Canola Quick Bytes

A supplement to U.S. Canola Digest


Capitol Hill

On May 20, the Senate Appropriations Committee reported out of full committee its FY 2017 agricultural spending bill. Despite overall funding ($21.25 billion) being down 2 percent from FY 2016, the National Canola Research Program — funded under the line item “Supplemental and Alternative Crops” — received $825,000. This was the same as last year. The House Agricultural Appropriations Committee did not fund the program in its version of the bill (it never has). The two reports should now proceed to the floor of both chambers for passage, then conferenced to resolve differences and considered again in both chambers for final passage. However, regular order has not occurred for several years and if the same procedure as last year occurs, the two reports will be conferenced by the two committees and inserted into an omnibus during the lame duck session in November/December.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released on May 18 its proposed rule for the Renewable Fuel Standard and Renewable Volume Obligations, including volume requirements for biomass-based diesel for 2018 and total advanced biofuels volumes for 2017 and 2018. The proposed rule calls for 2.1 billion gallons of biomass-based diesel in 2018 (requirements for 2016 and 2017 are 1.9 billion and 2.0 billion gallons, respectively). The biomass-based diesel utilization in the U.S. was about 2.1 billion gallons in 2015 and it’s expected to exceed that amount in 2016. By law, the EPA is supposed to finalize biomass-based diesel volumes 14 months in advance of the applicable year so it is targeting November 2016 to issue a final rule for 2018 biomass-based diesel volumes. There will be a 60-day public comment period until July 11 and the U.S. Canola Association (USCA) will submit comments.

The Honey Bee Health Coalition — a broad array of stakeholders including beekeepers, growers, researchers, government agencies, agribusinesses, conservationists and brands — is working to improve the health of honey bees in the U.S. and Canada. It is making tremendous progress, including working through the Bee Understanding Project to develop an innovative job swap for beekeepers and growers that is highlighted in an award-winning, short documentary. The coalition is also promoting planting bee forage on agricultural lands and sharing pollinator protection practices for farmers and beekeepers. Visit the coalition’s website to learn more about how the U.S. Canola Association and others are working together to promote bee health. National Pollinator Week is June 20-26, 2016!

Agronomy

Texas A&M AgriLife Research is studying the use of canola as a rotational crop in the state’s Rolling Plains and High Plains regions. According to Dr. Clark Neely of Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service, canola is being considered because it allows wheat producers to use herbicides to clean up grassy weeds in their fields. Studies have looked at the efficacy of planting canola in a rotation following both wheat and sorghum crops. They have also looked at other variables that include planting dates, seeding rates, row spacing, tillage and the use of plant growth regulators.

Scientists at the University of Guelph made what was nearly an accidental discovery, but one that could have major effects on canola yields. Researchers found that when they inserted a particular corn enzyme into Arabidopsis — a small flowering plant often tested in labs because of its similarity to common farm crops — the plant’s growth doubled, while seed production increased by 400 percent. Because Arabidopsis is similar enough to oilseed crops like canola, researchers believe that canola yields could be expanded through similar tweaks. They plan to test canola, expecting field trials and analysis to take several years.

Nutrition

Ever wonder what heart experts eat for their own good health and nutrition? Wonder no more. Four Harvard physicians shared their favorite heart-healthy dinner menus with the Harvard Heart Letter. While all practice what they preach — consuming a lot of vegetables, legumes, lean proteins and fruit — the menus varied according to their diverse ethnic backgrounds. For example, Dr. Frank Hu, professor of epidemiology and nutrition and a native of central China, shared a traditional East Asian entrée made of green, leafy vegetables stir-fried in canola oil, served with steamed fish and brown rice. But don’t forget dessert! For Dr. Francine Welty, associate professor of medicine, that means fruit pies. “For an easy, heart-healthy homemade crust, I mix flour, canola oil and skim milk and press it into the pie pan.”

Everyone knows salads are healthy, but they can be boring when homemade, noted Elite Daily. So add some oomph to your next bowl of lettuce with a new homemade salad dressing like cumin, honey and curry powder mixed with canola oil and balsamic vinegar. Canola oil is heart-healthy and has a neutral flavor, allowing the other ingredients – both those in the dressing and in the salad – to shine through. Not a fan of cumin or curry? Try this fresh, summery dressing with strawberries instead.

Other Country News

In recent years, farmers in Canada have lost up to 20 percent of their potential canola yields to clubroot disease. But thanks to the work of Habibur Rahman at the University of Alberta, that trend may change. He has been studying clubroot and ways to fight it since 2004. Now his work is paying off as Rahman has developed the first clubroot-resistant variety. This could have a major impact on the Canadian economy, where canola is the number one cash crop worth $20 billion a year.

While a solution to clubroot may be in the works, farmers in Canada still have to worry about the impact of weather on their crops. A widespread frost in western Saskatchewan could force farmers to reseed newly-emerged canola crops, as temperatures dipped below zero in the region, The Canadian Press reported.

Latest Industry News

Bayer CropScience wants to buy Monsanto, but that isn’t happening just yet, The Wall Street Journal reported. The world’s largest seed company rejected Bayer’s $62 billion takeover offer as too low, but did say it would be open to additional discussions about a potential deal. Bayer made its $122-per-share offer on May 23 for a deal that, if accepted, would create the world’s largest seed and crop-chemical supplier. That would significantly change the makeup of Bayer, since agriculture would become about half of the German-based company’s sales. It could also raise U.S. antitrust concerns because of the overlap in the seeds business (i.e., soybeans, cotton and canola).

Cargill researchers have found a way to reduce saturated fat in shortenings with the use of canola oil. At the American Oil Chemists’ Society in Salt Lake City, they demonstrated how they could reduce saturated fat by 40 percent, while not having any negative impact on performance. The method involves replacing some of the shortening’s saturated fat with a blend of canola oil and starch.

The Global Canola Oil Industry 2016 Market Research Report is available for purchase, which means pages upon pages of useful information. It includes 150 tables and figures of industry data in 13 chapters.

About Biotechnology

Biotech crops are safe for human and animal consumption and have not increased risk of any medical condition, including cancer, obesity, gastrointestinal illnesses or allergies, reported USA Today. This news came from results of a two-year report by the National Academies of Science, conducted by more than 50 experts reviewed over 900 studies from the past 20 years.

In spite of the safety of biotech foods, major food companies have agreed to do biotech labeling. Campbell Soup was the first big company to say so in January. Now, cereal makers General Mills and Kellogg’s, candy producer Mars and food manufacturer ConAgra have announced that they will label products containing biotech ingredients as well. Regardless, they all support food biotechnology.