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Published September 10, 2012, 11:09 AM

Canola yields disappoint

Area canola growers went into this growing season with high hopes for both prices and yield. They got half of what they wanted.

By: Jonathan Knutson, Agweek

Area canola growers went into this growing season with high hopes for both prices and yield. They got half of what they wanted.

“The market did its job. The environment didn’t help as much,” says Kevin Waslaski, a Langdon, N.D., farmer and president of the Northern Plains Canola Growers Association.

Canola harvest is wrapping up on the Northern Plains and producers say the crop didn’t yield as well as expected. Canola was planted in good order this spring, which encouraged expectations for good yields.

But many fields apparently suffered more from dry, hot weather than anticipated, leading to average or below-average yields, growers say.

Crop disease, particularly aster yellows, also contributed to poorer-than-expected yields. Aster yellows, a virus-like disease that usually appears as a yellow discoloration of leaves, is difficult to treat with insecticides, according to information from North Dakota State University.

Despite disappointing yields, canola’s price remains strong at about 26 cents per pound. That compares with about 22 cents per pound a year ago and 22.5 cents per pound two years ago.

“We like the price,” Waslaski says.

North of the border

Two little moisture and excessive moisture hurt Canada’s once-promising canola crop, says James Loewen, grain manager with Bunge Canada in Altona, Manitoba.

Aster yellows also was a problem in Canada, although it’s difficult to estimate how much damage was done to the country’s canola crop, he says.

Aster yellows were carried to Canada by the aster leafhopper, an aphid-sized insect. The drought in the Corn Belt forced huge numbers of the insects to move to Canada, according to reports.

North Dakota is the nation’s leading producer of canola and Canada is the world’s leading producer and exporter of the crop.

Canola oil continues to grab a bigger share of the U.S. vegetable oil market, while canola meal is fed to pigs and cattle, particularly dairy cows.

Last year, area canola growers weren’t able to take full advantage of growing demand for their product because of wet conditions that led to only 860,000 acres of the crop being planted in North Dakota.

This year, about 1.3 million acres of the crop were planted in the state.

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