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Title: Sowing date and tillage effects on fall-seeded camelina in the northern Corn Belt

item Gesch, Russell - Russ
item Cermak, Steven - Steve

Submitted to: Agronomy Journal
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 3/8/2011
Publication Date: 7/1/2011
Citation: Gesch, R.W., Cermak, S.C. 2011. Sowing date and tillage effects on fall-seeded camelina in the northern Corn Belt. Agronomy Journal. 103(4):980-987.

Interpretive Summary: Camelina is a relatively new oilseed crop in the United States, even though it has been grown as a crop for hundreds of years in northern Europe. It is not necessary to use a lot of water or fertilizer such as nitrogen to grow a good crop of camelina. Therefore, camelina could serve as a low-cost alternative source of seed oil for making biofuels and for food uses. Not much is known about how well winter camelina varieties do agronomically in the northern Corn Belt region or when is the best time to plant them. We, therefore, designed a two-year field experiment to discover the best time in the fall to plant two different winter camelina varieties. We also looked at whether the camelina survives the winter and yields better if planted into a no-tilled soil containing wheat stubble versus a soil that has been chisel-plowed before planting. We found that the best time to plant winter camelina in west central Minnesota is early October and that it was better to plant it into a no-tilled soil with wheat stubble rather than the bare chisel-plowed soil. Furthermore, we successfully grew winter camelina without using any herbicides. Our results indicate that camelina can be grown as a winter crop in the northern Corn Belt and that in fact it can be cheaply produced because it does not require a large amount of agricultural inputs such as herbicides for weed control. This information will be beneficial to other scientists studying camelina and to university extension personnel and crop consultants to help educate and guide farmers in producing camelina in the northern U.S.

Technical Abstract: Camelina (camelina sativa L.), a member of the Brassicaceae family, can potentially serve as a low-input alternative oil source for advanced biofuels as well as for food and other industrial uses. Winter annual camelina genotypes may be economically and environmentally advantageous for the northern Corn Belt, but little is known about their agronomic potential for this region. A two-yr field study was conducted in western Minnesota to determine optimum fall sowing time for two winter camelina cultivars in a no-tillage (NT) and chisel-plowed (CP) system. Plants reached 50% flowering as much as 7 d earlier in the NT than the CP system. Plant stands were generally greatest in the NT system, but yields were only greater than those in the CP system during the second year of the study. Seed yield and oil content increased with sowing date to early October. Seed yield and oil content were as high as 1317 kg ha-1 and 420 g kg-1, respectively. Results indicate that camelina is a viable winter crop for the northern Corn Belt and that seed and oil yields are optimized by sowing in early October into no-tilled small grain stubble. Moreover, camelina offered good weed suppression without the use of herbicide, which supports the work of others suggesting that it can successfully be produced with low agricultural inputs.