Canola College Attendance Highlights Oklahoma Producers' Surging Interest, Expanding AcreageThu, 13 Feb 2014 16:05:34 CST
Attendance at this year's Canola College event in Enid today shows interest in growing the crop continues to surge. That's according to Dr. Ron Sholar, executive director of the Great Plains Canola Association. He spoke with Radio Oklahoma Network Farm Director Ron Hays and said the prospect for the growth of canola acres in Oklahoma is tremendous.
"I'm feeling extremely good about this. I'm excited. We had about a little over 250 people last year and we're looking at 400 here today with us right here at this moment."
The program offered informational seminars for canola growers all the way from rank beginners to growers with eight to ten years of experience. Experienced farmers and professors from Oklahoma State University spoke on best management practices, fertility, insect and weed control.
The inclusion of canola acres in producers' rotations has grown exponentially over the last several years and Sholar says the potential is there for Oklahoma farmers to raise a million acres-worth of canola if they can just continue to get the message out.
"We started about years ago with about 40,000 and this year we have 300,000 in the ground here in Oklahoma and about 400,000 in the region counting Kansas and Texas. What we need folks to continue to understand is what it's going to do for them--not just as a stand-alone crop, canola as a crop, which is good in and of itself, but what it will do for them as a wheat farmer. It will make every wheat farmer a better wheat farmer. It will clean up his fields. It will increase his yields. This whole deal was started with the idea of making better wheat farmers and we've not abandoned that at all.
"We don't have a great reputation for the quality of our wheat coming out of Oklahoma. We've taken quite a black eye. Well, when you plant canola before this crop and rotate, we're seeing it be cleaned up. And this is not just coming from us, it's coming from the elevators who are seeing these benefits and that's, if you will, where the rubber meets the road."
Sholar says this crop does take more management than wheat, hence the impetus behind Canola College. "It's not a fire and forget crop," he says. The management requirements are not overly burdensome, however, and Sholar says those habits acquired tending a canola crop will only help wheat farmers manage that crop even better.
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