Beautiful canola one of the most eye-catching crops
WINGHAM, ONT. -- It’s one of the most “eye-catching” crops grown in Ontario fields. It’s colourful, creating a sea of yellow as far as the eye can see.
“This is a canola field behind me,” says Jeff Drudge, who has grown canola for the past five or six years on his family's farm near Wingham.
“This is spring canola, planted early this spring. It just started to flower two weeks ago again, and flowers for one to two weeks. It’s a beautiful crop. We love growing canola,” says Drudge.
Although it’s the lovely yellow flower that gets all the fanfare, it’s the pods that hold the secret to canola.
They hold canola seeds, which are green now, but when they’re harvested come August, they’re black.
These canola seeds are made up of 40 per cent oil, so they’re ultimately crushed in order to extract canola oil, which is used in cooking the world over. What’s left over is turned into livestock feed.
“It’s a very versatile crop,” says Drudge.
Over 20 million acres of canola are grown in Canada each year. Only 45,000 of those acres are grown in Ontario, so canola isn’t likely to challenge corn or beans for Southwestern Ontario acreage anytime soon.
“It’s almost too warm here for spring canola. Further north it goes better. Further south, there’s winter canola grown, and we’re too far north for that. It’s maybe not that hugely popular in this part of Ontario for that reason,” says Drudge.
Because it is so rare and attractive looking, canola fields do attract a crowd. Drudge says many a car driving by has stopped to take pictures of the field, or selfies with the sea of yellow in the background.
“I think that’s a good thing. It gives us a connection between farmers and non-farmers. So, we’re excited to be a part of that intervention and conversation,” says Drudge.
Drudge says canola is also a good crop for soil health, and attracts a lot of bees each summer.
“It’s a good food source for the bees, so we think it’s good for the environment to grow canola, as well,” he says.