As producers consider future crop rotations on their farms, many
are adding canola to the rotation.
Canola has been on the increase in the southern plains for
several years, and a significant acreage is being planted in Kansas. A few southern Kansas
cooperatives are considering taking in canola if acreage continues to increase
and, after attending Canola U in Enid, I can say
with confidence that there is a strong interest in producing even more canola
The CANOLA acronym stands for Canadian Oil Low Acid. Canola has
greater profit potential at more than $12 per bushel. It has the ability to
increase future wheat yields while reducing rye and other weed pressure. The
deep canola taproot also has the potential to mellow the soil and break through
some hard pans.
Even with so many benefits, producers are skeptical of canola for
several reasons – including not having the proper harvest equipment, increased
insect pressure, poor stand establishment and winterkill. We just feel more
confident and comfortable in producing wheat. Many of the reasons canola is not
being produced can be overcome with preparation and management.
Knowing what herbicides were used will be one of the first things
to consider with canola. Planting most canola varieties following the application
of residual sulfonylurea and imidazolinone herbicides should be avoided. Even
though wheat harvest has concluded for most farmers, we are just two months
away from the canola insurance deadline of Aug. 31 for written agreements.
Field preparations are another aspect to consider with canola
production. The best stands are established on ground that is mostly clear of
residue, either by burning or tillage. No-till soils with high residue will
cause the canola crown root to rise above the residue, making it more susceptible
Sept. 15-30 is the ideal planting date in south central Kansas. Seed is
available in both conventional and Roundup Ready varieties. K-State Extension
recommends applying one-third of the nitrogen as preplant fertilizer and the
other two-thirds as top-dress in late winter. Canola also requires more
intensive insect scouting than most farmers do on their wheat.
To combat the concern of overlap of wheat and canola harvest or
the concern of not having the proper harvest equipment, many producers look to
custom cutters. A full list of custom harvesters and swathers is available at
Higher land values, high input costs and optional land uses will
squeeze profit out of traditional wheat production. This squeeze will make us
manage our crops more intensively than we have done in the past. Crop rotation
will become a necessity to produce the highest yields on all of our acres while
reducing our fungicide and herbicide costs.
If you would like more information on canola production, contact
your local Extension office and ask for a Great Plains Canola Production
Cody Barilla is the Reno County
Research and Extension agriculture agent.