The Great Oilseed from the North: Celebrating Innovations in Canola

Feb 14, 2019

With rhythmic, golden fields carpeting huge swaths of the Canadian Prairies every summer, it’s tough to imagine a time before canola dominated the landscape. However, just a few decades ago, canola existed only in science labs and grew on test plots.

Fast forward to 2018, and canola has become one of the world's most important oilseed crops and the most profitable commodity for Canadian farmers. With the incredible economic and scientific strides taking place, we thought it was a perfect time to look back at canola’s dramatic rise on Canadian farms.

Innovations in Canola

Early 1900s – Where it all began
The origins of canola can be traced back to Canada’s immigration boom at the beginning of the 20th century. Rapeseed, canola’s closest ancestor, was brought to North America by European and Asian settlers attempting to bring a piece of home with them to a strange new land.

 

1930s to 60s – Momentum builds
Rapeseed was grown on a small scale in Western Canada, and saw its popularity take off during World War II as the country rushed to meet the urgent demand for industrial lubricants.

 

Mid 1970s – Canola is born
As demand continued to increase after the war and consumers looked for healthier oil alternatives to cook with, the ag and science industries came together to take advantage of this incredible opportunity to develop something better.

 

Mid 1970s – Canola is born
As demand continued to increase after the war and consumers looked for healthier oil alternatives to cook with, the ag and science industries came together to take advantage of this incredible opportunity to develop something better.

Canada oil, or canola for short, is the world’s only made in Canada crop and was developed by scientific researchers and producers from Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada and the University of Manitoba in the 1970s using traditional plant breeding techniques. Canola offered a fresh alternative to the market that both grew well on the Canadian Prairies and proved resistant to weeds and the unforgiving climate.

 

1990s – Big things happen
As canola gained popularity on Canadian farm operations over the 80s and 90s, researchers remained busy behind the scenes creating an even better seed and plant.

Genuity® Roundup Ready® canola was first introduced to the marketplace in the mid-90s. This revolutionary technology provided canola growers with unprecedented weed control, higher yields and helped start an acreage explosion of canola across Western Canada. Simply put, this new canola trait changed the course (and the literal landscape) of Canadian agriculture.

 

2000s – Farms expand and create new challenges for the industry
Ever-increasing farm size makes it more challenging to get across every acre and the reduced cost of glyphosate makes it more economical to target more challenging weeds. Canola is a natural crop to meet the demand for greater diversification and effective, sustainable use of our land and resources.

 

2000 to present day – Improvements are constant
As new hybrids were introduced, enhancements were made every growing season, which included improvements in: disease resistance, pod shatter tolerance, standability, different maturity ratings, and heat and drought tolerance.

As the hybrids improved, so did the profitability of growing canola, and producers across Canada took advantage of the opportunity in larger and larger numbers.

 

2018 – Canola is king
According to the Canola Council of Canada, Canadian-grown canola contributes $26.7 billion to the Canadian economy each year, including more than 250,000 jobs and $11.2 billion in wages.

 

The exciting future – Canola’s next generation
Farmers now have access to a new revolutionary canola system – TruFlex™ canola with Roundup Ready® Technology. The new TruFlex™ canola trait gives farmers improved control of tough weeds (24 more weeds than Genuity Roundup Ready canola), greater flexibility in spray rates and timing*, and higher yield potential through genetics and crop safety*.

Staying true to canola’s innovative roots, TruFlex canola is specifically designed to grow on almost any acre in Western Canada and will represent another huge stride forward in this resilient oilseed’s rich history.

 

To learn more about canola’s exciting future, visit TruFlex.ca.

________________________________________

* When compared to Genuity® Roundup Ready® canola.