2017 Oklahoma Canola Economics Appear Favorable

Eric A. DeVuyst, Professor and Extension Economist Agricultural Economics

With wheat prices in the low $3 range and 2017 July futures suggesting sub-$4 new crop prices, Oklahoma producers are looking for an alternative winter crop. Winter canola may provide a more economically-attractive crop. Additionally, there are several agronomic benefits to rotating canola with wheat including a 10-15% wheat yield bump following canola.

Historically, Oklahoma canola prices have ranged from $1.16 to $5.15 over wheat prices and average $3.68 over wheat price. However, since 2013 canola prices have ranged from $1.16 to $3.15 over wheat prices, suggesting weakening basis for canola. State-average canola yields have ranged from 12 bushels in 2014 to 31 bushels in 2010. USDA National Agricultural Statistics Service has not published the 2015-2016 crop yields yet; however 2016 canola yields are expected to top the 2010 yield. Since 2009, canola yields average 3 bushels less than state-average wheat yields.

I recently prepared budgets for canola and wheat to compute breakeven prices for both crops. Starting with canola with a yield goal of 30 bushels (1500 pounds), a producer can expect to invest about $210 per acre for seed, chemical, fuel, fertilizer, harvest and hauling costs. Realized yields will vary relative to the yield goal. In table 1, the top row of yields represent realized yields and the left column are prices and returns to land, labor, and management in the body of the table. If a producer harvests 30 bushels of canola, the breakeven price is $7.01 per bushel (bottom row). At 35 bushels harvested, canola breakeven drops to $6.07. Given that 2017 canola prices contract are around $6.25-$6.50, positive returns are possible if above average yields are realized. Losses ramp up quickly when yields fail to reach goals. It also important to note that these breakeven prices do not consider the positive impact on wheat yields for one to two years after canola.

Oklahoma wheat returns for 2017 are less favorable. For a wheat yield of 33 bushel (3 more than the canola yield goal in the example above), a producer can expect to spend around $165 per acre on seed, chemical, fuel, fertilizer, harvest and hauling costs. If the goal of 33 bushels is realized, the breakeven price is $5.01 per bushel. Futures markets suggest a price of about $3.75 for July 2017 wheat. At $3.75, a producer would need about 46 bushels of harvest wheat to breakeven when fertilizing for a 33-bushel yield. At this point, $5 wheat price for 2017 is well outside most forecast ranges, making wheat very unattractive. Table 2 reports returns to land, labor, and management when fertilizing for 33 bushels and various combinations of realized yields and prices. Positive returns to land, labor and management are only realized for the cells in the lower right-hand corner. These breakeven prices are computed for grain-only wheat. There may be positive returns to wheat stockers in 2016-2017, but producers should consider price risk management to avoid large stock return losses.

In summary, winter crops returns will be tight in 2016-2017 but it appears that canola is more likely than wheat to generate positive returns to land, labor, and management. Since individual producer costs will vary, producers should consider their own costs and revenue projections before making planting decisions. Producers are encouraged to contact their local extension educator for more information on canola and wheat budgets.




Winter Canola Schools Agenda

2016 Winter Canola Summer Schools:

8:00-9:00 Registration, Coffee, and Doughnuts

8:45-9:00 Welcome and Introductions

9:00-9:15 Nutrient recommendations and in-furrow applications- Drs. Brian Arnall/Joy Abit

9:15-9:30 Understanding tillage for canola production- Dr. Jason Warren/

9:30-9:45 Insect management and preparing for next year- Dr. Tom Royer

9:45 -10:00 Disease management and emerging diseases in canola- Dr. John Damicone

10:00-10:15 Break

10:15-10:30 Managing weeds and herbicide resistance using canola rotations- Mr. Josh Bushong/Mr. Heath Sanders

10:30-10:45 Selecting varieties for individual locations and production system- Dr. Josh Lofton

10:45 -11:30 Grower experience for production inputs and marketing- Mr. Brent Rendel

11:30-11:50 Economics and marketing for canola- Dr. Eric Devuyst

11:50-12:00 Great Plains Canola Association and Oklahoma Oilseed Commission Updates- Dr. Ron Sholar

12:00 Lunch provided by Dekalb Seeds

Planter calibration clinic following lunch

**2.5 CCA CEU will be available at this event**


Great Plains Canola

Oklahoma Oilseed Commission


DeKalb- Canola

Rubisco seeds

CROPLAN by Winfield 


OSU Entomology Update: Sugarcane aphids and worms on the rise.

