Performance of Winter Canola Varieties

Canola, a member of the mustard family, is primarily grown as an oilseed crop across the Midwestern U.S. and Western Canada. The crop is of interest in our region for providing fuel, feed for livestock, and providing more rotational crop options.

There are spring canola varieties–planted in the spring and harvested in the summer–and winter canola varieties planted in late summer which lie dormant over the winter and are harvested in mid-summer the following year. Winter canola, therefore, has the potential to fit into field rotations with other annual crops such as small grains or annual forages. However, in the Northeast, the challenge with growing winter canola is winter hardiness. Because our region often experiences harsh and volatile winters, these conditions can lead to widespread winterkill.

Seed yields of the 15 different varieties of winter canola we researched. Click on image to enlarge.

To investigate the potential of winter canola performance in our region, we compared 15 different varieties, evaluating yield, oil content, and other parameters. Due to extremely mild conditions during winter 2015-16, all of the canola survived and was harvested.  The highest yielding variety was Mercedes which produced over 2300 lbs. ac-1. Eight of the other varieties performed statistically similar to Mercedes, producing between 1878 and 2169 lbs. ac-1. The droughty conditions experienced throughout last season did not seem to impact canola yields; they averaged over 1800 lbs. ac-1 and test weights averaged 49.5 lbs. bu-1 which is on par with the industry standard test weight of 50 lbs. bu-1. These data suggest that winter canola, when it overwinters in this region, has the potential to provide significant yields and opportunities for crop diversification.

The full research report can be found on our website at: www.uvm.edu/extension/cropsoil/research.

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