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Canola Bounces Back

first_imgIn the year-to-year gamble with their crops, farmers win some and lose some. But theyalways learn something.”I’d say this was a terrible year for growing canola,” said John Woodruff, anagronomist with the University of Georgia Extension Service. “But we’ve gotten a lot of newinformation about how the crop reacts under certain weather conditions in Georgia.”Woodruff, farmers and other UGA specialists and researchers teamed up to learn aboutgrowing canola. After more than five years of research, Georgia farmers have planted thecrop commercially for about six years.Farmers grow canola for its valuable seeds, which are crushed for their oil. Pricesthis year have topped $6 per bushel, and Woodruff expects prices to rise slightly into1997.Light in color and flavor, canola oil is very low in saturated fats and ischolesterol-free. Many people now prefer it for cooking.Canola meal, left after the seeds are crushed for oil, provides an excellent proteinsource for livestock.”People around the world are virtually standing in lineto buy this crop,” Woodruff said. “We’re working to help Georgia farmers fill that market.”Woodruff figures Georgia farmers could plant up to 200,000 acres to canola. Evenfiguring conservatively, that could mean nearly $50 million to the state economy everyyear.This year, though, that figure will be much less.Unusually cold weather in December, February and March damaged canola across the state.The crop was particularly hard-hit between Statesboro and Augusta.Woodruff said many farmers lost their crops in a hard December freeze, and many whosefields survived then thought their crop was gone after early March brought another deepfreeze.”In most of the damaged fields, we estimated losses at20 percent to 60 percent,” he said. “But we saw some fields with damage or lossof 90 percent or more.”Some farmers decided to harrow up their fields and plant another high-value crop. Corn,small grains and cotton were all bringing high prices, and many farmers chose to plantthem.But since canola is fairly new to the Southeast, farmers and researchers weren’t sure how or if it couldrecover from such damage. As it turns out, much of the canola wasn’t killed. It just froze down to the ground. Certain varieties storefood in the plant’s roots and use it to recover from severe damage, Woodruff said.A”We’re seeing plants now that produced axillary stems at the base of theplant,” he said. “Those stems then grew, flowered and are now producingharvestable seeds.”The plants recovered well enough to produce 20 to 35 bushels per acre (40 percent to 80percent of a normal yield). The unusually cool March and April, Woodruff said, helped theplants rebound.”This year taught us a lot about canola,” Woodruff said. “The more we learn, the morewe have to base sound management and financial decisions on in the future.”In the year-to-year gamble with their crops, farmers win some and lose some. But theyalways learn something.”I’d say this was a terrible year for growing canola,” said John Woodruff, anagronomist with the University of Georgia Extension Service. “But we’ve gotten a lot of newinformation about how the crop reacts under certain weather conditions in Georgia.”Woodruff, farmers and other UGA specialists and researchers teamed up to learn aboutgrowing canola. After more than five years of research, Georgia farmers have planted thecrop commercially for about six years.Farmers grow canola for its valuable seeds, which are crushed for their oil. Pricesthis year have topped $6 per bushel, and Woodruff expects prices to rise slightly into1997.Light in color and flavor, canola oil is very low in saturated fats and ischolesterol-free. Many people now prefer it for cooking.Canola meal, left after the seeds are crushed for oil, provides an excellent proteinsource for livestock.”People around the world are virtually standing in lineto buy this crop,” Woodruff said. “We’re working to help Georgia farmers fill that market.”Woodruff figures Georgia farmers could plant up to 200,000 acres to canola. Evenfiguring conservatively, that could mean nearly $50 million to the state economy everyyear.This year, though, that figure will be much less.Unusually cold weather in December, February and March damaged canola across the state.The crop was particularly hard-hit between Statesboro and Augusta.Woodruff said many farmers lost their crops in a hard December freeze, and many whosefields survived then thought their crop was gone after early March brought another deepfreeze.”In most of the damaged fields, we estimated losses at20 percent to 60 percent,” he said. “But we saw some fields with damage or lossof 90 percent or more.”Some farmers decided to harrow up their fields and plant another high-value crop. Corn,small grains and cotton were all bringing high prices, and many farmers chose to plantthem.But since canola is fairly new to the Southeast, farmers and researchers weren’t sure how or if it couldrecover from such damage. As it turns out, much of the canola wasn’t killed. It just froze down to the ground. Certain varieties storefood in the plant’s roots and use it to recover from severe damage, Woodruff said.A”We’re seeing plants now that produced axillary stems at the base of theplant,” he said. “Those stems then grew, flowered and are now producingharvestable seeds.”The plants recovered well enough to produce 20 to 35 bushels per acre (40 percent to 80percent of a normal yield). The unusually cool March and April, Woodruff said, helped theplants rebound.”This year taught us a lot about canola,” Woodruff said. “The more we learn, the morewe have to base sound management and financial decisions on in the future.”last_img read more