31 Jul Canola’s Growing Potential
A record number of canola acres were seeded in Canada for the 6th straight year in 2012. The United States planted a record number of acres as well. Part of this increase in acreage is due to the relative newness of canola as a large-scale commercial crop. Plenty of opportunity remains for improved production, so growth should continue to take place. Looking beyond that, canola has a lot of potential as people continue to demand healthier foods and a healthier environment.
- Canola Oil: Canola oil is considered to be the world’s healthiest vegetable oil. Its value comes from containing high levels of healthy fats that improve heart health, while also having low levels of unhealthy fats that deteriorate heart health – a claim no other cooking oil can make. Canola’s versatility and affordability make it an attractive food ingredient. Canola seed content is 44% oil, which is over twice as much as soybean.
- Canola Meal: Canola meal is high in protein and has a healthy nutrient composition. The remaining 56% of the canola seed is used as livestock feed. When compared to diets containing other meal, dairy rations containing canola meal have been shown to increase milk production in dairy cattle by an average of 1 liter, per cow, per day.
- Canola Biodiesel: Perhaps the most promising use of canola is in biofuels. Canola biodiesel has the potential to reduce greenhouse gas emissions up to 90%, when compared to regular diesel. Canola biodiesel is non-toxic and biodegradable. When compared to other crops grown for biodiesel, canola has more oil content per seed, less by-product, and the best cold weather performance. Canola biodiesel is already used widely across North America. As government requirements for biofuel use increase, the necessity for canola biodiesel will grow as well.
While the demand for canola is expected to increase rapidly, today’s growers have never been better prepared to meet that challenge. Improved seed genetics allow for higher-yielding varieties and beneficial crop traits. Better crop inputs, such as seed inoculants, allow for maximum yields on existing acres. Canola is definitely a crop on the rise.