Farmer happy with winter canola crop
Winter canola is a new crop for Kalin Flournoy, a farmer who lives east of Roosevelt, Okla. He planted his second canola crop last year after suffering a lot of hail damage on a "beautiful canola crop" in the spring of 2012.
"Even after all the hail damage," he said, "we still averaged 16 bushels per acre on the crop."
Flournoy was looking for another winter crop to grow with his wheat when he learned about canola. He called the Producers Cooperative Oil Mill in Oklahoma City. PCOM staff have been promoting the new Southern Plains crop for several years now. Flournoy was contacted by Heath Sanders, a PCOM agronomist specializing in winter canola production.
"Heath answered a lot of questions for me about canola," Flournoy remembers. "After we talked on the telephone, he eventually visited me at the farm to help me set up my grain drill to plant the crop. He was really helpful."
Flournoy explained farmers in the Roosevelt area of mid-Kiowa County have received a little rain recently. "The canola crop was growing well before it went into dormancy with cold weather," he said. "It has a long taproot that seeks ground moisture really well. Even with the bad drought we have, the crop takes advantage of all the water it receives, even if it is a small amount at a time."
He has planted Pioneer Roundup Ready canola this year. The Flournoy family has approximately 500 acres of crop land in their farming operation. For the past two years, he has planted about 250 acres of canola on one site and the same amount in wheat on the other side of the farm.
"I just shift sides each year with the two crops," he said.
While cotton production is important to the surrounding farming area, Flournoy isn't optimistic about summer crops.
"With the terrible drought we have here now, summer just brings more heat and dry ground for a farmer to worry about. Finding canola has been a big score for us. It helps us to have two different crops growing in cooler weather with less heat and moisture loss."
Flournoy is highly diversified in his agricultural efforts. His main source of income is farm and ranch real estate. He is a principal broker in Southern Plains Land Company, a real estate company headquartered at Wichita Falls, Texas. "While we have some business in Oklahoma, we concentrate in Texas," he said. "Farmers and ranchers in the major Texas agriculture areas are our main focus."
Flournoy and his family bought their current operation in 2006 after selling a cattle backgrounding operation in southeastern Oklahoma, he said.
He explained he wanted to find a place located halfway between that area and the feedlots in the Texas High Plains. "We found this place for sale and it fits us great," he said. "It is just about halfway between our old stomping grounds and the Dalhart, Texas, area."
Flournoy and his 15-year-old son, Wyatt, do their own farm work, planting crops and harvesting with their own combine. "We bought a draper swather to prepare the canola for harvest and then combined it."
He and his wife, Heather, also have two daughters, Hannah, 13, and Lacy, 11. Their 12-year-old niece, CC, lives with them and helps with farm chores, he said.
A new crop for the Southern Plains, winter canola now is planted in approximately 275,000 Oklahoma farm acres this year. There are about 34,000 acres of the crop in Kansas and about 22,000 acres growing in Texas, too.
Originally created by Kansas State University and Oklahoma State University agronomists to grow in rotation with winter wheat to combat perennial weed problems, canola has taken on a stature of its own. Eagerly sought by processors for its high oil content, about 41 percent of the seed is oil, for healthy cooking oil, canola also is used in biofuels and for livestock feed. Prices paid for canola seed sold at local grain terminals have averaged three to four dollars more per bushel than prices paid for winter wheat.