Canola is a crop with plants from three to five feet tall that produce pods from which seeds are harvested and crushed to create canola oil and meal. These plants also produce small, yellow flowers, which beautify the environment.
Canola seeds contain about 45 percent oil. This large percentage of oil comes in a small package; canola seeds are similar in size to poppy seeds, though brownish-black in color.
Although they look similar, canola and rapeseed plants and oils are very different. Canadian scientists used traditional plant breeding in the 1960s to eliminate the undesirable components of rapeseed* and created "canola," a contraction of "Canadian" and "ola." Canola oil is prized for its heart-healthy properties with the least saturated fat of all culinary oils.
Canola belongs to the same family as mustard, broccoli, Brussels sprouts and cauliflower. Besides the U.S., it is grown in Canada and Australia, but canola oil is consumed all over the world. In the U.S., the ratio of supply versus demand of canola oil is about 1:4, which presents a huge opportunity for U.S. producers to grow more canola.
About 1.7 million acres are currently grown in the U.S., predominantly in North Dakota, but also in Oklahoma, Kansas, Texas, Minnesota, Montana, Idaho, Oregon and several other states.