"Father of Canola" excited about the crop's next chapter


There’s a lot of excitement in the canola industry about surging demand on the horizon as new crush plants are built in Western Canada.

As canola agronomists and researchers gathered in Saskatoon last week for the Canola Week conference, sitting up front, as excited about and invested in the future of the crop as anyone was Dr. Keith Downey, one of the two people who originally developed the crop back in the 1970s.

“The expansion in the crush capacity that’s coming on stream, and the opportunity for canola oil to contribute to the reduction in the use of fossil fuels is a step in the right direction. So of course, I’m excited and interested in seeing how that is going to develop,” says Dr. Downey, who turns 96 next month, in the conversation below.

The Canola Week conference itself has some of its roots in what used to be known as “Keith Downey’s Canola Industry Meeting,” which he started hosting in 1970.

“I’ve been very pleased with the way in which it’s been accepted by the industry and growers, and that it’s expanded to the extent that it has where last year, I think we had 600 people online. And this year is very interesting. We’ve got some new topics, and I noticed yesterday the excitement in the room with regard to the possibility of utilizing canola meal as a protein source,” he says. “It looks exciting, but then I don’t think there’s ever been a time when rapeseed and canola haven’t been exciting.”

Check out the interview below for more with “Father of Canola” Keith Downey on what the future holds for canola, with new crush capacity on the horizon, and why he thinks canola has almost been too successful for its own good, recorded outside the Canola Week conference room at the Sheraton Hotel in Saskatoon:

Related: Making a Lasting Contribution: Dr. Keith Downey

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