Coleman adds that he expects to see increased wheat yields in fields following canola, then soybeans. “We haven’t harvested any of the wheat yet, but looking at the deep green color and vigor of the plants, we are expecting to see some yield advantages, he says.

Though canola has been grown sporadically over the past few years in the Southeast, production of the crop is very new to most growers and relatively new to growers across the U.S.

Currently, approximately one million acres of canola is grown in the U.S. While the Southeast has the climate to produce the highest canola yields, plus producing soybeans or another second crop, the region actually produces the least amount of canola.

Most growers in the Southeast know little about the crop, most thinking canola is a plant. Actually canola is rapeseed developed conventionally from breeding lines of Brassica napus and Brassica rapa. The name canola comes from Canada Oil Low Acid.

Canola seeds contain 40-46 percent oil with the remainder of the seed being processed into meal, a high protein livestock feed. The oil is an excellent feedstock for biodiesel.

It also has the lowest saturated fat and highest unsaturated fat of all vegetable oil, it's cholesterol-free and is a good source of the antioxidant vitamin E.

“Our whole farm is no-till, and if the planter or combine is running there’s a real good chance I’m in it,” Coleman says with a grin. “The first thing I had to learn was that canola requires the proper set up of planting and harvesting equipment,” he adds.

He used plant sweeps ahead of the planter to move corn debris out of the way and to keep the planting rows clean. “We learned early on the importance of getting canola to grow close to the ground after planting. If you plant it in heavy litter, the crown, or rosette of the plant can be above the ground. If you get freezing weather, the litter will freeze and can kill the plant,” he adds.