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Canola (rapeseed)


Canola, Brassica Napus, (also known as rapeseed) is an oilseed crop. It is an excellent rotation crop, and should be used to increase profits of crops such as maize and wheat. Advantages include the lowering of root knot nematodes and Phytophtera.

The growing of canola needs good management. Special care should be taken with harvesting of the small pips. Road and rail trucks need to be sealed tightly in order to prevent losses in transit.

Canola is primarily used for manufacturing of the following:

  • Canola oil (crude oil and bottled oil-used as a salad and frying oil, in margarines, shortenings and in foods that contain vegetable oil such as baked goods, potato chips, French fries, etc.).
  • Canola oil biodiesel
  • Canola based mayonnaise
  • Canola oil cake
  • Canola meal (the by-product of canola oil processing, used as a high protein feed ingredient in the rations of animals)
  • Canola can be used for forage for pigs and poultry.
Source: Canola Market Value Chain Profile at and Canola brochure from the same website.

International business environment

The major producer of canola is the EU, followed by Canada, China and India. The major exporter is Canada with the EU a distant second. The EU, Japan and China are the major importers (USDA, 2023).





2020 saw South Africa export canola for the first time ever – 30 000 tonnes, to Europe (Bureau for Food and Agricultural Policy [BFAP], 2021). Exports have not only continued, they are expected to increase over the next decade (BFAP, 2023). This is on the back of favourable canola prices trading at record levels and producers moving from barley to canola (BFAP, 2023).

Local business environment

Find the Grading Regulations for canola and the requirements for grain exports at

Canola is an oilseed crop grown mainly in the winter rainfall regions of the Western Cape, although it is also farmed in the North West, Limpopo and Northern Cape provinces. It competes with barley and wheat when farmers choose what to grow, and with other plant oils, mainly sunflower oil and soy oil, for the local market. The shift away from barley towards canola continues (BFAP, 2023).

In South Africa, canola is primarily used for the manufacturing of canola oil and oil cake. Canola is crushed mostly for the vegetable oil market, but it also provides “an attractive alternative source of protein for animal feed, particularly in the Western Cape, where it is produced and processed (BFAP, 2023). Regarding its potential for biofuels, refer to the block below.

The canola marketing season in South Africa commences on 1 October and ends on 30 September the following year.


Notes from Bureau for Food and Agricultural Policy (BFAP) Baseline 2023-2032:

Area under canola increased by nearly 42 000 hectares in 2022 relative to average levels from 2017 to 2021, with production volumes expanding by 60%. Total domestic production exceeded 210 000 tonnes in 2022, from just 93 468 tonnes in 2017.

Assuming the introduction of new and improved seed varieties and continuous availability of these products, canola area is projected to reach 146 000 hectares by 2032, adding a further 56 000 hectares to current area.


The case for canola-based biodiesel

According to Petrus Fouché of the PhytoEnergy Group, canola is a crop with enormous economic potential for producing biodiesel.


  • Diesel based on other feedstock freezes as low as – 5 to -8ºC. Canola based biodiesel is safe as far down as -22ºC and meets the strict EU quality specifications.
  • In contrast to food or biofuel, with canola it is food and biofuel, as 60 % of the crop is used for feed, while the crop rotation increases both maize and wheat yields for up to 4 years, thus increasing food production on less hectares. The added dual purpose pasture opportunity further increases food production.
  • The oil content is higher than other feedstock used in South Africa i.e. 36 – 42 % vs. soybeans 20% & sunflower 30%
Sources: Canola Market Value Chain Profile at and Canola brochure from the same website; Bureau for Food and Agricultural Policy (BFAP) Baselines 2023-2032, 2022-2031, 2021-2030; correspondence from Petrus Fouche, PhytoEnergy Group.

Further reference:

  1. Statistics (e.g. crop estimates, export/import etc) may be found at and See also the Monthly Bulletin on the SAGIS website.
  2. Find the Grading Regulations for canola and the requirements for grain exports at

For the newcomer

  • The “Brochure Canola” and “Production guidelines canola” provide grower notes covering climatic requirements, soil requirements, planting fertilisation, irrigation, weed control, harvesting etc at
  • Find the videos on growing canola at, website of the Oil and Protein Seeds Development Trust (OPDT).

National strategy and government contact

  • Department of Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development (DALRRD) Directorate Plant Production
  • National Agricultural Marketing Council (NAMC) 

Role players


Note: Click to expand the headings below.  To get a free listing on our website like the ones below, visit here for more information or place your order hereDisclaimer: The role player listings are not vetted by this website.

Oil and Protein Seeds Development Trust – The Oil and Protein Seed Development Trust provides funding for research on sunflowers, soybeans, canola and groundnuts that is in the interest of producers, processors and consumers.
South African Grain Information Service (SAGIS) – The SAGIS website for statistics (national stocks, producer deliveries, imports, exports, consumption, weekly parity prices, historical information, etc.).

Further reference:

  • Find a list of role players under the “Co-workers” option at

Training and research

Websites and publications

Visit the websites listed earlier on this page.

  • Find the annual Canola Market Value Chain Profile on the DALRRD Directorate Marketing web pages at
  • CD Roms from the ARC-PHP (Plant Health and Protection) include: (i) Crop Pests, Vol. 4: Field Crops and Pastures Pastures  (ii) Medically Important Spiders And Scorpions Of Southern Africa. Write to booksales [at] or infopri [at]
  • Find the latest BFAP Baseline Agricultural Outlook at
  • Consult the AgriSETA Learner Guide Primary Agriculture “Harvesting agricultural crops”.
  • Find the Canola Growers’ Manual on the website of the Canola Council of
  • Find the canola grower notes at
  • Production guidelines can also be found on
  • Canolafokus and Oilseeds Focus are two publications available from the Protein Research Foundation. Download them at and Find other resources here too like videos of presentations, grower notes etc.
  • – the SAGIS website for statistics (national stocks, producer deliveries, imports, exports, consumption, weekly parity prices, historical information, etc.)
  • Kriel G. 2020, December 11. “Canola: the crop that requires perfect planning”. Farmer’s Weekly. Available at

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