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Information @ a Glance

General Information

  • Rapeseed (Brassica napus), also known as Rape, Oilseed Rape, Rapa, Rapaseed and Canola, is a bright yellow flowering member of the family Brassicaceae.

  • It is a mustard crop grown primarily for its seed which yields about forty percent oil and a high-protein animal feed.

Growth and Cultivation

  • Both fall and spring seeded types of canola are available.

  • Canola growth is characterized by six main growth stages. Much of the management of this crop is related to the length of time and plant characteristics within each of these stages.

  • Canola is widely adapted, particularly to the cool extremes of the temperate zones. Minimum temperatures for growth have been reported to be near 32F.

  • Canola does best on medium textured, well drained soils. The crop is tolerant of a soil pH as low as 5.5 and saline conditions.

Extraction and Processing

  • Two main types of processes are used to separate oil from an oilseed. The first process is mechanical extrusion, in which the
    seed is mechanically pressed, allowing the oil to be separated from the meal. The second process is solvent extraction, which is often used in conjunction with some form of mechanical extrusion.

  • The solvent extraction process applies a solvent solution to material that has been prepressed. The solvent bonds to oil in the pre-pressed material and an oil laden solvent solution is then separated and further processed to separate the oil from the solvent.

  • Mechanical extrusion typically recovers between 65% and 80% of the oil contained in a seed. Solvent extraction recovers over 95% of the oil contained in a seed.


  • Rapeseed oil generally contains a high level of erucic acid, which is mildly toxic to humans in large doses.

  • Traditional and other uses have been for lamp oils, soap making, high-temperature and tenacious high-erucic acid lubricating oils, and plastics manufacturing.


  • Higher prices have resulted from a good demand for rapeseed oil for food and for biodiesel in the European Union. EU oilseed farmers will therefore be stimulated to increase rapeseed surface.

  • Worldwide production of rapeseed/canola rose to 47 million metric tons, of which the total EU-25 production accounts for 16 million metric tons.

  • Canola production has grown substantially in Australia over the last decade due to improved varieties and agronomic practices, and the development of export markets to secure demand for the increasing production.

  • The latest forecast for global canola and rapeseed trade, is that export trade will be 8.7 million tonnes with Canada representing 44 per cent and Australia accounting for 14 per cent.

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