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Plant seeks more Pacific Northwest canola

Matthew Weaver

Capital Press

Pacific Coast Canola hopes to be 100 percent locally sourced within the next few years. The $120 million Warden, Wash., plant is working to increase farmer awareness of the agronomic benefits of raising canola.

WARDEN, Wash. — Pacific Coast Canola expects to buy nearly 2 million metric tons of canola over the next four to five years, and its managers say they want to buy it from Northwest farmers.

Pacific Coast Canola buys canola from the Northwest, Canada and the Midwest through cooperative elevators and grain dealers for its new plant in Warden, Wash.

“Our goal in the next several years is to be 100 percent local-sourced,” chief operating officer Matt Upmeyer said.

About 66,000 acres of canola were planted in the Northwest in 2011. That increased to roughly 111,000 acres in 2012 and 144,000 acres in 2013. The company expects growth to continue in 2014. Upmeyer said PNW canola typically yields roughly 1 ton per acre.

The $120 million plant is slated to reach full production capacity by the end of the year. At full capacity, the plant can produce 40 million gallons of edible canola oil and 220 metric tons of canola meal annually. The plant uses roughly 380,000 metric tons of canola seed annually.

The plant is scheduled to receive its first 110-unit train of canola seed the week of Oct. 28, Upmeyer said. That represents eight days of production at the plant.

Upmeyer said the plant brings in 1,100 metric tons of canola seed per day, producing edible oil for cooking and salad dressings and canola meal for animal feed that is sold to buyers as far away as Vietnam.

The plant’s parent company buys agricultural products, primarily pulses and other crops, from 18,000 growers worldwide and sells them in 82 countries. The diversification keeps the company strong, said Joel Horn, CEO of the Canadian company Legumex Walker, which owns 85 percent of Pacific Coast Canola.

“The grower in the Pacific Northwest wants us to be strong,” Horn said. “They want to know that when they make a commitment to grow canola, next year when that canola comes off the field, we’re going to be here to buy it.”

Ralston, Wash., canola farmer Curtis Hennings told the media tour he’s had “tremendous” weed control chemical savings raising canola, saving about $15 per acre. His yield usually is about 20 percent higher planting wheat after canola than planting wheat after wheat.

“It’s extremely important for us here,” Hennings said of the Warden plant, estimating he will save $40 to $50 per ton on transportation compared to the next-closest location in Lethbridge, Alberta, Canada.

The plant uses an expeller press to mechanically remove the oil instead of using the gas hexane for oil extraction. It is one of two plants in North America to use that method. The plant is one of two companies in North America verified to offer both GMO and non-GMO canola.

Pacific Coast Canola: www.pacificcoastcanola.com

Legumex Walker: www.legumexwalker.com


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