Just a month ago there was a sea of gold rolling across country Victoria as the warmer weather brought canola crops into full bloom. The following images were taken around the Ballan district, a small rural village west of Melbourne on the M8.
Though it is coming to the end of its 'full bloom', it still looks amazing as you come over the hilltop and see vast fields of gold!
Vivid yellow flowers in spring make canola the most distinctive of Victoria's winter crops. Walk close to a canola crop in flower and the strong cabbage smell explains its origin as a member of the Brassica family which includes broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, mustard, radish and turnip. Canola is a variant of the ancient crop rapeseed, a word derived from the Latin rapum meaning turnip. Fodder rape is a related plant sown in southern Victoria for grazing by sheep.
Canola is grown for its seed which is crushed for the oil used in margarine, cooking oils, salad oils and edible oil blends. The properties of the oil fits with the current view that human health is better served by increasing the intake of mono and poly unsaturated fats in place of saturated fats.
After the oil is extracted, the by-product is a protein-rich meal used by the intensive livestock industries.
Victorian grain growers are hoping for average spring rains to finish off the season and deliver the potential of crops like these. Victorian farmers are forecasting a healthy canola production crop of 770,000 tonnes.