Is canola the same as
No. Canola was bred from rapeseed, but
their chemical compositions and nutritional profiles are very
different. Canola has much lower levels of glucosinolates (which
give mustard and rapeseed their sharp taste) and licosenic and
erucic acids (two fatty acids not essential for human
To be called canola anywhere in the world, a
plant must have 2% or less erucic acid in the oil and 30 micromoles
per gram or less of the normally measured glucosinolates in the
What does canola look
If you've driven through the Canadian prairies
in summer, you've probably seen fields of canola plants in bloom.
The plants range from 2-6 feet in height and produce yellow
flowers. The flowers produce seed pods about 2 inches long, which
turn brown as they ripen. There are 15-35 seeds in each pod,
and 60-100 pods per plant, depending on the type of canola and the
growing conditions. See canola images.
How is canola grown?
Canola is a cool-season crop and grows
particularly well on the prairies, where cool night temperatures
allow it to recover from hot days and limited amounts of rainfall.
The crop can be produced using the same machinery used to grow and
harvest cereal crops (wheat, oats and barley). This allows farmers
to switch to canola production without a large cash
Two main types of canola are grown - the short
growing season Polish type (Brassica rapa, a brown/yellow seed) and
the longer season Argentine type (Brassica napus, a black seed).
Fields are cultivated, seeded and fertilized. Herbicides/pesticides
may be applied to control insects, weeds and diseases. Canola
requires careful management, and the crop must be closely monitored
for signs of disease.
Seedlings emerge 4-10 days after planting. From
a taproot, bottom leaves form a rosette, which send up a flower
stalk as the plant grows.
Prairie fields are a sea of brilliant yellow
flowers during the flowering stage, which lasts 14-21 days. Flowers
of the Polish type canola are fertilized by wind and the Argentine
type is self-fertilized. Bees pollinate the flowers as they visit
Once the flowers are fertilized, seed pods take
35-45 days to fill. The field is swathed when about half of the
pods have turned from green to yellow or brown. The swathed crop
dries for about 10 days and is then combined. Learn
challenges does canola present to the farmer?
Canola seed is very fine - about the size of a
radish or turnip seed - and it must be planted shallow in a moist
seed bed so the seed can germinate.
Since canola is subject to attack by several
diseases and insects, canola is grown only 1 year in 4 on the same
field. Seed treatment is used to reduce seedling disease and early
flea beetle attacks.
Herbicides are used to control weed growth. All
chemicals used are registered with the federal government and
assessed by the provincial government regarding application. The
registration process is rigorous, takes years of approval and
involves Health and Welfare Canada, Agriculture Canada, Environment
Canada and Fisheries and Oceans Canada, as well as the chemical
Plant breeders continue to develop varieties
with increased resistance to major diseases.
canola go when it leaves the farm?
About 45% of canola production is trucked to
the nearest processor, where the seed is crushed, oil is extracted
and meal is processed into pellets or mash. Plants are located
across Manitoba, Saskatchewan and Alberta. Learn
more about processing.
Seed delivered to a processing plant is graded
according to a strict grading standard established and maintained
by the Canadian Grain Commission. Payment to the farmer is based on
grade - Canada No. 1 Canola to a sample grade.
About 75% of canola seed, oil and meal produced
in Canada is exported to destinations such as the United States,
Japan, Mexico, and China. Learn more about markets.
Who uses canola
oil and canola products?
Canadians are the largest per capita consumers
of canola oil foodstuffs in the world. Canola oil is renowned for
its nutritional and
qualities and is used in 80% of the salad oil market,
56% of the shortening market and 42% of the margarine market.
Canola oil is also used in deep frying, baking, sandwich spreads,
coffee whiteners and creamers. Consumer products containing canola
carry the canola flower logo.
Canola oil is also used in cosmetics, printing
inks, suntan oils, oiled fabrics, plasticizers, plastic wraps,
pesticides and industrial lubricants. Research is underway to
discover other uses such as diesel fuel and industrial oils.
Canola meal is used as fertilizer and as high protein feed for livestock,
poultry and pets.
"solvent free" canola oil? What are its advantages and
disadvantages, including health and cost aspects?
"Solvent free" canola oil is also known as
Expeller, first press, or pure press oil. The solvent called hexane
is not used during the extraction process. Learn more.
Cold-pressing is a traditional method of
removing oil. The seeds are not heated before, during or after the
pressing process. Instead, seeds are mechanically pressed at a slow
pace to limit friction and avoid elevating temperatures above 60°C.
The color, taste, and odour are much more pronounced. Learn more.
Cold-pressed oils are usually sold in
health-food stores, and usually cost more than refined oils.
They have a higher content of antioxidant (Vitamin E), which
inhibits the absorption of cholesterol, and a significantly lower
content of trans fatty acids.
Despite these definite benefits, no regulation
protects the Canadian consumer against oils falsely labelled
How is canola oil
First the canola seeds are rolled or flaked to
rupture the cells and make the oil easier to extract. Next the
seeds are cooked and mildly pressed to remove some of the oil and
compress the seeds into large chunks. The oil collected through
this mechanical stage is marketed as expeller or first-press
The oil extracted during each step is combined
and then processed for different product uses. Different treatments
are used to process salad oils, margarine and shortenings. Learn more.