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The world of wild and cultivated plants is rich and diverse, and most people have never met a significant part of them in their lives, this also applies to rapeseed.
Although many can remember what his closest relative, the rape, looks like. It is she who blooms with a solid yellow carpet in meadows and fields, and rape has similar inflorescences.
Many explanatory dictionaries report that rape is an olive plant from the Cruciferous family. Let's try to understand what rape is and how the oil obtained from it is used.
- Rape, botanical characteristics
- Why and how rapeseed is grown
- Rapeseed oil as a food product
Rape, botanical characteristics
A herbaceous annual plant, rape belongs to the Cabbage genus of the Cruciferous (Cabbage) family. Unlike many cultural relatives, rapeseed does not have a single wild-growing ancestor.
Genetic studies have shown that rapeseed is a natural hybrid that contains full, diploid, sets of chromosomes of the parental forms. For him, it is rape and vegetable cabbage. There are two forms, winter and spring.
The roots of winter rapeseed penetrate into the soil by three meters, and of spring rape - by two meters. At a depth of about 40 cm, the taproot begins to branch out and grow horizontally.
The ground parts of the plant have a height of one meter to two. Stems are straight, round, up to three centimeters in diameter in some varieties.
Two to three dozen branches of the first order depart from the stem. The stems are covered with a waxy bloom, have a green or bluish color.
Canola can be easily distinguished from other relatives of the Cruciferous family by its leaves. There are three types of leaves on the stem at once. The lower leaves, strongly cut, with a rounded upper part, have petioles and are collected in a basal rosette.
The average leaves are long, spear-shaped. The leaves are located at the top of the plant, sessile, lanceolate, with a solid edge and an extended base. The leaves are waxy and green-blue or purple in color.
There are varieties with both a large number of leaves and a weak leafiness.
The flowers are yellow, collected in shields. The fruit is a pod, up to 10 - 12 cm long, divided along its entire length by a membranous septum.
Each pod contains about three dozen globular dark-colored seeds. It is noteworthy that the rapeseed is extremely small.
If you put one thousand spring rape seeds on the scales, then their weight will not exceed five grams, and for winter rape - seven grams. Rape is propagated by seeds that do not lose their germination up to six years.
Why and how rapeseed is grown
Industrial crops of rape are due to its use in the national economy. First of all, this crop is grown for the following purposes:
- production of technical oils and biofuels
- manufacture of detergents and cosmetics
- obtaining edible vegetable oil
- procurement of green fodder
- use in the basis of compound feed
Rapeseed is grown in two ways. In mid-August, sowing of winter rape is carried out. Sowing is carried out in rows, with a row spacing of 45 - 50 cm. In spring, seedlings of winter rape can withstand frosts up to minus 4 degrees.
Blooms one month after the beginning of spring growth, the duration of flowering is one month. The total duration of the growing season is more than three hundred days.
It should be noted that as a fodder crop, winter rape is unmatched, since it is one of the first to produce green mass, and when processed, in terms of the amount of protein, it is comparable to alfalfa.
The disadvantages include low winter hardiness. Recommended for growing in regions with mild winters, such as the North Caucasus, western regions of Ukraine. The best varieties of winter rapeseed include:
- Kievsky 18
- Nemerchansky 2268
- Mytnitsky 2
Spring rape has a second name - colza. It is sown in early spring along with the earliest spring cereals. Harvest at the end of July. In many regions it is recommended for cultivation as a fodder crop, thus, it is grown in the Baltic States, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Siberia, Ukraine.
The first mowing of the green mass is carried out before flowering; the ground parts grow quickly from the left ottawa. The most common varieties of spring rape are:
- East Siberian
The vegetation period at Kolza is on average one hundred days. Both winter and spring rapeseed varieties are responsive to the application of organic and mineral fertilizers. They grow well when applying manure and full complex mineral fertilizers.
The world leaders in rapeseed cultivation are Canada and China. Rapeseed biofuels are now growing in popularity, and when comparatively cheap ingredients such as caustic soda and methyl alcohol are added to rapeseed oil, an excellent diesel fuel can be obtained.
To obtain one ton, you will need a ton of oil, a little more than a hundred liters of alcohol and ten kilograms of caustic soda. The cost of a ton of such fuel for a diesel engine is almost two times cheaper than diesel fuel offered at a gas station.
Currently, the question of using rapeseed oil as a food product remains open, and this has its own characteristics.
Rapeseed oil as a food product
During the Second World War, at the request of the allies in Canada, the sown area for rapeseed was increased, from which fuel and lubricants for military equipment were made.
Technical oils from it "adhered" well to metal parts, which reduced the consumption of technical fluids and increased the service life of weapons and equipment.
But in the years of peace, Asian rapeseed producers returned to the market, and the demand for rapeseed oil for technical purposes fell. What was suitable for iron machines was not very suitable for humans.
Attempts to produce food grade rapeseed oil have been unsuccessful. The oil turned out to be green, with a bitter taste and not a very good smell. It was steadfastly ignored by buyers.
In addition, rapeseed oil had a negative effect on the heart and blood vessels. All undesirable qualities are associated with a large amount of chlorophyll, erucic acid and glycosinolates.
Geneticists were faced with the difficult task of developing varieties in the seeds of which the content of these substances would tend to zero. At the same time, a sufficiently high winter hardiness was needed.
The result of this work was the registration in Canada of rapeseed oil under the trademark Canadian Oil, Iow Acid, which means Canadian oil with low acidity, abbreviated as canola. Oil could be called canola, in which there was no more than two percent erucic acid.
Currently, the controversy about the benefits and harms to human health of vegetable oil from this culture does not subside. It is very often included in margarines, used in the preparation of fast food, convenience foods, confectionery, chips, popcorn and even baby food.
At the same time, the labels do not always contain information about the content of rapeseed oil in products, and the name canola is not known to all consumers. Opponents of rapeseed oil as a food product argue that it is impossible to completely remove it from the body, it leaves traces on the heart and blood vessels.
Proponents insist that the benefits of canola oil are high in oleic acid, similar to olive oil.
Today, on the consumer market, about 14% of all vegetable oil is rapeseed oil, and the choice is always up to the consumer.
Video about sowing rapeseed: