History of the canola plant
Canola has come a long way since its simple beginnings. Plant breeding, initiated by Dr. Baldur R. Stefansson and Dr. Keith Downey in the late 1950’s, was undertaken to change the nutritional make-up of rapeseed. Numerous studies since then have been conducted showing the benefits of canola, leading to widespread demand worldwide.
Canola was bred through conventional plant breeding methods from its parent rapeseed in the early 1970s. Canola, however, is NOT rapeseed - their nutritional profiles are very different.
1974: Tower, the first canola, was released. This new B. napus variety meant that Canada could now produce oil and meal which was nutritionally superior to that produced from rapeseed in other parts of the world.
1975: The first canola crushing facility was established in Canada.
1976: The conversion to low-erucic acid varieties reached an average 98.5% of plantings.
1977: Candle, the first B. rapa canola variety, was released.
1978: The term canola was trademarked by the Western Canadian Oilseed Crushers' Association (now the Canadian Oilseed Processors Association) to differentiate the superior low-erucic acid and low-glucosinolate varieties and their products from the older rapeseed varieties.
1979: Over 3.4 million hectares (8.4 million acres) were seeded to canola. During the 1978-79 crop year, Japanese imports of canola seed exceeded one million tonnes for the first time.
1980: The Rapeseed Association of Canada became the Canola Council of Canada (CCC) to acknowledge the development and acceptance of canola varieties. Ownership of the canola trademark was transferred to the CCC.
1985: Canola received Generally Recognized as Safe (GRAS) status in the US, opening the doors to the American marketplace.
1988-89: Puritan canola oil received the American Health Foundation's Health Product of the Year award and the American College of Nutrition's first ever Product Acceptance Award.
1995: The first herbicide-tolerant canola variety was released.
2002: The canola industry set a new annual production target: 7 million tonnes of seed by 2007.
2004: The first high-stability canola oil was introduced.
2006: The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) authorized a qualified health claim for canola oil based on its high % of unsaturated fats.
2007: The canola industry set a new annual production target: 15 million tonnes of seed by 2015.
2011: Canadian canola production set a new record (14 million tonnes).
2013: The 2007 goal of 15 million tonnes by 2015 was exceeded, two years early.
2014: The canola industry launched a new target: 52 bushels/acre by 2025.