State's canola crop up by 8,000 acres from last year
July 11, 2019
The past month's yellow fields on the Palouse reflect in statewide canola numbers released June 30 by USDA's National Agriculture Statistics Service.
For both winter and spring canola in 2019, Washington has 75,000 acres planted, with county totals not calculated until the fall.
Montana has 120,000 acres growing and Idaho and Oregon were not listed this year. In 2018, Idaho stood at 43,000 acres and Oregon 4,700.
The Washington canola number is up 8,000 acres from last year, continuing a trend that also shows in Whitman County.
In 2012, seven Whitman County operations grew canola. Five years later, it was 25.
Washington is now ranked no. three nationwide in canola after North Dakota and Montana. North Dakota has the nation's highest acreage this year at 1.7 million.
Washington canola was first listed by the USDA in 2011, with a total of 11,000 acres.
In all, reasons for the increases in Whitman County – and elsewhere in the state, cited by Karen Sowers, executive director for the Pacific Northwest Canola Association – include crop rotation, weed control, university research, weather patterns and a processing plant built in Warden in 2012. It is designed to crush 350,000 metric tons of canola seed every year. The facility is the largest commercial-scale canola processing operation west of the Rocky Mountains.
Sowers is also a WSU Extension and Outreach Specialist.
Winter canola is planted in August while spring canola is planted in April to be harvested in July.
Before harvest, canola loses its yellow flowers, which turn into green pods, then to tan color before it is ripe to cut.