“It’s beautiful” – a colorful culture attracts visitors to an agricultural country

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With the scorching summer heat and sun this week, patches of bright yellow canola flowers have started to burst into displays of dazzling color across Essex County.

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“It’s absolutely beautiful,” said a visitor licking ice cream outside the Scoop lounge near Harrow on Friday. Surrounding that business, which is connected to the Priscilla’s Presents gift shop at 1195 Iler Rd., are acres and acres of canola that began flowering Thursday.

“Friends down the street had (canola) last year, and it was really nice – my husband thought it looked pretty cool, and he decided on that,” Tracey Cipkar said, pointing to a 35-acre sea of ​​yellow. With azure skies overhead and a cherry red barn next to the field, the primary color palette is breathtaking.

Mike Cipkar, 58, has farmed his whole life but decided to add canola this season largely because of all the selfie-taking visitors he saw thronging rural County roads. ‘Essex last spring. He thought it might attract additional business for his wife’s retail ventures.

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People flock because it’s too beautiful

the canola, planted last September, peaks in color in the next few days and should last another week before the flowers turn to seed and the plant turns brown, with harvest around Canada Day. Local food producer ADM Windsor grinds and processes the harvest into vegetable oil and livestock feed.

A 35 acre field of canola in bloom next to Scoop Ice Cream and Priscilla's Presents on Iler Road in Harrow, is pictured Friday May 13, 2022.
A 35 acre field of canola in bloom next to Scoop Ice Cream and Priscilla’s Presents on Iler Road in Harrow, is pictured Friday May 13, 2022. Photo by Dax Melmer /Windsor Star

Seeing throngs of enthusiastic visitors flock to the county last year to snap photos of canola growing in farm fields, Mike and Tracey Cipkar decided to try cash cropping – huge in western Canada, but relatively rare in Ontario – trial this spring.

“People are flocking because it’s so pretty,” Tracey said.

It was also a good business decision.

Seventh-generation farmer Greg Iler, who is growing about 200 acres of canola this year just down the road, said canola prices have nearly doubled in just two years and are approaching record highs. He attributes this to widespread drought in the Prairie provinces last year, as well as Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, both of which have tightened global supplies.

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The nearly 1,000 acres of canola planted last fall in Essex County was up from 700 acres the previous year, but a tiny amount compared to the more than 20 million acres planted in 2020 in the three prairie provinces of Canada. According to Scott McLean, a part-time farmer who also grows canola locally (and works for ADM Windsor), the 10,000 acres of canola crops in Ontario compares to about two million acres of corn and about three million acres. acres of soybeans grown in the province. .

McLean said about a third of local canola plantings this year were ruined due to a wet, wet winter.

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Iler said his canola crop is a small percentage of his total cash crop acreage which includes corn, soybeans and wheat. But he also loves motorists passing by seeing his golden canola crop, pulling to the side of the road, driving off, “turning around and taking a good selfie.”

He said that even his family participated in the act.

“We asked a friend of the family to take a picture of us so I can appreciate that,” said Iler, who works on the farm and lives up the road from Essex town, who both carry the his family name.

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A vintage van is parked outside Scoop Ice Cream and Priscilla's Presents on Iler Road in Harrow, where a 35 acre canola field currently stands.  Bloom, Friday, May 13, 2022.
A vintage van is parked outside Scoop Ice Cream and Priscilla’s Presents on Iler Road in Harrow, where a 35 acre canola field currently stands. Bloom, Friday, May 13, 2022. Photo by Dax Melmer /Windsor Star
A 35 acre field of canola in bloom next to Scoop Ice Cream and Priscilla's Presents on Iler Road in Harrow, is pictured Friday May 13, 2022.
A 35 acre field of canola in bloom next to Scoop Ice Cream and Priscilla’s Presents on Iler Road in Harrow, is pictured Friday May 13, 2022. Photo by Dax Melmer /Windsor Star

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