech crops; the last approval was in July 2017. The move was seen as a act of political goodwill after leaders of the two countries agreed to a 90-day truce on their trade war. “The industry expects growers will produce $400 million more canola every year using the same amount of land – a step-change for canola productivity,” said Canola Council of Canada President Jim Everson.

Are you curious about the use of growth-promoting biologicals in canola production? This month in the USCA blog, Jim Johnson, president of Star Specialty Seed, breaks down everything you need to know about these “plant probiotics” and how they can help your crop.


It’s estimated that 72 percent of Americans consider coconut oil a healthy food, so nutrition experts have been working overtime to educate the public on the dangers of consuming too much and the general unhealthiness of the oil. For example, a single serving of coconut oil contains most of the saturated fat the American Heart Association recommends someone consumes in a day. “Why things like coconut oil somehow slipped under the radar is a little bit unclear, but it’s not consistent with any of the recommendations that have occurred over the past 30, 40, 50 years,” said Dr. Alice Lichenstein, professor of nutrition science and policy at Tufts University on Oregon Public Broadcasting.

If you find yourself depressed this time of year, you’re not alone. Twenty percent of Americans reportedly suffer from Seasonal Affective Disorder, commonly referred to as SAD. The Pocahontas Times recommends a diet rich in omega-3 fats to help improve mood, including canola oil.

Other Country News

Health Canada stands by its original findings that the herbicide glyphosate is safe and doesn’t cause cancer, reported the CBC. “A team of 20 of our best scientists reviewed the evidence before coming to this decision,” noted a spokesperson for Canada’s Health Minister.

What trade war? Though the spat between China and the U.S. has been resolved (for now), the predicted slump in oilseed prices hasn’t materialized in Canada at all, with canola planting expected to jump 5 percent to a record 24 million acres (9.7 million hectares) in 2019, reported Bloomberg. “With a lot of the yields we’re seeing, even if it got as low as CDN $10 (a bushel), they’re still profitable,” said Norm Hall, farmer and vice president of the Canadian Federation of Agriculture.

Latest Industry News

The new Pacific Northwest Canola Association named Karen Sowers as its executive director as of Jan. 25, 2019. Currently, she is an extension specialist with Washington Oilseed Cropping Systems at Washington State University. With the association, she will work with regional growers, policy makers and industry to expand canola acreage. “The potential for increasing this high-demand crop is huge in the PNW, especially with the availability of crushing and processing facilities in Warden, Wash., Rickreall, Ore., and Great Falls, Mont.,” Sowers said. “Our cereal-dominated region will also benefit agronomically with canola as a rotational crop.”

Good news for U.S. canola growers: XiteBio® Yield+, a plant growth-promoting rhizobacteria, is now available. This biological product increases canola yields by an average of 7 percent or 3-4 bu/acre. It does so by 1) unlocking bound phosphorus from the soil for use by the plant and 2) releasing hormones that tell the plant to ramp up its root and shoot growth. “This was the first phosphate-solubilizing bacteria registered by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency,” said Jim Johnson, president of Star Specialty Seed, a distributor for XiteBio®.

Attendees of the Crop Production Show in Saskatoon, Sask., Canada in January were abuzz with Honey Bee’s new Airflex combine header. The company designed one of the biggest and lightest header’s on the market, spanning 30 to 50 feet and weighing 6,400 to 8,400 pounds, the Western Producer reported. “It is the lightest design we have seen, and you can have any finger spacing you want,” said founder Glenn Honey. “Doubling up (the fingers) to clear the cutter bar is easily done. You can go to 2.5 inches on every other bat, you name it.”

About the USCA

he USCA held its annual membership meeting in Washington, D.C., Jan. 30 and elected the following officers: President Pat Murphy, N.D. grower; 1st Vice President Andrew Moore, Ga. grower; 2nd Vice President Bryan Aalund, N.D. grower; Secretary Mark Torno of WinField® United; and Treasurer Mindy Whittle of Bayer CropScience. Pacific Northwest Canola Association President Ray Mossman was elected a director at large.

The USCA joined the Coalition for Accurate Product Labels to ensure that labels pertaining to the agricultural sector are science-based, meaningful and not misleading. It continues to be a member of the Honey Bee Health Coalition for which it has put together best management practices for canola growers to protect pollinators. Look out for a PDF guide at by the Commodity Classic Feb. 28-March 2.

Want to promote your products or services to canola producers and industry members? Visit the USCA advertising sections online to find specs, deadlines and rates to advertise in this monthly e-newsletter or on

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