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September 22, 2014

Brazilian Researchers Work to "Tropicalize" Canola Production

Scientists at Embrapa in Brazil are researching ways to "tropicalize" canola production in the country. Canola is the third principal oil crop in the world after soybeans and palm oil, but it is a very minor crop in Brazil. Canola production in Brazil is viewed as a second crop generally planted after the first crop of soybeans are harvested.

Researchers have started screening 30 genotypes of canola to identify which could be adapted to the low latitudes of central Brazil where the temperatures are 6 to 9 degrees Celsius. They are looking at areas where the altitude is above 600 meters where the temperatures are hot during the day and cool at night, which is what canola likes. The target area for the research are the states of Minas Gerais, Sao Paulo, and Mato Grosso do Sul.

Currently, Conab estimates that 45,000 hectares of canola were planted in southern Brazil in 2014 and the total production is estimated at 70,000 tons. Approximately 87% of the canola produced in Brazil is grown in the state of Rio Grande do Sul in far southern Brazil.

The canola varieties currently available in Brazil are not well suited for production in the tropical areas of Brazil, but researchers are confident that they will be able to develop new varieties that will be well suited for the region. After all, the same thing was said about soybeans 40 years ago and now central Brazil is a major soybean producing region of the world.

Canola is a highly desirable edible oil for human consumption with high amounts of omega 3 and vitamin E, but Brazil must import canola oil to meet domestic demand. Canola oil would compete with soybean oil in Brazil for human consumption.