Wheat is still on hold, but combines are rolling on canola fields near Preston.
The 2019 wheat harvest is still on hold until the crop and land dry out from persistent spring rains in May and June in Pratt County. But on June 20, a combine was harvesting near Preston and a crop was coming in - canola.
A canola field at NE 60th Street and NE 60th Avenue tested at 10 percent moisture level Thursday and that is dry enough to harvest, said combine driver Skylar Stalcup.
The harvest crew had been ready and waiting for the crop to dry out for several days. They took a sample to the Penalosa Elevator and the test came back 10 percent moisture, the level necessary to harvest.
Combines used to harvest canola have to have a special header to pickup the crop. Some combine adjustments have to be made to accommodate canola because it has a very small seed. Canola is swathed and put in wind rows so it can dry out. It usually takes about a week before it can be harvested but it took a little longer this year because of all the rain.
Once it reaches that 10 percent moisture level, it can be harvested. Any higher moisture content and the farmer can be docked, said Tony Loehr, grain originator for Skyland Grain at Cunningham.
Unlike wheat that can be taken to any grain elevator in the area, only the Penalosa elevator, a Skyland facility, northeast of Cunningham takes canola in this area, Loehr said.
Canola harvest usually starts the first part of June but harvest this year was delayed, just like wheat, because of all the rain.
Loehr said the number of canola acres has been down the past couple of years. There are only about a dozen canola farmers in the area. The Penalosa elevator ships out the crop by truck about as fast as it comes in. The canola is hauled to Northern Sun, an ADM facility in Goodland facility, where it is shipped out to various processing facilities.
Farmers have been planting canola in the Pratt County area for about eight years. A bushel weighs 50 pounds and at the close of the canola market on June 20, the price per bushel was $5.65, Loehr said.
Because the number of canola acres is much lower than wheat, the canola harvest doesn’t last nearly as long as wheat harvest.
Canola is usually planted in September just before wheat is put in. It produces a bright yellow bloom that makes it an easy crop to identify.
According to the canolagrowers.com website, canola oil comes from the canola seed. It has the lowest amount of saturated fat of any leading oil in the supermarket. It contains monounsaturated fat and omega-3 fatty acid making it one of the healthiest products to consume.
Canola oil has both edible and non-edible uses. Edible uses include margarine, salad dressings, coffee whiteners, cake mixes, fried snack foods, shortening, cookies, cooking sprays, creamers, crackers, breads and mayonnaise.
Non-edible uses include anti-static for paper and plastic wrap, industrial lubricants, dust suppressants, biodiesel, printing inks, cosmetics: lip gloss, lipstick, creams, shampoo, soaps, massage oils, sunscreen, suntan oil, toothpaste, pesticides, fungicides, herbicides, insecticides, oiled fabrics, plasticizers, bio-plastic, softening agent for applying plastic casings, window panes, mold releaser in metal fabrication.
Canola meal, the leftover product when oil has been extracted from the seed, is very high in protein and is an excellent food supplement for many animals. Canola meal can be used in livestock feed, cat, dog and other pet food, poultry feed, fish feed and fertilizer (a soil nutrient that is particularly good for potatoes and golf course greens.)