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Okanola is A-OK

Okanola is A-OK

It was standing room only at the July 17 Oklahoma-Kansas Winter Canola Conference in Enid, with some 350 participants attending; ditto for the next day’s conference in Altus. A series of canola field tours in April proved equally popular with producers, as did the Canola College in March.

Each is part of The Okanola Project, and an outgrowth of both producer need and DASNR’s commitment to providing solutions to the concerns and issues of Oklahoma’s agricultural sector.

The Okanola Project was established in 2004 with the purpose of introducing winter-hardy canola as a profitable rotational crop for Oklahoma and Kansas wheat growers to improve wheat yields and quality, aid in pest management and facilitate adoption of no-till crop production methods.

Josh Bushong, OSU Cooperative Extension canola specialist, said widespread producer interest in The Okanola Project is not surprising.

“If properly managed, canola can yield as many bushels as wheat in this area,” Bushong said. “Given market prices are higher than the price of wheat, it becomes obvious canola has great potential to yield high returns, which is welcome news for growers’ wallets and the state economy.”

DASNR data suggests wheat following canola can increase wheat grain yields by approximately 15 percent, and more in some areas.

“Even though conditions were less than optimal in 2013, the canola crops of Oklahoma and Kansas demonstrated resilience in the face of drought in the fall, and late freeze damage and storm-related challenges in the spring,” he said.

DASNR data suggests wheat following canola in a crop rotation can increase wheat forage by 20 percent and wheat tillers by 32 percent, both of which would favor stocker cattle operations.

“In terms of weed management, data from several wheat farms in central Oklahoma indicated rotating to canola for one year reduced wheat dockage an average of 85 percent and practically eliminated foreign material in the wheat,” Bushong said.

Canola acreage for the region has increased dramatically since 2010. Estimates indicate approximately 500,000 acres will be planted in the southern Great Plains states for the coming year.

“Canola has made me a better farmer, not only for canola but for my wheat,” said Jeff Scott, Great Plains Canola Association president and a Grant County producer. “You have to go where the money is, and canola is a crop that has turned around my operation.”

– DS

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