Jessica Pavlu, Graduate Research Assistant, and Tom A. Royer, Extension Entomologist

On July 12, 2016, we found sugarcane aphids in a sorghum field in Caddo county that had exceeded treatment thresholds. Jerry Goodson, Extension Assistant in Altus, reported finding a sparse colony of sugarcane aphids in Tillman county last week. Most of the sugarcane aphid infestations that we have observed so far are located south of Interstate 40.  We will continue to provide weekly reports of sugarcane activity throughout the rest of the summer growing season.

Oklahoma’s “Sugarcane Aphid Team” (which also includes Dr. Ali Zarrabi, Mr. Kelly Seuhs, Dr. Kristopher Giles from the Department of Entomology and Plant Pathology, USDA researchers Dr. Norm Elliott and Dr. Scott Armstrong, and Dr. Josh Lofton and Dr. Tracy Beedy from the Department of Plant and Soil Sciences), is conducting research to identify effective insecticides, resistant sorghum varieties, best cultural practices to avoid sugarcane aphid, and develop improved sampling and decision-making rules for treatment thresholds.

When scouting, make sure you are finding sugarcane aphid, as it can be confused with yellow sugarcane aphid.  The sugarcane aphid (Fig.1) is light yellow, with dark, paired “tailpipes” called cornicles and dark “feet” called tarsi.  The yellow sugarcane aphid (Fig. 2) is bright yellow with many hairs on its body and no extended cornicles.

Figure 1. Sugarcane aphid
Figure 2. Yellow Sugarcane Aphid


Currently the suggested treatment threshold for sugarcane aphid is to treat when 20-30 percent of the plants are infested with one or more established colonies of sugarcane aphids. An established colony is an adult (winged or wingless) accompanied by one or more nymphs (Fig 3).

Figure 3. Sugarcane Aphid Colony


Two insecticides, Sivanto 200 SL, and Transform WD, provide superior control of sugarcane aphid.  Sivanto can be applied at 4-7 fluid ounces per acre.  Transform WG can be applied at 0.75-1.5 oz. per acre.  It is important to achieve complete coverage of the crop in order to obtain the most effective control. Consult CR-7170, Management of Insect and Mite Pests in Sorghum http://pods.dasnr.okstate.edu/docushare/dsweb/HomePage  for additional information on sorghum insect pest management.  

Sorghum “Whorlworm” and “Headworm” Decisions

This week, I received several reports of “worms” feeding in the whorls of sorghum (Fig 4) which I identified as fall armyworms. I rarely recommend that a producer treat for fall armyworms infesting whorl stage sorghum.  Why? because available research suggests that under rain-fed production, whorl feeding rarely caused enough yield loss to warrant treatment costs, AND more importantly, most insecticide applications provide poor control.  The poor control is a result of difficult delivery of the insecticide into the whorl allowing the caterpillars to avoid contact.  However, recent unpublished research shows that some new insecticides may provide effective control of fall armyworm in the whorl, so it is time to revisit my recommendations.

Whorlworm damage
Figure 4. Whorlworm damage


Recent unpublished research results conducted in irrigated sorghum out of Lubbock suggest that Prevathon®, Besiege®, and Belt® can provide acceptable control of the caterpillars in the whorl (even large caterpillars). Therefore, the second of the two reasons I listed above may no longer be true; they can be controlled.  However, 1: these products were tested on irrigated sorghum 2: they are quite expensive 3: some products may flare sugarcane aphids and spidermites and 4: WE STILL DON’T KNOW HOW THEY IMPACT YIELD, thus, we are still “guessing” with regard to return on investment for control.

How has this information changed my recommendations?  Keep in mind that the research in Texas was conducted in irrigated sorghum with a very high yield potential. Since Oklahoma growers typically grow rain-fed sorghum which has lower yield potential, my suggestion is to examine 30 plants (5 consecutive plants in 6 different locations) and split a few stalks to see where the panicle is located.  If the panicles are close to emerging (boot stage), my “best guess” is to consider treating if 70% or more of the whorls are infested and there are an average of 1-2 live caterpillars present.  Under this scenario, you would be protecting physical damage to the emerging head. 

