The rapeseed plant (Brassica napu) is a flowering annual related to mustard, broccoli and cabbage. It grows 2 to 4 feet tall, branching out from a central stem and bearing yellow flowers with four petals each. Its seeds are harvested as a source of oil. Depending on the variety, rapeseed oil is used in industrial applications or sold as canola oil, an edible oil commonly available in grocery stores. Rapeseed also is frequently used as a cover crop and green manure in fall and winter.
Plant rapeseed in a site that has moist, fertile soil and is in full sun. The soil needs to be well-draining. Prepare the soil in early spring or late fall by hoeing or discing with a garden tractor to break up the surface.
Incorporate the appropriate fertilizer to areas for rapeseed plantings in the amounts needed to adjust any soil deficiencies. Rapeseed typically responds well to nitrogen fertilizers. Add the herbicide trifluralin at 1 lb. per acre for weed control.
Broadcast rapeseed, either by hand or mechanically, at a ratio of 4 to 6 lbs. of seed per acre. Cover the rapeseed with 1 to 1-1/2 inches of soil.
Water rape seed immediately after planting and once a month during the growing season to keep the soil moist. Reduce watering during significant rainfall and increase if a dry spell occurs.
Harvest the dried and swollen seed pods from August and cull the seeds from the pods for processing.