Local News

More Farmers Filling Land With Canola Plants

Posted October 31, 2007 7:10 p.m. EDT
Updated October 31, 2007 8:05 p.m. EDT

— Lower prices for cotton and peanuts have helped back many farmers into a corner, compounding the effect of the drought, but the canola plant might just be a light at the end of their tunnel.

Tim Phelps grows a variety of crops on his Northampton County farm from peanuts and cotton to soybeans. He said the future of farming might lie with the canola plant.

“Just put it in the ground about a half-inch deep and wait for the rain," he said.

Phelps said he hopes that one day the canola plant will grow 4 feet tall. He would like to sell canola oil to bio-diesel fuel companies.

“We're hoping that it [the canola plant] will prosper and give us some more alternatives to peanuts and other crops that we're having such a hard time with," Phelps said.

Phelps is not alone. Statewide, there is 10 times more canola production than three years ago.

“There's a tremendous opportunity in agriculture,” Vann Rogerson.

Rogerson is the president of the North Carolina Northeast Commission, which promotes economic development in 16 counties. His group encourages farmers to diversify their crops and market to bio-diesel fuel companies.

“With all those alternative products that they haven't been growing in the past, there's now a lot of future, particularly in the bio-engineered area,” Rogerson said.

Some standard crops, like peanuts and cotton, can also be used for bio-diesel fuel production, but the canola plant produces more than twice the amount of oil.