Although the Southwest winter canola crop appears to have come through a cold, dry winter in good shape lack of significant moisture since it broke dormancy this spring concerns growers and industry observers.
The crop still has potential to make good yields, says Gene Neuens, oilseed field representative for Producers Cooperative Oil Mill, Oklahoma City. But it needs rain soon.
"It is very dry across western Oklahoma," Neuens said. "I just completed a two-day tour of winter canola west of I35 and a good, soaking rain is needed everywhere.
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"Our canola crop is growing now. For it to continue to do well, we need to get at least a one-inch, general rain over all of western Oklahoma. The crop is flowering, preparing to produce the seed pods needed for harvest later in the spring. If a good rain doesn't come soon, the crop will begin to drop the seed pods. As late as it is in the growing season, it may be too late to regenerate any seed pods if drought causes the crop to drop them instead of having them to fill and mature."
Neuens said the canola crop in southwestern Oklahoma is in "terrible shape." Usually, the area north of I40 in western Oklahoma has more soil moisture, but now, there is little moisture. Recent rains have been spotty, with one inch falling in scattered, limited areas. In other locations, he said, less than one inch has fallen, but this precipitation has been scattered as well.
"Rain is the only thing we don't have to have a good crop of," he said. "For instance, in the areas of Kingfisher, Enid and Cherokee, there is a lot of good canola growing, but like everywhere else, it is very dry. There hasn't been any significant rain in several months and the crop will begin to r hurt soon. We saw more good canola fields near Clinton, Weatherford and El Reno, but, like everywhere else, it needs a drink right now."
Before the end of this week, Neuens said, all of the crops growing in western Oklahoma, including winter wheat and canola, will need at least a one-inch rain. And to keep the crops on target at least one inch of rain each week will be needed so farmers will not need to get in touch with their crop insurance agents.
Producers Cooperative Oil Mill will soon start crushing canola seed to produce biofuels and high grade cooking oil, Neuens said.
"In order to process as much canola seed as possible, PCOM will be handling canola seed from spring crops grown in the Dakotas and Canada.
"We will even be receiving canola seed from growers in the Corpus Christi, Texas, area. Lack of any frost in that location allows farmers to grow spring canola behind wheat. PCOM will crush seed from there."
For more information on growing winter canola in the Southern Plains, contact Gene Neuens at PCOM, 405-232-7555 or email@example.com. His cell is 405-760-4205.
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