Canada’s canola crop has surpassed the quality of last year’s bumper crop, despite trying early-growing-season weather that delayed maturity and created uneven growth.
Tests by the Canadian Grain Commission show top-grade seed samples have an average of 44.8 per cent oil content – a measurement of the oilseed’s value to crushers who extract the oil for use in cooking oil and biodiesel.
That surpasses the oil content for last year’s top-graded crop (44.3 per cent) and the 10-year average (42.5 per cent).
“It’s not really surprising considering the type of weather we did receive,” said Ann Puvirajah, an oilseed chemist with the Grain Commission.
Drought and cool weather held back early growth of most crops, but late-summer cool weather during canola’s seed-development growth stage was helpful to quality. September heat advanced the crop to maturity before frost could damage much of it.
Samples showed the top-rated crop has an average of 13.9 parts per million of chlorophyll, which measures the amount of unripe seeds that are less useful to crushers. That figure is favourable compared to the 10-year average of 14.3 parts, but not as beneficial as last year’s 11 parts per million.
Farmers were concerned the chlorophyll count might be high because uneven growth could result in green seeds harvested with ripe crop, said Dave Hickling, vice-president of canola utilization for the Canola Council of Canada.
Canada is the world’s top exporter of canola. The better the quality, the better Canadian canola stands up in price against rapeseed and canola from other countries like France, Germany and the U. S.
Ninety-three per cent of the canola samples reached the top grade.
The cool weather has also had a downside, with protein levels for the top grade slipping to 20 per cent from last year’s 20.8 per cent and the 10-year average of 21.4 per cent. Protein content is important for production of canola meal, which crushers ship to the U. S. for animal feed.
The Grain Commission tested 491 samples and will release new test results next month.
There is still uncertainty about the size of the canola crop, with an estimated 20-25 per cent unharvested after snow and rain last week. Agriculture Canada pegged it last week at 10.27 million tonnes, down 19 per cent from last year’s harvest.