Even in southwest Oklahoma, where the drought is neglecting to leave, the 2013 winter canola crop is in good shape, according to Heath Sanders, field representative for the Great Plains Canola Association.
"I've seen some canola fields looking really good down there and I've seen some stands of winter canola that was a little smaller," he said. "As you get farther southwest, you get more erratic rainfall.
“A little bit farther north and it's more widespread. The big thing now is we do have more moisture than we did last year. That helps buffer the temperature and keeps the plants healthier, even when they are smaller."
Sanders believes Oklahoma has at least 300,000 acres of canola with the rest of the southern Great Plains bringing the total acres to at least 400,000.
"There was a big move in southern Kansas putting in more acres of canola," he said. "There are a lot more acres in southern Kansas this year. So there are definitely more acres there than we had last year."
If you are enjoying reading this article, please check out Southwest Farm Press Daily and receive the latest news right to your inbox.
Sanders thinks the canola acreage this year may be even higher.
"In the counties where farmers had to provide the Risk Management Agency crop insurance office with written agreements, many farmers didn't get them to the agency in time due to the U.S. government shutdown in October," he said. "Growers who want crop insurance next year in counties requiring written agreements need to get started early on their paperwork to avoid such problems until the RMA can approve more counties for regular crop insurance."
With the recent hard freeze in the area and more cold weather coming, Sanders said the canola crop will be entering its dormant phase.
"The crop is much better prepared for cold weather compared to last year," he said. "Planting season in September started out dry, but rains came toward the end of the period to get the crop off to a good start. Traveling across the state, you can see large canola plants growing and in others, the plants are smaller. But the important thing is the crop is off to a good start.
"All in all, from what I've gathered and what I've seen driving across the state, we are in much better shape than last year. It gives me a sign of relief we are setting ourselves up for a good opportunity to make a good crop in the spring."