Canola Production in Michigan (E2766)

Canola Production in Michigan (E2766)

Canola is the major oilseed crop in Canada and Western Europe. It is a type of rapeseed that has become an important crop in parts of the United States.

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Canola is the major oilseed crop in Canada and Western Europe. It is a type of rapeseed that has become an important crop in parts of the United States. Ten to fourteen million acres of spring canola are produces annually in Canada, mostly in the prairie provinces of Manitoba, Saskatchewan and Alberta. Since 1980, there has been an increase in production in Ontario, and the upper Great Lakes area of the United States westward to the Pacific Northwest.

The term canola denotes edible rapeseed that is low in crucic acid (2 percent, or less) and glucosinolates (under 30 micromoles per gram of air-dried defatted meal). At six percent, canola has the lowest level of saturated fats of any edible oil. Because consumers demand both cholesterol-free and low saturated fats in their diets, U. S. canola imports have risen dramatically. Since the early 1990s, the U.S. has imported up to 400,000 tons of canola oil annually, mostly from Canada.

Like soybeans, canola is an oilseed crop containing high levels of oil and protein. Canola typically has 40 to 44 percent oil and 23 percent protein, compared with soybeans which has 18 and 37 percent, respectively. When the oil is removed from canola, it leaves a high protein (37 percent) supplement which is fed to livestock. Nearly one-half of the canola meal produced in Canada is fed in the U.S., mostly in northern states.

Types of Canola

Canola consists of two species in the mustard family, Brassica napus and Brassica campestris. Other closely related species, often grown in the garden, are cabbage, turnips, kale, broccoli and rutabagas. Both spring and fall planted canola varieties are available in both species. Virtually all of the canola grown in the U.S. is of the napus type and may be either spring or fall planted; both types are planted in Canada. The campestris type is a very short season crop for the farther north regions. Because of Michigan’s milk winters moderated by the Great Lakes, winter canola can be produced in most southern counties. The milk, relatively cool summers also allow spring canola production in more northern areas. A comparison of spring and wither characteristics is given in Table 1.

Spring canola is best adapted throughout northern Michigan, including the Upper Peninsula. Plant fall seeded varieties where the crop can survive the winter, since yields are usually 30 to 35 percent higher than spring seeded canola. Based on experience in Michigan and Ontario, the area suitable for winter canola should be comparable to that where winter barley could be expected to survive (see maps, Fig. 1). Although spring canola generally yields less than its winter counterparts, yields of 2,000 pounds per acre, or more, are possible.


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