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Dual-Purpose Canola

Mixed canolage (oat-canola intercrop grown for forage and canola seed) prior to grazing.
Dual purpose canola is the practice of growing early seeded winter canola as both a forage crop and a seed crop. The winter canola may be planted with a companion crop such as spring oats or millet for the purpose of improving the nutritive quality of the forage. The forage harvest, conducted in the late summer or early fall may be conducted by allowing the cattle to graze the canola or swathing and ensiling the canola. Canola tends to be a high protein low fiber feed.

Extension Bulletins on Dual-Purpose Canola

Cover of Dual purpose winter canola in the pacific northwest: forage management.

Dual-Purpose Winter Canola in the Pacific Northwest: Forage Management (Oilseed Series)

As winter canola (Brassica napus) continues to gain acceptance as a viable broadleaf crop in the predominantly cereal rotations of the Pacific Northwest (PNW), dual-purpose winter canola is beginning to gain interest. Not only does canola provide benefits, such as improving weed control, breaking disease and pest cycles, and increasing water infiltration, but Washington State University (WSU) research has also shown increased wheat yields following a canola crop (Hang et al. 2009). As the name suggests, dual-purpose winter canola serves two purposes: fall forage or silage and grain harvest. Canola forage could be advantageous in the inland PNW where late summer and fall pasture is often in short supply. While grown successfully elsewhere (mainly Australia; Kirkegaard et al. 2008), the feasibility of dual-purpose canola in the PNW has not been thoroughly investigated. Our study investigates the effect of different fertilizer rates and timing on forage and grain yield as well as nitrate and sulfur accumulation in winter canola.
Cover of Dual purpose winter canola in the pnw: Silage production.

Dual-purpose Winter Canola in the Pacific Northwest: Silage Production (Oilseed Series)

Winter canola (Brassica napus) is used as a break crop in the primarily cereal grain rotations of the Pacific Northwest (PNW). Research over the last 40 years has largely been focused on grain production. However, renewed interest in using canola as a dual-purpose crop has recently emerged. Work at Washington State University (WSU), the University of Idaho (UI), and in the Southern Great Plains has begun to illustrate the challenges and potential of dual-purpose canola. Canola forage has high protein (15–25%), low fiber, and very high moisture levels (85–90%; Neely et al. 2015). Canola can also accumulate levels of nitrates (Zhang et al. 2005) and sulfur that are toxic to ruminants. Ensiling has been shown to reduce levels of nitrates (Kincaid et al. 2012) and sulfur-containing compounds (Fales et al. 1987; Vipond et al. 1998), and allows forage to be preserved at a relatively high moisture content compared to haying. Unfortunately, the high moisture content of canola can lead to poor fermentation results and high amounts of effluent (an environmental pollutant; McDonald 1981). However, absorbents can be used to reduce the overall moisture of silage, improving fermentation and reducing effluent losses (Fransen and Strubi 1998).
Extension Articles

  • Kincaid, R., K. Johnson, J. Michal, S. Hulbert, W. Pan, J. Burbano, and A. Huisman. 2012. Intercropped Biennial Canola for Silage. WSU Dairy Newsletter 21:01.

CSS Field Day Articles

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Conference Presentations

Peer Reviewed Articles

  • Kincaid, R.L., K.A. Johnson, J.J. Michal, S.H. Hulbert, W.L. Pan, J. Barbano, and A.C. Huisman. 2011. Biennial Canola for Forage and Ecosystem Improvement in Dryland Cropping Systems. Advances in Animal Biosciences 2(2):457.


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