Canola

24.05.17

A minor crop in the late 1980s, canola is now Australia’s third largest broadacre crop (behind wheat and barley) and the major broadleaf rotation crop in the grain-producing regions of Australia. Easily recognised by its vivid yellow flowers in spring, it is grown for the oil extracted from its seed, which is used in margarine, cooking and salad oils, and edible oil blends. Canola oil is considered healthy because it is low in saturated fat, high in monounsaturated fat, has an ideal balance of omega fatty acids and is a good source of vitamin E.

A nutritious stockfeed is also produced from the residue (meal) remaining after the oil has been extracted, and is incorporated widely in rations for pigs, poultry and dairy cattle.

Facts and figures

  • Canola is Australia’s third largest broadacre crop and is grown on large agricultural enterprises
  • It is grown for its seed, which is crushed for oil that is used in margarine, cooking oils and edible blends
  • Canola oil is considered a healthy choice because it is low in saturated fat
  • It provides an environmental benefit to farmers looking for a break crop to grow in rotation with wheat
  • Canola requires more management and monitoring than cereal crops
  • Most of the equipment needed to grow canola is already available on most properties that grow other crops

Production status

币游注册The 2012–13 Australian canola harvest was the largest on record at 4,000,000 tonnes, up 17% on the previous record set in 2011–12. Annual production averages 3.5 million tonnes, with Western Australia the largest producer, followed by New South Wales, Victoria and South Australia.

Australia exports over two million tonnes of canola per annum to its main export markets of Japan, China, Pakistan, Europe and Bangladesh.

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Map of current and potential growing regions

 is available from the Australian Oilseeds Federation.

Climate

Canola fits well into the temperate climate zone, traditionally in a crop rotation on grain–sheep farms in the 450–700mm annual rainfall zones but newer varieties and farming practices allow canola to be grown in much drier environments, in areas where rainfall is down to about 325mm annually.

币游注册It is also suited to the subtropical zones of northern New South Wales and southern Queensland, however adequate winter rainfall is required for good crop growth.

Varieties

All canola grown commercially in Australia is the swede rape type Brassica napus. There are also small quantities of Brassica juncea (brown or Indian mustard) grown in Australia.

币游注册The selection of a variety will depend on maturity, herbicide tolerance, blackleg resistance, relative yield, oil content and early vigour, as well as regional suitability. It is recommended that new entrants to the industry seek advice from an advisor or agronomist on the best variety for their circumstance.

Varieties include conventional ones and those that have been traditionally bred with a range of attributes that provide benefit to the grower and end-user, including herbicide resistance (triazine tolerance and Clearfield varieties), high yielding hybrids and varieties with an oil composition suited to the fast food industry.

币游注册There are genetically modified (GM) varieties that contain traits that confer additional herbicide tolerance. The GM varieties of canola have been approved for production in Australia, however not all states permit them to be grown. Information about the approved GM canola and the states in which it can and cannot be grown are contained in a  prepared by the Office of the Gene Technology Regulator.

The  (NVT) is an independent source of advice on the performance of available varieties.

Planting and crop management

币游注册Canola is relatively easy to grow but it does require higher levels of monitoring, management and inputs than cereal crops.

币游注册Paddock selection must take into account the risks associated with the disease, blackleg. It is advised that canola be grown in a paddock where it has not been grown for at least four years and where it is well separated from paddocks where it was grown recently. Paddocks that have had triazine herbicides (including atrazine and simazine) applied in the previous year should also be avoided as residues can affect the seed’s germination. All plantback periods for previously used herbicides should be noted before sowing.

币游注册Canola is generally planted during early April and mid May, but may be extended to June in high rainfall areas. It is a tiny seed and sowing depth must be well controlled. It is best sown shallow and evenly, in soil with good moisture and covered by a thin layer of soil to protect it from drying out before or after germination.