Farmers test canola in N. Washington
Rotation crop kills feral rye and other weeds in wheat fields
By MATTHEW WEAVER
Researchers in northern Washington state are examining the potential for growing canola.
USDA Agricultural Research Service research agronomist Frank Young is working with members of the Colville Confederated Tribe to develop oilseed crushing and processing plants, and area growers are interested in providing canola seed for the plant.
Canola acreage in Washington's Okanogan and Douglas counties has jumped, Young said. Winter canola is already grown throughout Eastern Washington, but the northcentral region typically has harsh winters, early falls and late springs.
"It was one of the last places we were trying to get it to grow," Young said. "When growers see it being done up there, it's going to expand further into the counties that are dabbling in it already."
Bridgeport, Wash., dryland farmer Wade Troutman has raised canola for several years. In the last four years, he ramped up production to about 900 acres. Working with Young gave him the confidence to expand his acreage, he said.
Troutman wanted a rotation crop to kill feral rye and other grassy weeds that were plaguing his winter wheat. He's pleased with the results, and is rehabilitating some acres that had been overrun.
The lack of processors in the state is a negative, Troutman said. He hopes the tribe's new facility opens soon, since he now has to ship his canola to Canada. The local conservation district may also bring in a portable crusher, he said.
"It would be great to have a local crusher," he said. "Really, to add value to a rural community, the processing has to occur in this state and (be) as local as possible."
Canola's yield and price potential is comparable to winter wheat, Troutman said.