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:

37 comments:

  1. I didn't know any of that! Well except there is Canola oil to eat but I didn't know anything about the plant, the two kind or that its so regulated... Very interesting...thanks for sharing!

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  2. Cool! I've never seen canola before.

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  3. Now that is some really cool information! I love knowing about things they plant around here too..seems they are always coming up with something a little different!

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  4. The first time I saw canola flowers was on the prairies of North Dakota. It was jaw-dropping to see so much uninterrupted yellow.
    Love your tutorial. I'm nerdy that way. I had no idea there were two kinds, nor did I know that carrots needed to be pollinated to go to seed.

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  5. That stuff is gorgeous. Logic says canola oil comes from canola, but I never knew what a canola was...until now. Does it have a fragrance?

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  6. very interesting! I agree, so pretty.

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  7. Gee, it looks a lot like mustard. I wonder if it makes a good cover crop. I wonder if goats like it? :)

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  8. 7MSN: It does have a fragrance. Sitting on my counter, it is a bit sweet and quite noticeable. Driving past the fields, wow - you really know it - a bit of a nightmare for allergy sufferers.
    :-)

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  9. Hi Marigold - I read that it is used as a cover crop, but again, highly managed. In some areas of Oregon, it can only be grown as a cover crop if it is dug under prior to blooming.

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  10. Very cool info! I didn't know any of it!

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  11. Very interesting info. It does look a lot like mustard. I learned a lot reading your post. Love the color too!

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  12. Wow that looks so cool...Absolutely amazing...never seen anything like it before.

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  13. I wonder how they expect to stop it from escaping and growing wild ..... especially if the bees love it!

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  14. And *that*, Chai Chai, is another problem that I read about - it does escape and it's like a weed. Grows easily, grows everywhere, difficult to eradicate...

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  15. Oh yes! That canola is very pretty. I loved seeing it in the fields when I was your way the other weekend. Of course, it wasnt nearly that tall. Nor did I get to experience the aroma.
    It sure looks very pretty in that vase of yours. I know just where those are setting. :-)
    I was going to say the same thing...how do they keep it from spreading???

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  16. I didn't know any of that, and you are right, it is very pretty!
    We hauled a load of "canola meal" our of ND a couple weeks ago to a dairy in ID. I'm assuming it was like soy bean meal which is the by-product of squeezing all the oils out of the beans for other products.
    What were you doing in Japan and Germany? Sounds like a fascinating blog post...?

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  17. way cool.....a blog that is both beautiful and informative.....(kind of like the smart homecoming queen in high school, huh?)

    thanks for sharing! wish there was a way to share the scent!

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  18. I thought that canola came from rapeseed, but they renamed it because, you know, rapeseed just sounds bad.

    Maybe that's the yellow stuff I've been seeing growing by the freeway- all this time I thought it was mustard...

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  19. We call rape(rape seed oil) in the UK. Pretty to look at but awful if you're a hayfever sufferer. I'm not but it made my eyes itch.

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  20. Hi Sarah - my family lives in Germany, so I travel to see them every few years. Japan was a business trip for my husband where I was fortunate enough to tag along!

    Hey Paula - you're absolutely right. Canola does indeed come from rapeseed. The negative connotation associated with the word "rape", however, made producers come up with the new "Canola" name!

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  21. Thank you that was very interesting.
    It's a beautiful plant

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  22. That picture with the canola in the background on the hill looks like a painting! The yellow is just beautiful.

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  23. Hmmmmmm, After seeing the Documentary 'The Future of Food" I am a bit concerned. Monsanto evils. Watch the movie and decide for yourself. I am concerned for the person who owns the property as it is not their Canola but Monsanto's. If it were me I would destroy it and plant heritage wildflower if not using for anything else. Please understand that I am not trying to bring you down on the beauty of the picture you took. It is beautiful. After you watch the Documentary you will see why I am concerned. Monsanto is EVIL! Control the food Control the people.
    Please know I love your blog and this is a lovely post as all your post are. Just concerned about this crop.
    Peace and have a great weekend.

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  24. Just wanted to add the reason it is hard to eridicate is because it is a GM Genetically Modified. It is has been modified by Monsanto to resist the evil Roundup. It is resisant against herbicides so when the farmers who grow it spray for all other weeds only the Canola is left standing. While the Bees love it is not good for them and may be contributing to the decline of the bees. This is spread by trucks taking to market dropping of the trucks as well as cross pollination and that makes it Monsanto's as they have a patent on it. They will sue all property owners who try to sell or save seed or feed to animals who do not have a paid for license from them to use. Please watch
    'Food Inc.", 'The Future of Food", 'Botany of Desire" just to name a few of the Documentaries.

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  25. very interesting, I love the pictures and, having the info to go with it is wonderful.
    Jenny

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  26. Really interesting! Thanks for posting it. I had no idea these things were so regulated.

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  27. Hi Barbara - Thanks for your comments. It is my understanding that not all canola (rapeseed) is owned by Monsanto and I am not sure of the origin of this particular seed variety growing in our area. You are correct, though, Monsanto does own a GM (roundup resistant) variety of rapeseed, just like they do for Soybeans, Corn and Cotton.
    Monsanto scares the crap out of me.

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  28. Not all canola is genetically engineered, and Monsanto does produce non-GE seeds. So, while it might not be GE, it could very well be Monsanto seed.

    DNA tests proved that five out of six tested varieties of non-GE canola grown in Maine in 2004 were cross pollinated with GE canola. The seed from those plants were contaminated and could not be planted.

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  29. Monsanto is definitely evil for a lot of different reasons.

    All the more reason to grow your own food, if you can.

    For what's it's worth, I'm not too crazy about any of the big agribusinesses, either. Probably you aren't, either.

    Sure glad I don't own stock in any of these guys...

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  30. Tina from TillamookMay 9, 2010 at 8:04 AM

    I have driven by that beautiful golden hillside several times lately, and wondered what it was...Thanks for solving the mystery! Love your blog - so fun to learn new things.

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  31. Well, I do declare, I learned something new. Beautiful pictures. Interesting that you opened a can of worms! :)

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  32. Canola is one of the few common foods that I have never seen. Thanks for the pics, and starting the lively discussion!

    Carrie

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  33. I didn't know any of this about Canola, either.

    It is pretty, though ;-)

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  34. Worms are good....both in the soil and conversation!! :)

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  35. I realize this blog hasn't been active for a while - too bad, I'm loving following along on the journey :( - but I just wanted to give a bit of the history behind canola.

    It was developed at the University of Manitoba in Canada in the 70s:

    http://www.gov.mb.ca/trade/globaltrade/agrifood/commodity/canola.html

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    1. Hi kjd, thanks for your response and the link you shared. The history of rapeseed/canola is interesting. Also interesting is how the biotech/genetic science aspect of it is referenced in the article - subtly, only as a positive, and with no company names attached.

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