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Title: Using fitness parameters to evaluate three oilseed Brassicaceae species as potential oil crops in two contrasting environments

item ROYO-ESNAL, ARTIZ - Universitat De Lleida
item EDO-TENA, EVA - Universitat De Lleida
item TORRA, JOEL - Universitat De Lleida
item RECASENS, JORDI - Universitat De Lleida
item Gesch, Russell - Russ

Submitted to: Industrial Crops and Products
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 10/13/2016
Publication Date: 1/1/2017
Publication URL:
Citation: Royo-Esnal, A., Edo-Tena, E., Torra, J., Recasens, J., Gesch, R.W. 2017. Using fitness parameters to evaluate three oilseed Brassicaceae species as potential oil crops in two contrasting environments. Industrial Crops and Products. 95:148-155.

Interpretive Summary: Pennycress (Thlaspi arvense) and camelina (Camelina sativa) are plants that belong to the mustard family (Brassicaceae) and are currently being developed in the U.S. as biofuel crops. Other countries such as Spain are also considering these species for biofuel feedstock. Plant growth and development parameters related to vegetative and reproductive growth (referred to as "fitness") of these species were studied in the field in Spain under a semi-arid Mediterranean climate and in Minnesota, U.S. characterized by a continental temperate climate. The objective was to compare the fitness of pennycress and two camelina species grown in Almenar, Spain and Morris, Minnesota to gain a better understanding of their suitability as biofuel crops in various environments, especially in relatively dry rain-fed cropping systems of Spain. All three species studied are winter annuals, which were planted in the fall and matured the following spring/summer in both environments. Amount of precipitation and length of growing season greatly affected the fitness parameters of the species studied. Generally, pennycress seedling emergence was better in Minnesota than Spain, while the camelina species emerged similarly at both sites. However, plants of all three species tended to be larger and yield more seed when grown in Spain as compared to Minnesota. The lower emergence in Spain was likely due to dry soil conditions, whereas the greater plant growth and yield mainly resulted from a longer growing season between fall and spring due to mild Mediterranean winters. Results indicated that the two camelina species are suitable as potential rotation crops for relatively dry regions of North-east Spain, even without irrigation. Pennycress, however, would most likely require irrigation to be produced as a crop in North-east Spain. These results will benefit agronomists and other researchers developing pennycress and camelina as rotational oilseed crops for the U.S. and Europe and will help target the most suitable areas for their production. The results will also benefit the specialty oilseed industry in both the U.S. and Europe.

Technical Abstract: Thlaspi arvense and Camelina sativa have gained considerable attention as biofuel crops. But in some areas, these species, including C. microcarpa, are becoming rare weeds because of agriculture intensification. Including them as crops could guarantee their conservation in agricultural systems. The fitness (i.e., vegetative and reproductive growth) of two populations of T. arvense, Teruel (Spain) and Minnesota (USA), and one for each C. sativa (Minnesota) and C. microcarpa (Teruel) was studied under different climates (semi-arid Mediterranean and continental temperate) over two seasons. Fitness of all species and populations was highly affected by the final plant density and the climatic conditions at each site and season. T. arvense from Spain and C. microcarpa showed more constant equilibrium in resource distribution patterns than those species or populations with American origin. Results indicate the importance of emergence for crop establishment of these species. Moreover, results showed that environmental conditions significantly affected crop development, indicating that certain sites may be better suited for their production than others. The establishment of T. arvense as a crop in semi-arid regions like that of North-eastern Spain is unlikely without irrigation, while C. sativa could be a good option as a rotational crop regardless of irrigation. In the case of C. microcarpa, although it could be cultivated, its final densities (hence germination and emergence) must be improved in order to establish it as a crop.