The rapeseed being grown by Jimmy Powers and a number of other North Carolina growers is being used for industrial oils, which prefer high erucic acid content. The common acronym for these varieties of rapeseed is HEAR for High Erucic Acid Rapeseed.

Primary uses for HEAR crops include: plastic bags coated with the oil to reduce friction, caps to soft drinks and other drink products, and as an anti-slippage agent in peanut butter.

Jeff Riddle, who is a contract administrator for Technology Crops International, says rapeseed is high demand worldwide. In the U.S. demand exceeds domestic supply.

In North Carolina, Riddles says rapeseed is an ideal companion crop with wheat. Ideal planting dates range from mid-September in the western part of the state to mid-October in eastern parts of North Carolina.

Planting dates allow growers to go directly from wheat planting to rapeseed. Or, they can put rapeseed in a week or two earlier than wheat, which will give them more flexibility in harvesting their winter crops the next spring.

Rapeseed also fits in well with most spring-planted crops. It is an ideal double-crop planted with soybeans.

Typically, a grower can get rapeseed harvested and soybeans planted a couple of weeks earlier than soybeans following wheat. The early planting dates are likely a primary reason for higher soybean yields behind rapeseed, than behind wheat.

“Most of our growers plant rapeseed behind corn and before soybeans. We have a few growers who are growing it behind cotton, and with crops being planted a few days earlier this year, that may be another good option,” Riddle says.

Powers says his relationship with Technology Crops International has been good so far. “We attended a meeting last year, and my brother and I liked the emphasis the company put on working with growers. They have been here with us as we’ve gone through this first year of planting and growing rapeseed,” he adds.

Powers says he is planning to plant sunflowers on a contract with Technology Crops International. Riddle says his company did field trial work on high oleic acid sunflowers last year in the western part of North Carolina.

“We are going to offer limited contracts in the western part of the state this planting season. And, we will be working with growers, like Jimmy Powers, in the eastern part of the state to grow high oleic sunflowers in commercial trials,” Riddle notes.

He says, “I think sunflowers will grow on a wide variety of soil types, and pretty wide variety of pHs. But, the bigger concern here in North Carolina is the high heat and the high humidity.”

Powers, who farms about 3,500 acres near St. Paul, N.C., says labor is a constant challenge and these new crops offer some options that don’t require hiring more people. He farms with his brother and says any crops or any new technology that helps reduce labor requirements on the farm are a big asset.