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Canola company builds first U.S. plant


Canadian group predicts bright future for alternate crop


By MATTHEW WEAVER


Capital Press


A Canadian company has announced plans to construct a canola facility long in the works.


Legumex Walker, Inc., will build its first plant in the United States will be on 52 acres in Warden, Wash., about 18 miles south of Moses Lake.


The plant will help meet an expanding demand for canola products. Jon Austin, a spokesman for the company, said factors for the increase in demand include bans on trans-fat and greater health consciousness among consumers.


The Warden plant will purchase canola "wherever it makes the best economic sense," Austin told the Capital Press. But the company believes the facility will create a new opportunity for farmers already growing canola in the region and for others who add the crop to their rotations.


Curtis Hennings, a Ralston, Wash., farmer, has grown canola since 1984. He's not sure what impact the new plant will have, since facilities in Odessa, Wash., and Lethbridge, Alberta, take his crop.


"I don't know whether it will encourage more production," Hennings said. "There's not that much canola grown in the state."


Hennings thinks that's because canola is different, and it's a challenge to establish a stand on dry land. It performs well on irrigated farms, he said.


Hennings said canola has been profitable for him, to the point that he typically makes more on winter canola than on winter wheat. The crop helps eliminate diseases and grassy weeds and helps his soil in his rotation cycle.


Hennings said wheat typically yields about 20 percent more when planted on canola ground compared to a wheat-on-wheat rotation.


According to a press release, the Pacific Coast Canola facility is expected to be operational in 2013. It will be built and operated by Pacific Coast Canola, a Washington company 85 percent owned by Legumex Walker and 15 percent owned by Glencore Grain Investment LLC.


The plant will process 1,100 metric tons of canola per day and produce 142,500 metric tons of canola oil and 227,000 metric tons of canola meal per year, according to the press release.



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