Canola field

A bill limiting canola in Oregon’s Willamette Valley to 500 acres a year has passed a key subcommittee.

A projected 18 percent increase in spring canola acres could impact the availability of seed this year, the leader of the regional canola organization says.

Last year, Washington farmers grew 68,000 acres of winter and spring canola, said Karen Sowers, executive director of the Pacific Northwest Canola Association and outreach specialist in oilseeds for Washington State University Extension.

She estimates the acreage could increase to 80,000 to 85,000 acres this year.

Sowers said the increased demand is due to low wheat and chickpea prices, which make canola competitive for growers.

She also cites increased interest in canola among growers in Canada and North Dakota.

“Think about getting an order in sooner than later,” Sowers said. “It’s not an emergency-type situation, but it’s definitely something to think about.”

In previous years, spring and winter canola acres were evenly split, she said. In the last four to five years, two-thirds of the crop has been spring canola.

Growers considering canola should also know which herbicide was previously used on their fields and speak with their crop consultant or a WSU representative.

Warmer winter weather could move spring planting into late March, she said. Typical spring planting in Washington, depending on location, is late March to mid- to late April.

The canola association board of directors will interview permanent candidates for executive director in Clarkston, Sowers said. She works 85 percent of full-time for WSU and 20 hours a week as executive director.

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