Improving agronomics and economics are making specialty high-oleic canola varieties (also known as high stability, omega-9, or low linoleic) a more favour-able choice for western Canadian farmers, according to industry participants.
Acres are expected to continue to increase in 2009.
Canadian farmers planted about 16.1 million acres of canola in 2008-09 (August/ July), harvesting a 12.6-million-tonne crop, according to Statistics Canada data.
Glenn Lennox, an oilseed analyst with Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, said there were no official government numbers on how much of the canola grown in the country is of the high oleic varieties, but agreed with estimates placing the specialty acres in the 10 per cent to 15 per cent range. Lennox said the downside of growing the higholeic specialty varieties is becoming less of an issue, especially with new herbicide-resistant options.
“Our expectation is to continue to see that segment grow as a portion of canola acres,” said Chris Anderson, vice-president of crop production with the Canola Council of Canada. He noted that there are now high-oleic canola varieties resistant to all three of the major herbicides, including Clearfield, RoundUp, and Liberty.
“I think we’re seeing improvements in technology that also make them better fits on producers’ farms, agronomically as well as economically,” said Anderson, noting that yields for high-oleic canola varieties have been steadily improving, making them easier for farmers to grow.
Farmers are paid a premium for contracting to grow high-oleic canola, as the yields are typically lower than standard commodity canola and must be identity preserved. Higholeic canola is grown for its healthy oil attributes as well as its functionality in commercial frying applications; the oil does not require hydrogenation.
The Canola Council of Canada set goals for the canola industry in 2007 under the banner “Growing Great 2015.” The 2015 goals project that at least 25 per cent of the canola acres in Canada would be of higholeic varieties by 2015, said Anderson.
Dow AgroSciences with Nexerra, and Cargill with Victory are the two major companies involved with high-oleic canola production in Canada.