What is Canola?

Canada's greatest agricultural success story

In just a few decades, canola has become one of the world's most important oilseed crops and the most profitable commodity for Canadian farmers.

The plant belongs to the Brassica genus, the botanical family that includes cauliflower and cabbages.

The name canola is a contraction of Canada and ola, meaning oil. To earn the name canola, products must meet an internationally regulated standard.

The world's healthiest vegetable oil is extracted from the seeds of the canola plant. The seeds are 44% oil - more than double the oil content of soybeans. In addition to its heart-healthy properties, canola oil is renowned for its fine culinary qualities.

High-protein meal is produced from the other 56% of the canola seed. Canola meal is an excellent animal feed for cattle, poultry, swine and fish. When fed to dairy cows, it can increase milk production by one litre per day. Researchers have also developed a protein isolate that could one day be used for human nutrition.

Biofuel feedstock is one of the newer uses for canola. It's the feedstock of choice for Canadian-produced biodiesel because of its exceptional cold weather performance. Compared to fossil diesel, canola biodiesel reduces lifetime greenhouse gas emissions by 90%.

A triumph of innovation

Canola is the world's only "Made in Canada" crop. It was developed by researchers from Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada and the University of Manitoba in the 1970s, using traditional plant breeding techniques.

Today innovation continues to drive the industry. Researchers are exploring new uses for the plant and pushing the boundaries of where canola can be grown. Advances in seed are improving yields, hardiness and profitability while elevating oil and meal to even higher levels of quality.

Learn more about:

The history of canola
Processing canola

FAQs

Official Definition of Canola

To use the name canola, an oilseed plant must meet this internationally regulated standard

"Seeds of the genus Brassica (Brassica napus, Brassica rapa or Brassica juncea) from which the oil shall contain less than 2% erucic acid in its fatty acid profile and the solid component shall contain less than 30 micromoles of any one or any mixture of 3-butenyl glucosinolate, 4-pentenyl glucosinolate, 2-hydroxy-3 butenyl glucosinolate, and 2-hydroxy- 4-pentenyl glucosinolate per gram of air-dry, oil-free solid."