Canola is a herbaceous plant of variable height, which can reach 1.5m in cultivars under optimal conditions. Its main root is thick and very deep, generating a large number of secondary roots that facilitate drainage and aeration of the soil. The stem is erect and glabrous, more or less branched, with a multitude of green and fleshy leaves. The inflorescence is cluster-shaped, with a large number of flowers. Its flowers are yellow, with four cross-shaped petals and entomophilous fertilization. They are usually self-fertile flowers. The fruits are narrow, cylindrical and fine siliques, with a length of 5 to 20cm and a very narrow diameter, less than 3mm. The seed is black and very small, weighing less than 5mg. This will be the one that will be grown to extract rapeseed oil and other by-products.
In Spain approximately 78,000 hectares of rape are cultivated, of which approximately 175,000 tons are produced annually. In Spain the varieties are divided into those of winter and those of spring. Winter varieties need 7 weeks at 7ºC to vernalize and flower without problems. Spring varieties do not need an intense cold period to flower properly.
Regarding the optimum soil for its crop, it prefers deep soils with a loamy texture and with a good structure and drainage. It does not adapt well to sandy or clay soils. The optimum pH in the soil is neutral, from 6.5 to 7.5. It is quite tolerant of salinity.
Canola is a plant that in its initial growth stage does not endure temperatures below -2ºC. It is recommended to grow it in mild temperature climates, at less than 25ºC. It does not tolerate well the dry climates and without environmental humidity.
Canola water needs are low, from 450 to 500mm per year. In dry land and if it is planted in spring, the soil's water reserves may be sufficient for the whole crop cycle. In more humid climates, the annual rains are sufficient to cover the crops needs.
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