Oh, what that tiny canola seed has to offer!
One of the crops that we grow in northern North Dakota is canola. Have you ever seen this fascinating plant? We are about smack dab in the middle of full bloom which normally happens in mid-July. As I sit in my favorite spot typing this, I can see 3 fields blooming with their bright yellow flowers…and what better time to write about the Growing Canola then when it’s at its prettiest.
I really find agriculture fascinating and if I wouldn’t have gone to college for dietetics, I think I would have gone the agricultural route. Both areas of study have to do with food, but one is producing it, and the other how to eat it; in a balanced way. Ha!
Throughout the whole USA there are so many different crops. It is interesting to read and learn about how they work, what they thrive on, how they are used and where they are grown. More specifically, in this post I am going to share with you what I have learned about growing canola over the past couple years of living on the farm. Sadly, when I think back to before I knew about my husband’s family farm I didn’t even really know where canola was grown or what it looked like! I am also going to take this great opportunity to share a lot of canola pictures with you. There will be some pictures from years past and this current farming year!
So, where did the name come from?
Canola is a plant that was bred in the 1960’s to get rid of two undesirable components of the rapeseed plant. It is a combination of “Canadian” and “ola”.
We’ll start out where the growing season does; with a little seed (see picture). Canola is grown from a tiny black/brown seed. It is planted in May in pre-fertilized soil.
After the seed has been planted you wait for the tiny seed to pop out two tiny little leaves. At this point you want to make sure you are checking for flea beetles. These little bugs love to munch on your crop and can take over the whole field if not watched for and sprayed if needed.
Next, you wait for your canola to “bolt”. In other words, there is a stem portion that shoots up from the base of the plant and this is where the flowers will bloom and later the seed pods will develop.
The next canola growing stage is one of my favorites, the blooming stage. Canola likes cooler summer weather when blooming. The smell of the canola plant is most obvious during the blooming stage. It smells slightly like cabbage. Kind of a weird smell but I actually don’t mind it.
Next, we wait for the pods to develop and the plant to mature. At this point harvest is fast approaching. Then the canola will be cut into swaths (sometimes farmers will straight cut their canola crop instead of swathing) to dry the plant out so the combine can come along and shell the pods out to collect the seeds.
Side note: I love fall and always have. Just the mention of it has me thinking all things fall. The last 3 years that we have been farming, I love it even more. Harvest time is exciting, busy and sometimes hard. But when you have a good harvest it is definitely a time of relief. The crop is in and the farm is ready for the cold days of winter.
After the crop has been harvested the rest of the process consists of marketing the canola you grew.
What benefit can you gain from canola?
The most widely known use of canola is canola oil. This is a healthy cooking oil; it is lower is saturated fat than 12 other common oils including, Sunflower, Corn, Olive, Soybean, Peanut and Coconut. Having less saturated fat means that canola oil has more room to provide you with the healthy fats; polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fat.
If you haven’t tried Canola oil yet, I encourage you to reach for it instead of vegetable oil next time you find it on your grocery list. I have switched and between that and olive oil it is all I use. You can even get canola oil in spray cans to use for nonstick cooking spray.
Some of the information in this post I got from uscanola.com. It’s an interesting website! I encourage you to check it out if you’d like to learn more about growing canola. Or, reach out to a canola grower. If you don’t know of any you are in luck because I do! Drop your questions/comments below! Thank you for reading!
To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven: A time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted; Ecclesiastes 3:1-2