Jeff Scott’s presentation at last week’s Oilseed Crop Production Workshops in Odessa and Colfax opened a lot of eyes to the opportunity canola farming presents to Eastern Washington farmers. His presentation, “Why I Grow Canola in Wheat Country,” hit home with the locals because Washington, too, is wheat country.
But Scott turned the wheat-only concept upside down by proclaiming: “If you’re not growing canola in rotation with wheat, you’re crazy.” Now, Scott knows a thing or two about canola farming. He’s been growing for eight years as an early adopter who introduced canola farming in the canola hotbed of … wait for it … Oklahoma.
Yep. Oklahoma, which just happens to be a much less desirable area to grow canola when compared to Eastern Washington. Yet it’s happening. More than 100,000 acres of canola were harvested last year in Oklahoma, a number that is growing annually. And wheat yields that follow canola are increasing by 20-40 percent.
If you didn’t get a chance to see Scott speak at the workshops, here’s what he says in part 3 of a recent YouTube video series:
(Canola) has made me such a better farmer. Not only for canola but for my wheat. Yields are going up. Profitability is going up. This is a crop that is truly the total package in a rotation with wheat that will make your total farm experience more profitable. … You gotta go where the money is, and this is a crop that has turned my operation around.”
(If you want to hear more about the benefits of growing canola in rotation with wheat, check out part 1 and part 2 of the video series, too.)
During the workshops, Scott chatted with Carbon Cycle Crush (CCC) president Tim King and shared that “it’s almost impossible to think those who are growing wheat are not growing canola. It’s better for the farmer, the community and the land.” Washington farmers have been reluctant to grow canola because there hasn’t been a reliable buyer in the state. Now, with CCC operational, local farmers have an extremely interested buyer of locally harvested canola.
“There is a lot of erroneous info out there and we want farmers to have access to resources – resources like Jeff Scott – that will encourage them to grow canola,” says King. “Through our website, we’ll be sharing both the successes and failures so we don’t repeat the errors of the past. By providing education – the right education – we can help Washington farmers surpass the volume and success of our friends in Oklahoma.”
During the two events, local growers also shared canola success stories. Private grower Mike Stubbs, with farms in Dusty and Lacrosse, shared that he’s developed an exact planting process to grow bigger, healthier canola plants that yield more seed. While farmers have been led to believe that 6-10 pounds of seed per acre is the requirement, Stubbs is having great success planting 2.5 pounds of seed per acre and at a shallower depth. Lower cost, better yield. It’s information like this that gets King excited.
“Mike Stubbs’ story is essential for Washington farmers,” says King. “Mike said his soil is better and his wheat yields are up, too. One of the best locations for growing canola in the world – Washington – is not growing canola. This is a story that has to be told. And we’re ready to change the world.”
Was the crowd listening? You bet. One attendee was overheard saying to a friend, “It sounds like canola is the yellow brick road. Let’s start following it.”