By Kevin Baird
CNJ Staff writer
Area farmers are giving canola a chance this winter, according to crop scientist Sangu Angadi of the New Mexico State University Agriculture Science Center north of Clovis.
“We’re always looking to try something different,” said Todd Ware of Bovina. “I’ve been watching canola at the crop science center in Clovis for the last five years. We’re looking to expand our dry land crop portfolio.” Ware said he will be growing 80 acres of canola.
Ware said another reason he is growing canola is for crop rotation purposes, which is the practice of growing different crops on the same land to sustain the land’s productivity since different crops take different nutrients out of the soil.
Canola has many uses including forage, cattle feed, canola oil and bio diesel.
Angadi said a farmer from Curry County is growing canola this winter, too.
Canola, also known as rapeseed, can grow to be 3 to 5 feet tall, according to the U.S. Canola Association’s website, and is characterized by a vibrant yellow plume of flowers on top. There are approximately 1.5 million acres of canola grown in the United States, according to the associations website.
Angadi, who has researched canola for the last seven years, is excited about the possibilities canola has as a viable crop for this region.
“We’re running out of water. Our water is precious,” Angadi said. “The question is, how best to use it and sustain it for a for a long time?”
Angadi said this multi-use crop that is planted in the early fall uses less water than winter wheat.
“Once it is established it is more drought tolerant than traditional crops,” Angadi said.
Research at the NMSU science center in Clovis has shown that canola has a higher Relative Field Quality, a measurement that includes protein, fiber and digestibility, than winter wheat.
“You can graze it and let it go to seed,” Angadi said. Canola has a greater bio mass than winter wheat during the fall and winter months, according to Angadi.
Canola seeds are 44 percent oil, according to the U.S. Canola Association, and is used as a cooking oil. Angadi said, “What is left over is a good source of nutrients for animal feed.
“There is a big demand for canola meal,” Angadi said. “It is a real important protein supplement, and dairies are buying it from Canada.”
Ware said he plans on using his canola crop as forage. He said he is considering selling canola to a canola meal factory in Kansas or Oklahoma. Ware is also considering extracting the canola oil.
Angadi said canola can be used to make bio diesel, but the lack of a bio diesel plant in the region makes this option undesirable.