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Research abundant among oilseed crops

As oilseeds light new interest among Pacific Northwest producers, they’re discovering volumes of ongoing research by scientists who have been pushing the importance of the crop for many years.


As oilseeds light new interest among Pacific Northwest producers, they’re discovering volumes of ongoing research by scientists who have been pushing the importance of the crop for many years.

A visit with oilseed researchers during the Direct Seed and Oilseed Cropping Systems conference in Kennewick, Wash., earlier this year, revealed a far-reaching body of studies on oilseeds as kindling a promising future for the crops.

Key Points

• Extensive oilseed research is underway in the Pacific Northwest.

• Much of the focus among scientists is on canola.

• These studies accompany a surge in grower oilseed interest in the region.

For a sampling of what is going on in the research plots and labs, most which focuses on canola, here’s a rundown on information scientists provided at the conference:

• Summarization of canola research in the PNW. The research began in 2007 by USDA and Washington State University scientists to look at optimum seeding rates and dates, feral rye management in winter canola, variety testing, and the use of high-residue cereal crops and stripper headers to allow no-till winter canola planting.

• Study on feral rye control. A USDA-WSU study launched in 2005 disclosed that the introduction of winter canola into the winter wheat and fallow scenario offers a new opportunity for better management of the weed.

• Canola in rotation. Enterprise budgets are provided from a University of Idaho study on whether canola would be a good choice in crop rotations. WSU joined in the research.

• Canola insects and diseases. Another USDA and WSU investigation reported that as canola plantings increase, so will the chance of disease and pests in the crop.

• Optimal agronomic conditions for spring and winter canola in northern Idaho. UI researchers are trying to optimize productivity of the crop in the target region, hoping to provide valuable information for growers on the best varieties and farming management methods to use.

• UI survey of regional growers. This study includes growers throughout the PNW who have or are growing canola to gather knowledge from their experiences that may help other producers.

• Oilseed production feasibility in PNW. UI effort uses spring-planted and fall-planted Brassicacaea species to test how each performs in yields, oil content, meal characteristics and rotational benefits.

• Camelina and canola as protein supplements. WSU and UI worked with feeders on this study and found canola meal outperforms camelina in weight gain among beef heifers. Importantly, the researchers conclude that canola meal has a “definite advantage over camelina meal, which may be due in part to palatability issues.”

• Timing of forced lodging and swathing on yield and quality of winter canola. This is an Oregon State University entry, which concludes that yield and quality of canola was better when crops were pushed, or lodged, versus swathing.

• Management of fresh wheat residue for irrigated winter canola. After two years of study, researchers from WSU and USDA are finding it may not be necessary to burn off fresh wheat residue and till heavily to plant winter canola, noting further study is needed to draw solid conclusions.

More studies are underway with oilseeds in the PNW. To learn more, visit our website at and click on “Web Exclusives.”


This article published in the April, 2014 edition of WESTERN FARMER-STOCKMAN.


All rights reserved. Copyright Farm Progress Cos. 2014.

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