Support Remains Strong for Oklahoma's Canola IndustryThu, 19 Feb 2015 17:41:29 CST
A large crowd of about 300 farmers were on hand for Canola College in Enid Thursday. In the event's third year, this was one of the largest attendance of farmers learning more about this biofuel crop from the best experts in the region.
Oklahoma Oilseed Commission and Great Plains Canola Association Executive Director Ron Sholar said they are feeling pretty good about the 2015 crop.
"We still feel good about where we are," Sholar said. "We're not wet out there right now. The crop looks good, it's photo synthesizing."
The warm sunny days are helping the canola crop. Sholar said the crop is poised to take off as the temperatures warm up, but it's in need of moisture. Overall the crop looks better than a year ago.
"We've got better stands, we have not had as much winter kill," Sholar said. "Now we have had some, we've lost some plants, but the crop has a great ability to compensate. We certainly want farmers to look at their fields very carefully and not throw in the towel early, because a lot of these that may look a little bit ragged now, as they begin to fill in, they have plenty of plants out there to make a crop."
Radio Oklahoma Network Farm Director Ron Hays interviewed Sholar. Click or tap on the LISTENBAR below to listen to the full interview.
The tough year of 2014 caused the number of canola acres in Oklahoma to decline. Sholar believes the ongoing drought has been speed bump in growing this crop's production in the state, but support remains for this growing sector. Last year there were 20 plus buying points. Sholar said all of them plan to buy canola this year, providing farmers plenty of opportunities to sell this crop.
"The belief in the crop is still there," Sholar said. "After such a terrible year, we weren't surprised that we pulled back some and of course it wasn't limited to just the growing conditions for last year's crop. We were still dry in the fall during planting time."
At Canola College, farmers learned about the latest research being conducted on the crop mostly at Oklahoma State University. Funding collected by the Oklahoma Oil Seed Commission has providing research in furthering the crop. Sholar said the intent of those dollars are to return those as an investment back to the farmer in supporting research in looking at soil fertility, variety testing, evaluating cultural practices, and planting canola in a no-till farming system.
In looking at the future of the crop, Sholar believes canola still shows a lot of potential in increasing acres in the state. He would like to see a million acres in the region with majority planted in Oklahoma. The on-going drought and lower commodity prices have slowed acreage growth. While prices are not as good as they had been, Sholar said the spread is still there between wheat and canola, along with the benefits of planting canola in a crop rotation.
"Canola is still competitive in the weather we've had and the crop prices," Sholar said. "It is still a viable option for these longtime wheat farmers. We like to say, you won't just be a good canola farmer, you will be a better wheat farmer if you can get this crop into your rotation."
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