Some Willamette Valley farmers can now grow canola. The crop has been controversial in Oregon. That’s because organic seed farmers fear new pests and cross-pollination.
Growing canola had previously been banned from the Willamette Valley. Starting now, valley farmers will be able to grow a total of 2,500 acres of canola a year.
And only in an area outside a protected zone. That’s away from the highest concentration of specialty seed farmers. They worry insects, disease and cross-pollination might soon follow the canola.
Bruce Pokarney is with the Oregon Department of Agriculture. He says the department will enforce management practices, like seed handling and transportation.
“Just a number of things that are really designed to keep canola from spreading into areas where it’s not supposed to be," Pokarney says.
Farmers must also request to grow the crop each year.
Canola seeds can be used in renewable fuels. It’s also becoming a popular rotation crop in the Northwest. Both Washington and Idaho have seen increases in canola production in the past several years.
Copyright 2013 Northwest Public Radio