Drivers stop for photos
Those driving down Sunflower Rd. near 140th Rd. will see two fields of yellow flowers. To the naked eye it merely looks like a stand of brightly colored weeds, but those that look closer can see those weeds are actually planted in rows.
Duane Kirkpatrick has been planting canola for four years in crop rotation preceding wheat. He said it is a growing trend among farmers in southern Kansas and Oklahoma. According to the U.S. Canola Association, there are 1.5 million acres of canola grown in the U.S., mostly in the upper Midwest.
“It cleans up the ground so that wheat thrives,” Kirkpatrick said. “We see eight to 10 bushel more for wheat on average after it follows canola.”
After the flowering stage, the plant will produce pods where the flowers were that hold around 10 seeds. It is harvested mid-June just before wheat. The seeds are then processed to create canola oil or feed.
Kirkpatrick will first swath the plants then follow behind in a combine to remove the seeds from the pods.
Plants grow four feet tall on average, Kirkpatrick said, but this year will only be around three feet tall because of lack of moisture and winter kill.
“It’s not been the best year, but I estimate they’ll be around 30 bushels an acre,” Kirkpatrick said.
In a good year, canola will average between 35 and 40 bushels per acre and be sold for around $10.50 per bushel.
Kirkpatrick said he enjoys growing canola because of the benefits it adds to the soil and the color they add to the countryside.
“Lots of people stop to take photos of them,” he said. “My wife said she sees at least one person a day stop.”