Friday, May 7, 2010
Standing in a field of canola
When I drive out of my small town currently, the color on the hillside to my left is startling:
This crop hasn't grown here before:
It's Canola (Brassica campestris). I have seen fields of this growing in the hills of Germany and in Japan but not in Oregon, yet I never questioned why this would be:
As I've watched this crop develop over the last couple months, I've learned a bit about Canola. Its growth is highly regulated and only since last fall has it been approved to be grown in our area. There are two varieties, canola grown for bio diesel and the type grown for edible oil. The two varieties must be kept separate to prevent cross-pollination and contamination. It is also not allowed to be planted in the same field for more than two years out of five to prevent a serious disease known as "blackleg".
The bees love it and for this reason it is not allowed to be grown in a number of Oregon counties. It is believed to attract bees away from specialty seed crops such as carrots, which require the bees for pollination:
Did you know the name "canola" is derived from the words "Canadian oil, low acid"?
Mostly, I just think it's pretty: