Canola field, Saskatchewan

The Joys of Photographing Saskatchewan’s Canola Bloom

Canola and flax in bloom near Redberry Lake.

Canola and flax in bloom near Redberry Lake.

Big, bold, in your face yellow, and practically begging to be photographed. Fields of canola can bring a landscape to life. The golden-blossomed oilseed crop is grown in many parts of the world, but is especially prevalent on the Canadian prairies. Here in Saskatchewan, we have the world’s largest production, so finding canola is usually as easy as driving down almost any road.

Canola field, Saskatchewan

Canola field, Saskatchewan

Canola is a cool season crop, so it tends to be more common in the northern grain belt than in the far south. Around Saskatoon, where we live, you see it everywhere. Prime time to find canola in bloom is around mid-July, though conditions may vary from year to year, with some blooming early July and even into early August. We’re now at the tail end of the bloom, thought we’re still finding the occasional late-seeded crop that is brilliant yellow.

Canola field, Saskatchewan

Canola field, Saskatchewan

Areas that we especially like for photography include the Thickwood Hills (northeast of The Battlefords, northwest of Blaine Lake) or the hills east of Redberry Lake. These areas have a lot of variety in landforms, so we get splashes of yellow from canola mixed with bushlands, small lakes, wetlands, and old farmsteads.

Canola field, Saskatchewan

Canola fields can make a colourful backdrop for photographing buildings such as grain elevators (especially the traditional old wooden ones that are fast disappearing), abandoned buildings, or country churches. Another area we like is northeast of Saskatoon, such as around the tiny community of Smuts, where we sometimes find canola fields next to onion-domed Ukrainian churches.

Canola field and St. John Church, Smuts, Saskatchewan

Canola field near Redberry Lake, Saskatchewan

Canola field at Rabbit Lake, Saskatchewan

Our personal favourite is to try to find canola next to a flax crop in bloom. The blue from the flax next to yellow canola makes for an interesting melding of primary colours. However, this combination is not very common and it’s usually a short window to find both crops blooming at exactly the same time. While flax is grown in many parts of Saskatchewan, our go-to area to try to find flax and canola together is usually around Redberry Lake.

Canola and flax field, Saskatchewan

Canola and flax field, Saskatchewan

Canola and flax field, Saskatchewan

Because of crop rotations, if you see canola planted in a particular spot this year, it likely won’t be there next year. So it’s difficult to plan your photography ahead of time, other than scouting out locations earlier in the season to see what is planted where. Generally we find it easier to simply go exploring and see what we can find. Here are a few images that we came up with this summer, as well as a few from previous years.

Canola field, Saskatchewan

Canola field and wildflowers, Saskatchewan

Canola field and rainbow, Saskatchewan

Canola field, Saskatchewan

Canola field, Saskatchewan

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