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Canola is a plant that is a member of a large family of plants called crucifers. Crucifers are easy to identify because the four yellow flower petals form the shape of a cross. The canola plants grow to a height of one to two metres. The yellow flower produces seed pods that are about 5 centimetres in length. There is an average of 60 to 100 pods per plant. Each seed pod contains 20 to 30 tiny, round seeds which are 1 mm. in diameter. When it is ready to harvest, the plant changes colour from green to light yellow. These tiny seeds are crushed to extrude canola oil. From germination to seed production, the life cycle of a canola plant takes about 3 1/2 months, depending on temperature, moisture, sunlight and soil fertility. Canola is a cool season crop. It grows particularly well on the prairies, where cool nights and hot days allow it to develop its unique fatty acid profile. Canola belongs to a section (or genus) of the crucifer family called Brassica. As well as canola, Brassica plants include mustard, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, broccoli and turnip. Brassicas are a major source of food in many countries, including Canada. http://www.mcgacanola.org
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