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Schmidt, W.H. 1990. Potential of canola production in Ohio. p. 216-217. In: J. Janick and J.E. Simon (eds.), Advances in new crops. Timber Press, Portland, OR.

Potential of Canola Production in Ohio

Walter H. Schmidt



Recently, Ohio farmers began growing canola as a winter oil seed crop. Farmers planted about 400 ha (1000 acres) of canola (rapeseed, Brassica napus) in the fall of 1987 concentrated in the western half of Ohio and extended from the Michigan border to the Ohio River. Greater amounts of rainfall in southern Ohio resulted in better plant stands and consequently higher yields. Canola yields from Central Ohio, near Upper Sandusky, ranged from 616 kg/ha (11 bu/acre) on light colored soils to 2242 kg/ha (40 bu/acre) on dark colored soils in river bottoms. Yields in similar circumstances from more southern areas, near Wilmington, averaged 2150 kg/ha (43 bu/acre) on dark colored soils.

Farmers usually apply nitrogen to canola at rates of 89 to 134 kg/ha (80-120 lb/acre). In a replicated trial with four nitrogen treatments (28, 84, 140, and 196 kg/ha), highest yields were obtained with 196 kg/ha (175 lb/acre) which produced a seed yield of 2017 kg/ha in Northwest Ohio and 3082 kg/ha in Southern Ohio.

Some Canadian soils are deficient in sulfur and in these areas additions of sulfur greatly enhanced canola seed yield (Thomas 1984). Ohio soils are not known to be sulfur deficient and no increase in yield resulted from addition of 20 kg S/ha (18 lb/acre) but seed glucosinolate level increased 40%. The increase of glucosinolate level when sulfur is added to soils not deficient in this nutrient has been observed by other researchers (K. Kephart, pers. commun.).

The optimum date of seeding in 1987 was the first two weeks of September. A mid-August seeding which looked good in the fall sustained a 75% plant loss over the winter. K. Kephart (pers. commun.) has observed a high positive correlation in Idaho between the size of a canola plant when fall growth stops and its ability to survive the winter. Measurements of leaf size and number have not proven very helpful as plant characteristics associated with winter survival. Plantings made September 23 to October 13 in 1987 did not achieve enough fall growth to survive the winter. However, only 9.2 cm (3.6 inches) of rain fell during the planting period and a normal rainfall pattern could alter the plant survival data.


The Ohio farmer's price at harvest time in 1988 was 31 cents/kg ($7 per 50 lb. bushel). Price was affected by distance to market and the mode of transportation used. In September 1988, the 1989 production could have been contracted for 26 cents/kg ($6/bu) delivered at harvest. Since several canola crushers want more production than is available in Ohio the purchase price may increase in the future. In 1988, Ohio farmers delivered their canola to local grain dealers immediately following harvest. Grain dealers moved the product directly to a crusher eliminating any long term storage of canola seed in Ohio. Canola seed should not be stored long term unless the moisture is less than 9%.

Most Ohio farmers did not have an opportunity to price their canola preceding harvest by means of a forward contract in 1988. One large Ohio grain handler offered this service in 1988 and will continue to offer it in 1989. A national soybean crusher is also offering this service for 1989. A majority of the 1989 Ohio production was processed by Archer Daniels Midland in Windsor, Ontario, Canada. Ohio farmers delivered their canola to a local handler who made arrangements to transport the seed to Canada.

Several new markets should be available in 1989, providing Ohio farmers with additional market alternatives. A canola crushing plant will operate in Chattanooga, Tennessee in addition to the Archer Daniels Midland plant in Windsor, Canada. Several companies with small crushing facilities are now contemplating processing canola in 1989. Japanese companies have also expressed an interest in purchasing Ohio produced canola.


Canola shows a better economic return per hectare than wheat and lower yielding corn or soybeans in Ohio. While economic returns are important, livestock feed requirements and rotational needs also play an important part in determining the crops Ohio farmers grow. As with all new crops, growers in Ohio must learn to grow Canola efficiently to maximize profits. Crop area should increase significantly only after the production techniques have been mastered by the producer.

Production of the canola crop fits into a time when many Ohio farmers may have unused labor. Seedbed preparation and planing occur before fall wheat planting and soybean harvest. Canola harvest can occur before wheat harvest if short season cultivars are used. When canola is fall planted in a weed free seedbed, no herbicides are needed for weed control. The canola plant is very competitive after it has 4-6 leaves.

Ohio farmers produced approximately 40 ha (100 acres) of canola in 1987, 400-800 ha (1000-2000 acres) in 1988 and have 5200 ha (13,000 acres) planted for 1989 harvest. The number of local firms purchasing canola from Ohio farmers has increased by a similar magnitude. With two or more new crushing plants in the United States available for 1989 production there should be little difficulty in marketing canola. Since canola is widely accepted in the food chain, desire for the refined oil is high. This crop appeals to many farmers because it can be produced using currently owned equipment which spreads the overhead costs over more area and the labor peaks synchronize well with other grain crops.

The food industry is using canola oil in ways it formerly used soybean or other vegetable oils. As long as soybean oil is a by-product of soybean meal it will have a lower cost per unit than canola oil, therefore any oil requirement which does not need canola oil attributes will utilize soybean oil due to the cost differential. Canola production has a bright future in Ohio and other midwestern states.


Thomas, P. 1984. Canola growers manual Canola Council of Canada, Winnipeg, Manitoba.
Last update February 27, 1997 by aw