On choosing an insecticide I offer some things to consider. 1: the effective products may or may not be available. 2: some have the potential to flare sugarcane aphids and spidermites.  3: they are all expensive.  Belt is still available for use, but EPA recently requested that Bayer voluntarily remove it from the market. Bayer refused, and asked for an administrative hearing.  On June 1, an administrative law judge upheld EPA’s decision to cancel registration of Belt. Bayer is appealing and is scheduled to receive another review from the Environmental Appeals Board before July 6. If EPA prevails in the appeal process, Belt will no longer be available. However, Bayer says that Belt can still be sold, purchased and used during the appeals process.

I have little information on how Belt affects sugarcane aphids or spidermites. Besiege is a mixture of the active ingredient in Prevathon with an added pyrethroid.  Research in Lubbock suggests that spidermites may flare with Besiege. We also know that any pyrethroid will flare sugarcane aphid. Prevathon has not shown the propensity to flare either spidermites or sugarcane aphids.

We are attempting to obtain data on the effectiveness of, and yield returns obtained from Prevathon to control fall armyworm in the whorl. Until I have more data, I can only say that a producer should carefully consider a decision to control “whorlworms”. The jury is still out as to whether controlling them is economically justified.

With regard to headworms, we have well-designed decision making capability coupled with solid treatment thresholds. USDA and University scientists developed a computer-based program that can calculate an economic threshold for headworms (Fig.5) and provide a simple sampling plan that tells the producer if threshold is reached (Fig.6).

Figure 5. Sorghum Headworm


Figure 6. Bucket sampling for sorghum headworm


Called the Headworm Sequential Sampling and Decision Support System (http://entoplp.okstate.edu/shwweb/index.htm), it uses input on the plant population, the crop’s worth and the control costs to calculate a treatment threshold.

Now, prepare for the tricky part! If we only had to consider one pest, I would advise selecting the insecticide that works best on that pest.  However, we now have to consider sugarcane aphid in all of our sorghum pest management decisions.  In my opinion, if sugarcane aphid is already starting, a producer must consider using either Transform or Sivanto. That narrows the choice options for combining another product to control headworms because pyrethroids could flare the aphids.

I have reviewed data from multiple years of insecticide trials throughout the SE US. The data suggests that products containing chlorpyrifos provide spotty control of headworms. Data that I have reviewed from other insecticide trials suggests that Prevathon and Blackhawk provide excellent control of headworms and Diamond® was also effective on headworms.  For information on spray mix compatibility, talk to the local sales representatives for the products you have chosen.

Consult CR-7170, Management of Insect and Mite Pests in Sorghum http://pods.dasnr.okstate.edu/docushare/dsweb/HomePage  for more information.



Preliminary results for the winter canola variety trials- overall summary

It is important to remember these are preliminary results and numbers may change between this post and the final publication. Additionally, oil content will be available at a later date. Please remember to keep checking in for other variety trial locations and updated information.  Within the tables, the highlighted sections indicate a non-significant difference between the top yielding varieties and the bolded numbers indicate the highest yielding varieties at each location. 




Preliminary canola variety results: Perkins

It is important to remember these are preliminary results and numbers may change between this post and the final publication. Additionally, oil content will be available at a later date. Please remember to keep checking in for other variety trial locations and updated information.

Results from this trial were replicated 5 times in conventional tillage systems and 5 times in no-tillage system.  All methods for management were in accordance to the particular system type.  

Conventional Tillage:






Preliminary Canola Variety Results: El Reno

It is important to remember these are preliminary results and numbers may change between this post and the final publication. Additionally, oil content will be available at a later date. Please remember to keep checking in for other variety trial locations and updated information.

Grain yields from the OSU conventional winter canola variety test at El Reno, OK.  All yields were adjusted to 10% moisture.
Grain yields from OSU glyphosate resistant winter canola variety trial at El Reno, OK.  All yields were adjusted to 10% moisture.

Preliminary Canola Variety Results: Kingfisher

It is important to remember these are preliminary results and numbers may change between this post and the final publication.  Additionally, oil content will be available at a later date.  Please remember to keep checking in for other variety trial locations and updated information. 

Preliminary grain yields for the OSU conventional winter canola variety trial at Kingfisher, OK.  All yields are adjusted to 10% moisture content.


Preliminary grain yields for the OSU glyphosate resistant winter canola variety trials in Kingfisher, OK.  All yields adjusted to 10% moisture content.