Winter canola creating a buzz in Ontario

OMAFRA canola specialist Meghan Moran

Winter canola fields are popping up all over Ontario. Across the province, acreage for the entire oilseed crop typically checks in around 40,000 acres, with about one third of the crop being planted in the fall, the rest being spring canola.

Over the past five years, however, winter canola has been gaining momentum in the province, having increased from just 500 acres in 2019 to an estimated 12,000 acres in 2024. Meghan Moran, Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs canola and edible bean specialist, says the growth is being driven by a combination of winter canola economics and agronomics that are a good fit for an increasing number of Ontario farmers.

“A lot of growers I’ve talked to have said this has been their most profitable crop,” says Moran. She adds that prices have been really strong in the past few years and an early winter canola harvest presents an opportunity for growers to plant double crop soybeans.

Genetics is also playing a role. Growers have had good success with Mercedes, a hybrid registered only in Ontario, that allows for early planting without bolting in the fall. “We just have a great variety, good overwintering success and strong yields across a lot of different regions in Ontario,” says Moran, She notes that winter canola is now grown as far south as Essex County, north to Barrie and east to Gananoque and into Renfrew County.

When it comes to yield, growers average around 3,600 pounds or just around 70 bushels, says Moran, but there are plenty of growers hitting the 80 to 85 bu/ac mark. “It’s often almost double what we see in spring canola.”

In this report Moran and RealAgriculture’s Bernard Tobin check out a Middlesex County field in full bloom. In the video, Moran looks at the keys to growing winter canola in Ontario as well as the challenges and marketing opportunities it presents for growers.

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