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Yellow flowers helping Oklahoma wheat crop

OKLAHOMA CITY – You’ve driven past it; you might have even stopped to take a picture in it.

The fields of yellow flowers are a pretty sight all around Oklahoma.

It’s that bright yellow that catches your eye but do you actually know what it is?

The plants that seem to be the perfect background for candid snapshot is canola.

It’s not just a pretty flower, Canola helps farmers all across the state grow a stronger wheat crop.

Ray Ridlen, extension educator at OSU, explains how it all started.

“We were getting lots of grassy weeds in our wheat and wheat is a grass,” he said.

Those weeds started taking over fields because they grew resistant to herbicides.

Farmers needed a way to kill the weeds but not their crops.

They started planting canola instead of wheat for a year or two and were able to use different, stronger poisons to clean up their fields. Canola Flowers 1

“Same time frame as our winter wheat,” Ridlen said. “We plant it in the fall, harvest in the spring like we do our winter wheat. So it matched up really good.”

The demand for canola oil is very high, so farmers aren’t losing money when they take a break from wheat.

Canola has only been grown in Oklahoma for about seven years.

It’s a new experience for a lot of farmers and they can’t wait to get back to the grains.

“They’re making money on it,” Ridlen said. “But it’s a little out of the comfort zone of a lot of our wheat producers.”

Canola stands for “Canadian Oil Company” they developed the crop in the 1970s.