Southwest ND counties expecting more canola; crop may be number one in the nationLike most crops in North Dakota, excess moisture has kept some seeds out of the canola fields. Despite fewer acres, officials are saying canola should be strong enough for good returns and keep North Dakota as the number one canola producer in the U.S.
By: Klark Byrd, The Dickinson Press
Like most crops in North Dakota, excess moisture has kept some seeds out of the canola fields. Despite fewer acres, officials are saying canola should be strong enough for good returns and keep North Dakota as the number one canola producer in the U.S.
In 2010, North Dakota produced 89 percent of the nation’s canola crop, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture National Agriculture Statistics Service. North Dakota saw a 27 percent decrease in the number of acres planted compared to last year.
North Dakota State University Research Agronomist Eric Eriksmoen said the slump is because areas in the northern counties that usually plant the majority of canola “simply weren’t able to plant” due to extremely moist conditions.
However, Eriksmoen said that farmers in the southwest counties have picked up the slack.
“Canola acres in the southwest counties, especially around the Mott-Regent area, are up probably around double of what they were last year,” he said.
Eriksmoen said that area farmers may have chosen to replace other crops because of crop rotations or because of the attractive prices when planning what crops to plant earlier this year.
Mott-area farmer Kerry Swindler said he has been producing canola for several years and that the crop this year “looks pretty doggone good.”
He added that the plants have been progressing very well despite the late planting, and that the same wet conditions that kept farmers out of the field earlier this spring have turned out to be a benefit.
“Canola likes the conditions we have had, wetter and cooler,” Swindler said. “It has been really good for development. The plants have a nice stand.”
Eriksmoen also said the cooler conditions have been a blessing.
“Typically we get into trouble now because it starts getting hot,” he said, adding that temperatures in the upper 80s or higher can hinder growth and flowering.
Swindler said he is optimistic at this point, but scorching temperatures or a visit from “the white combine” (hail storm) can always adversely affect operations.
“Harvesting canola can be a little finicky,” he said. “The seed shatters out of the pod, so when it is time to harvest, you better harvest.”
Even with fewer acres this year, Eriksmoen and Swindler were sure North Dakota would top the list for canola production.
“There is just not that much canola being grown any place else,” Eriksmoen said. “North Dakota is truly the main player.”
With the highest producing state’s declined production this year, a high-demand situation has been created that will keep prices high, Southwest Farm Service Agency County Executive Director Pete Solemsaas said.
“I am not sure where prices will go, but I assume they will stay strong,” he said.
In June, canola was up $8 per hundred weight compared to the same time last year. The price was about $25 throughout June.
Swindler said prices are good but there are too many underlying variable to be assured there will be a good return.
“It is not just the fact that we won’t be producing as much crop, the infrastructure is a mess,” he said. “The roads — the railroads — I don’t know how that will affect things this fall for getting things moved across the state and to market. The jury is still out on that yet.”
After harvest canola is processed for cooking oil, can be used as biodiesel and meal is used for feed, U.S. Canola Association Assistant Director Dale Thorenson said. However, the percentage used for each changes with the prices.
“If the biodiesel market is paying more it is will be used for biodiesel, but usually the food market will win over,” he said, adding that many dairy operations use it as a feed ration.