Kay and I were riding our bikes in the wonderful spring weather recently and kept coming across these huge fields of yellow flowers in central and western Oklahoma. At first I thought they might be sunflowers but on closer inspection they were not something I had seen before. Kay posted a picture from her phone on Facebook and within a few minutes a friend told her they were canola fields. Humm, I don’t remember hearing about those as a crop in Oklahoma.
So when I got back to our Edmond office I did a little Google research. It seems canola is a plant whose seeds can be used to make canola oil for cooking and industrial uses. Canola was first found in colder northern climates such as Canada, but has been bred over the years to tolerate our much warmer and dryer Oklahoma climate. Oklahoma State University has a page on their web site devoted to canola oil production and they encourage wheat farmers to use it as a rotational crop. It seems that Oklahoma wheat farmers can use their existing equipment with minor adjustments to plant, grow, fertilize and harvest canola seeds. The rotation of these crops helps improve the soil for wheat and gives the land a rest from pesticides and disease used in wheat production. Canola production is up substantially in Oklahoma in just the past couple of years, hence the huge fields of beautiful yellow flowers we see across our wonderful State this spring.