Kearny County farmer takes a chance with canola

5/18/2013 10:15 AM
By Associated Press

LAKIN, Kan. (AP) — A Kansas farmer whose bright yellow crop has caught the eyes of travelers in Kearny County says his peers should branch out.

Fred Ritsema has been growing 125 acres of canola on land between Deerfield and Lakin. The crop has been in bloom since last week and will be ready for harvest in about a month, The Garden City Telegram ( reported.

Ritsema used to live in Holland and grew the crop — used to make canola oil — there. When he moved to Kansas in 1997, he decided to try his luck with the state's soil.

Because the drought has made growing corn and alfalfa difficult in recent years, Ritsema thinks more Kansas farmers should try canola, which is a winter crop.

"This has gotten a lot of farmers' attention. I think in the near future more farmers will be turning to winter crops instead of summer crops," he said.

Ritsema said canola could be significantly more profitable than wheat.

"The price is close to twice as much as wheat. The profits could be twice as high," he said.

Dale Kuhn, from Kuhn Harvesting, said Ritsema's canola crop will be the first one he's harvested in Kansas; he's done it before in Texas.

"I would think that it will gain some strength as we go on here. It's just going to take some time. It's moving steadily north all the time," he said.

To harvest canola, the crop is bound when the seed pods are starting to dry down. It takes five to seven days for the crop to be durable, Kuhn said. Then, a combine picks the rows and knocks the seeds out of the pods.

The crop survived the recent cold and snow, Kuhn said.

"We don't know how harvest will go. But now it looks good," he said.


Information from: The Garden City (Kan.) Telegram,

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