Ranking second in the world in terms of production after Canada, canola cultivation is a significant industry in Australia. Canola is cultivated primarily for its oil, which is used in different applications like cooking oil, margarine, and biodiesel. In Australia, canola is typically grown in the southern regions which are characterised by a cooler climate which is more suitable for the crop.
The first trial of canola cultivation was conducted in Victoria in the 1960s which marks the introduction of canola cultivation the Australia. Ever since the crop was first grown commercially in the early 1970s in New South Wales, canola cultivation expanded across the country. Canola is now grown in all states and territories of Australia, with a majority of production in Victoria, New South Wales, and Western Australia.
Typically, canola is planted in autumn or winter and harvested in late spring or early summer. Canola crop requires moderate rainfall and well-drained soil, coupled with high-quality seed, adequate fertilisers, and pest management strategies.
A member of the Brassicaceae family, canola is an essential crop including other crops like broccoli, cauliflower, and mustard. Grown mostly as a rotation crop, canola helps enhance soil health and minimise the scope of pests and diseases. This high-yielding crop comes in modern varieties that have been developed to be more resistant to pests, diseases, and environmental stresses.
In Australia, canola is cultivated on over 2 million hectares of land and the industry worth is approximately $2 billion annually, supporting around 20,000 jobs across the country. The majority of canola produced in the country is exported, Japan, China, and the European Union being the major markets.
The introduction of new varieties and enhanced agronomic practices increased the canola production in Australia over the years. There has been a growing interest in the production of genetically modified (GM) canola in Australia in recent years. These varieties of canola are herbicide-resistant and can help reduce the use of chemical herbicides and enhance crop yields. That said, the use of genetically modified crops concerns the potential impact on the environment and human health which is why the cultivation of genetically modified canola crops is restricted in some states currently; Western Australia being the only state to allow its cultivation without any restrictions.
Factors Responsible for Canola Cultivation
Also known as oilseed rape, the canola crop is a versatile crop cultivated for its oil-rich seeds and nutritious leaves.
- Soil Preparation: Canola cultivation requires well-drained, fertile soil with a pH of 6-7.5. Before planting, the soil should be ploughed, tilled, and fertilised thoroughly with nutrients like nitrogen, phosphorous, and potassium.
- Seed Quality: For a good canola crop yield, planting high-quality seeds is essential. The seeds should be genetically pure, disease-free and should have a high germination rate. Farmers should ensure that they plant certified seeds from reputable seed companies.
- Planting Time: Fall or early spring is the ideal time to plant canola when soil temperatures are cool. This allows the crop to establish a healthy root system before the onset of summer heat. Additionally, planting the crop at the right depth is essential to ensuring optimal germination.
- Pest Management: Canola crops are resistant to damage from pests such as flea beetles, aphids, and cutworms. To prevent crop damage and enhance yield losses, farmers need to implement effective pest management strategies. This may include using insecticides, crop rotation, and planting resistant varieties.
- Weed Control: For nutrients, water, and sunlight, weeds can contend with canola plants, minimising output. Therefore, it is essential for farmers to implement effective weed control strategies like pre-emergent herbicides, mechanical cultivation, and crop rotation to reduce weed pressure.
- Fertiliser Application: To grow and produce a high canola yield, canola plants require adequate nutrients like nitrogen, phosphorous, and potassium. Applying the right type of fertilisers in the right amount will ensure optimal plant growth and development.
- Weather Conditions: Like every other crop, weather conditions like temperature, rainfall, and sunlight impact canola crop yield greatly. Canola as we know grows best in moderate temperatures with adequate moisture and sunlight and factors like drought, heatwaves, and heavy rains can impact the crop yield negatively.
- Harvesting: To maximise canola crop yield, proper harvesting techniques are a must. Farmers should ensure that the crop is harvested at the right time when the seeds are perfectly mature and dry. At the same time, the use of proper equipment is a must that would avoid damaging the plants and seeds during harvest.
Implementing effective strategies ensures optimal canola crop yields. To know about the popular strategies that have benefitted many canola-cultivating farmers in Australia, refer to the extensive farmer database at KG2 Australia. We own the largest independent farmer database that allows farmers and industries to leverage the country’s most comprehensive agribusiness database. Contact us for more information!