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Title: Management of pennycress as a winter annual cash cover crop. A review

item CUBINS, JULIJA - University Of Minnesota
item WELLS, M - University Of Minnesota
item FRELS, KATHERINE - University Of Minnesota
item OTT, MATTHEW - University Of Minnesota
item Forcella, Frank
item JOHNSON, GREGG - University Of Minnesota
item WALIA, MANINDER - University Of Minnesota
item BECKER, ROGER - University Of Minnesota
item Gesch, Russell - Russ

Submitted to: Agronomy for Sustainable Development
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 8/5/2019
Publication Date: 9/4/2019
Citation: Cubins, J.A., Wells, M.S., Frels, K., Ott, M.A., Forcella, F., Johnson, G.A., Walia, M.K., Becker, R.L., Gesch, R.W. 2019. Management of pennycress as a winter annual cash cover crop. A review. Agronomy for Sustainable Development. 39:46.

Interpretive Summary: Pennycress, often called stink weed, belongs to the mustard family and is considered a common weed throughout much of the northern and western U.S. However, since around World War II (1940s), it has been considered as a potential weed species for domestication because of its agronomic potential to produce large amounts of seed and oil for industrial purposes without requiring much fertilizer or other agricultural inputs. It has not been until recently, within the past ten years, that a considerable amount of research has been done to develop pennycress as a cultivated crop in the Upper Midwest. The following review sheds light on what we currently know about the agronomic management of pennycress including how it fits in Midwestern corn and soybean cropping systems, the ecosystem services it provides as a winter annual crop, and the breeding advances that have been made to develop it as a domestic crop. The review also serves to describe what research gaps remain to be filled to advance pennycress as a commercially-cultivated crop. Indeed, most of the current research indicates that pennycress has great potential as a newly developed domestic crop. This information will be highly useful for university extension and other agricultural educators to educate farmers and the general public about the development of this new crop. And, will benefit researchers including crop breeders working to advance the commercialization of pennycress production.

Technical Abstract: Agriculture in the Upper Midwest of the United States is characterized by a short growing season and unsustainable farming practices including low-diversity cropping systems and high fertilizer inputs. One method to reduce the magnitude of these problems is by integrating a winter annual into the summer-annual-dominant cropping system. For this reason, pennycress (Thlaspi arvense) has garnered interest in the agricultural community due to its winter annual growth habit and potential for industrial oil production, which makes it an ecologically and economically desirable crop. Despite decades of research focusing on pennycress as an agricultural pest, little is known about its best management practices as an intentionally cultivated crop. The majority of research on this topic has occurred within the past ten years and there are major gaps in knowledge that need to be addressed prior to the widespread integration of pennycress on the landscape. Here we review relevant agronomic research on pennycress as a winter annual crop in the areas of sowing requirements, harvest, seed oil content and quality, cropping strategies, ecological services, and germplasm development. The major points are as follows: 1) there is little consensus regarding basic agronomic practices (i.e., seeding rate, row spacing, nutrient requirements, and harvest strategy); 2) pennycress can be integrated into a corn-soybean rotation, but further research on system management is required to maximize crop productivity and oilseed yields; 3) pennycress provides essential ecosystem services to the landscape in early spring when vegetation is scarce; 4) breeding efforts are required to remove detrimental weedy characteristics, such as silicle shatter and high glucosinolate content, from the germplasm. We conclude that pennycress shows great promise as an emergent crop; however, current adoption is limited by a lack of conclusive knowledge regarding management practices and future research is required over a multitude of topics.