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Agricultural News

So Far- So Good for the the Southwest Oklahoma Canola Crop

Mon, 02 Jan 2012 05:14:04 CST

So Far- So Good for the the Southwest Oklahoma Canola Crop More than 200,000 acres of winter canola are believed to have been planted in Oklahoma, south Kansas and north Texas for the 2011-12 crop year, according to Gene Neuens, who works for the Producers Cooperative Oil Mill at Oklahoma City.

The oil mill and Oklahoma State University planted a winter canola test plot in cooperation with Cotton County farmer Jimmy Kinder this year. The test plot is located on the north side of HW70 seven miles east of Grandfield. Winter canola varieties planted in the test plot are all Roundup Ready varieties enabling farmers to obtain better weed control when planting the varieties.
Varieties planted in the test plot are Cropland 110, 115, 125 and 154 as well as DeKalb 4615, 4110 and 4710, Neuens said. Sulfur and boron tests with winter canola are also included in the test plot, Neuens said.

Planting the plots occurred between Sept. 10 and Oct. 10, 2011, the "planting window" for winter canola in the southern plains, he said. Believing in winter canola's future in the region, Kinder and his family planted 3,000 acres of winter canola.

"We dusted in out canola and wheat this time," Kinder said. "It hadn't rained any all year. 2011 was a record year for drought and hot weather. But in the last 90 days we have received over 10 inches of rain. That has given us an entirely new outlook for our crops growth."

Severe drought conditions caused many farmers and ranchers to sell a lot of their cattle, Kinder said. There was no pasture grass available, what hay was available escalated in price and most of the pasture ponds dried up, he said.

"But now these new rains have given us a chance to put calves on wheat pasture," Kinder said. "Most of the wheat in this area has cattle grazing on it. We have cattle grazing on all of our wheat."

Although NOAA and other meteorologists are predicting a continuation of drought conditions in varying stages of severity for 2012, Kinder is hopeful the rains will continue for the rest of the growing season so they can have a good harvest next spring.

Kinder finds winter canola has real benefits for wheat production when wheat is planted on fields where canola was planted the year before. "We obtained, under drought conditions, our best wheat yields where wheat followed winter canola," he said.

One of the reasons wheat does well following canola is the large taproot grown by the canola plant, Kinder said. The taproot, similar that that grown by cotton plants, breaks up subsoil pans, loosening the soil to make it easier for water and nutrients to be available for crop uptake.

Winter canola is a relatively new crop in the southern Great Plains, first developed by Dr. Tom Peeper, OSU Extension agronomist, in his search for ways to break up weed problems in continuously-grown winter wheat.

Dr. Peepers' research proved winter canola, being a different crop than winter wheat. breaks up the cycle of perennial weeds like winter grass and rye. Presence of these weed seeds in wheat taken to grain terminals at harvest reduces prices paid to farmers for their grain.

Winter canola seed has a large oil content which makes it an important source of oil for biofuels and for cooking oil. Prices paid for winter canola seed historically have been higher than those prices paid for winter wheat.

Winter canola production gives farmers one more important money crop to add to wheat, cotton, corn, grain sorghum and soybeans grown in the southern Great Plains.

Our thanks to Vic Schoonover for providing details of this article to us about winter canola production in southwest Oklahoma.



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