Winter canola is a new crop for farmer Kalin Flournoy, who lives east of Roosevelt, Okla. Flournoy planted his second canola crop last fall 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. Oil mill staff members have been promoting the new Southern Plains crop for several years. Heath Sanders, an agronomist with the Cooperative specializing in winter canola production, called Flournoy.
"Heath answered a lot of questions for me about canola," Flournoy says. "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.”
Flournoy says farmers in the Roosevelt area of mid-Kiowa County have received a little rain in the last few weeks. "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, the crop takes advantage of all the water it receives, even small amounts at a time."
He planted Pioneer Roundup Ready canola this year.
The Flournoy family has approximately 500 acres of crop land. 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 to worry about. Finding canola has been a big score for us. It helps to have two different crops growing in cooler weather with less heat and moisture loss."
Flournoy runs a highly-diversified operation. 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 in 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 back-grounding operation in southeastern Oklahoma.
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," he said. "It’s 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, too.
A new crop for the Southern Plains, winter canola now is planted in approximately 275,000 Oklahoma farm acres this year. Kansas has about 34,000 acres and Texas farmers planted about 22,000 acres.