Winter canola may be a good alternative crop for no-tillers

3 Alternative No-Tilled Crops to Boost Your Bottom Line

Grain sorghum and winter canola have growing markets, and no-tilled vegetables can help growers tap into the farm-to-table movement.

Pictured Above: POPPING UP. Emerged winter canola that was no-tilled into 200-bushel corn residue. No-tillers who can analyze and resolve challenges at planting time with this small-seeded crop could earn respectable premiums at canola crushing plants. Photo Courtesy of Brian Caldbeck

When corn and soybean stockpiles grow and prices stagnate, no-tillers may want to decide whether it’s time to plant an alternative crop to explore new markets and work toward being a market maker instead of a market taker.

Sixty-eight no-tillers who answered our 2018 No-Till Operational Benchmark Study are growing roughly 31,000 acres of what might be considered “other” crops in the Midwest, including a variety of vegetables, sesame, winter canola, buckwheat, sweet corn, popcorn, lentils and oilseeds. They also grew about 25,000 acres of grain sorghum.

These crops may only occupy a small portion of a no-tiller’s total acres, but offer some income diversification. That could be important with thorny trade discussions under way across the globe that are leaving ag markets on edge.

Winter Canola


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To see a video of Pequea’s Residue Slicers at work on Steve Groff’s planter, go to

An up-and-coming crop in the U.S. with some definite income potential and rotational benefits is winter canola

In Canada, the brassica is grown on 16 million acres, while the U.S. acreage stands at only 1.7 million acres. Top production states are Idaho, Kansas, Minnesota, Montana, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Oregon and Washington. 

No-tilled or strip-tilled, winter canola not only offers a good profit…

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John dobberstein2

John Dobberstein

John Dobberstein is senior editor of No-Till Farmer magazine and the e-newsletter Dryland No-TillerHe previously covered agriculture for the Tulsa World and worked for daily newspapers in Chicago, Milwaukee and St. Joseph, Mich. He graduated with a B.A. in journalism and political science from Central Michigan University.

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