Western Canada’s Other Oil Boom

There’s an oil boom taking place across the Canadian Prairies but it’s not what you think. A different kind of oil – an oilseed – is blooming throughout Manitoba, Saskatchewan and Alberta. It’s called canola.

Canola is a western Canadian success story. The crop was bred at the University of Manitoba in the 1970s. This educational blog post on canola is for my American agnerd friends. I recently attended an agricultural conference in the United States and discovered that many Americans have no idea what canola is.

Every summer much of the Canadian Prairies becomes a sea of yellow flowers, which is the canola blooming. Canola, which prefers cooler weather, is seeded in the spring and harvested in the fall. After the crop is swathed in August or September it lies in rows for awhile until it is ready to be combined. The combine then goes through the field separating out the tiny dark circular seeds.

The canola seeds are crushed into the canola oil that you buy in your grocery store. And canola oil is an ingredient in a variety of food. Canola oil is known to be more heart healthy than other types of oil. The oil can also be used for livestock consumption and as biodiesel.

Over the years canola has become more popular for Canadian farmers to grow because its value has increased significantly. Recently, Statistics Canada said Prairie farmers are anticipating record canola production this year. The latest crop estimates show a record 15.2 million tonnes of canola will be produced, surpassing the record of 14 million tonnes set in 2011.

For as long as I can remember, we have grown canola on my family farm in southern Manitoba. Here are some canola photos from our farm.

One of our canola fields blooming.
Combining canola on our farm.
Unloading canola on our farm.
This is what the tiny dark canola seeds look like when they’re crushed.
A bottle of Crisco canola oil.

Last fall I wrote a detailed blog post about our canola harvest. To read it click here.

If you’d like more information about canola visit the Canola Council of Canada website. If you have any questions about canola please comment below. I love hearing from you!

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