Tuesday, 14 April 2015

Canola Gold

The canola (Fr. colza) is in flower again. I'm not a big fan. It's acid yellow which is hard on the eyes, it stinks of cabbage (to which it is related) and it gives me hayfever. It's widely grown as a crop here to produce oil, biodiesel and a high protein stock feed (which is actually a by-product after the oil is extracted). Only palm and soybean are more important globally as oil producing crops. The EU is the biggest producer, followed by Canada and the US. It is favoured as a source of biodiesel because canola produces more oil per hectare than other oil seed crops and freezes at a lower temperature than other oils.

A typical April sea of canola in the Touraine.
Bees love it and many of the apiarists here will sell a pale creamed or set honey labelled colza. The honey crystalises easily, which is a nuisance for the beekeeper and the crop can cause a boom and bust situation in the hive. It flowers relatively early, but doesn't last very long, so if the bees don't have anything to move on to it can be a disaster for them. On the arable farms where canola is grown crop margins where wild flowers might grow are getting smaller and smaller. These days the bees are in real danger of starving after the canola finishes flowering.

Roe Deer like canola flowers too.
Canola is prone to fungal diseases as a crop and is typically sprayed with fungicide about 8 times between late August when it is planted and early June when it is harvested.

The Chateau of Montpoupon through the canola.

The view from our guest bedroom window every alternate April.
A la cuisine hier: ANZAC biscuits, which are notorious for spreading all over the oven tray. I managed to judge the spacing quite well, with only a few joining up at the edges.
Au jardin hier: Onions, garlic and broad beans weeded and watered. Mangetout (snow peas) sown (I figure that if ordinary peas have failed to oblige by not germinating after two sowings I might as well see if mangetout will come up instead). Strawberries planted. Brassicas and lettuce seedlings planted. I've set up a fleece tunnel for them. It's an experiment to protect the lettuce from frost and the brassicas from caterpillars.


  1. It's funny, I don't smell the colza. But then I like the smell of cabbage or collards cooking, and their taste. I'm glad not to be allergic to colza pollen. Poor you right now.

    1. I've lost my voice so quite a few French people have had to put up with me croaking down the phone at them in my heavily accented French just lately. Fortunately the over the counter nasal spray Humex improves things a bit.

    2. I had 2 weeks of allergy symptoms, with just a few good days now and again, while I was in North Carolina. I don't think I could live there, and I'm not sure I'll go there again in March. My main allergy is to cypress tree pollen.

  2. The most gorgeous photos Susan - and Sue just loves the one of the deer. Through our many travels in France, see has her eyes open for deer without a great deal of success. Looks like we may be back next year again.

    1. The one of the deer was taken in October I think, in agricultural rape, not canola in fact.

  3. All the canola grown in the US is now GMO'd, and it's contaminated the Canadian organic canola. Or so I am told by people who follow such farming issues.

  4. Not canola..... Canola is a cooking oil in the UK....
    call it by the British name... RAPE!
    Because that is what it is doing to the countryside....
    as is the excessive treatment with fungicides, pesticides, systemics...

    And the deer photo is most certainly going to be amongst agricultural mustard in October...
    note the paler flowers than rape...
    a superb green manure, but NOT... as stated on the packet... killed by the first frosts...
    nor the second, third, fourth....
    in fact I only think that that cold Feb of three years back would have done for it!!

    I always thought that I was allergic to rape pollen....
    until Pauline noticed that I always seemed to be worst affected around Silver Birches...
    and when checked it was the tree pollen that was doing it!!
    They are both in flower at the same time!

    1. And I get the rotting cabbage smell, too....
      it is the old lower leaves putrifying on the ground...
      much like the Wisbech fen area in the UK...
      I think that that was where Terry Pratchett got the idea for the country of Sto Lat in the Discworld books.