SALEM -- The Oregon Department of Agriculture has adopted an administrative rule that opens parts of the Willamette Valley for canola production.
The rule allows for 2,500 acres of canola -- which represents 0.13 percent of the approximately 1.9 million acres of farmable land in the valley, said Bruce Pokarney, ODA spokesman.
The rule also establishes a minimum field size of 25 acres for canola.
Farmers desiring to grow canola must apply for a contract with ODA that spells out where the plant can be grown, management requirements and control measures to guard against the inadvertent spread of canola seed.
Canola has faced strong opposition from specialty seed growers -- a $50 million industry -- in the Willamette Valley. Many growers fear canola will cross contaminate their crops.
"We have made modifications to what was proposed in order to give greater assurance that our specialty seed growers in the Willamette Valley are not harmed by canola production," ODA Director Katy Coba said.
A majority of specialty seed production remains in a rapeseed exclusion zone in which canola can't be grown, according to the new provision.
Polk, Marion and eight other counties comprise the two-zone protected district. The first zone is 1.9 million acres and bans canola because it contains the highest concentration of specialty seed growers in the valley, Pokarney said.
The second zone is about 1.7 million acres and is located outside the exclusion zone. It allows canola but production is capped at 2,500 acres.
Parts of northern Polk County and the east hills of Marion County are considered prime areas for growing canola.
The rule and its boundaries take effect immediately. ODA will award contracts for canola planting by Sept. 1.