Canola producers across the state will have 2 opportunities to attend the 8th Annual Oklahoma-Kansas Winter Canola Conference.

Officials said that 2 conference dates and locations have been set to help accommodate attendees from different parts of the state, to help reduce travel times.

The first session will be held July 26 in Enid at the Hoover Building at the County Fairgrounds, while a July 31 session is in Altus at Western Oklahoma State College.  Both conference events will be held from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m., and a lunch will be provided.

There is no cost to attend either event and no need to pre-register.

Officials said the purpose of the conferences is to assist current canola growers with the latest information about the crop, as well as stimulate interest in planting the product for those who currently don't.

Topics to be covered at the conferences include:

- Economics of rotating wheat and canola planting;

- Varieties of canola, and the insects and diseases that affect it;

- Production management;

- Oklahoma Oilseed Commission demonstrations;  

- Fertilizing and its effects; and

- Insurance issues, particularly when dealing with weather-related losses.

The conference is sponsored by OSU Extension, Kansas State University, the Great Plains Canola Association and the Oklahoma Oilseed Commission.

For more information about canola or the conference, go to greatplainscanola.org or www.canola.okstate.edu.

CANOLA PROFITABLE AND CAN INCREASE CROP PRODUCTION

Jeff Scott, president of the nonprofit Great Plains Canola Association, said the conference is held in the summer in order to prepare canola producers for the upcoming planting season.

"There are soil preparations that need to be made in the summer," he said.

Scott said there are 2 big benefits to planting canola.  One is that canola is profitable.  The second is that it makes a good rotational crop for wheat, because canola planting may chiefly help a field reduce weeds, thus making the next planing of wheat  more productive.

"Canola is measured in a 50-pound bushel," Scott said. "It is normally about twice the price of a 60-pound bushel of wheat. On top of this, wheat fields that are planted following a canola crop are typically about 40 percent more productive than a wheat-on-wheat planting."

So that encourages a profitable planting cycle, he said.

Scott said after the wheat harvest, canola is planted about mid-September.

"It then goes dormant for the winter, like wheat, and then is harvested along with wheat," he said, but noted slight modifications to combines are required for canola harvest.

Scott didn't have figures on the amount of canola planted in Woodward County, but he noted that 200,000 acres of the crop was harvested this year from Central Kansas through North Texas.

"So we're right in the heart of the canola output," he said.

WHAT'S IT USED FOR?

Scott said many are aware of the health benefits of canola oil.

"It is as low in saturated fat as olive oil and is cheaper than olive oil," he said. "It is flavor-neutral for anything you cook with it."

And Scott said the oil is also used in biofuels, specifically biodiesel, to extend its supply.

He said that the meal that is left over after the oil is pressed from canola is a high-protein food source for cattle and poultry.

"The dairy farmers really like it," he said of the canola meal. "They see an increase in their animals' milk production after feeding it."

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