Feb 2, 2024
Yield10’s Commercial Sales Manager, Davis McCarthy, PAg, answers grower questions about planting, growing, and harvesting Camelina, a new oilseed crop.
Q: Why should I grow Camelina?
A: Camelina sativa, or Camelina, is a short season oilseed crop with certain benefits for growers including cold tolerance, drought tolerance, insect resistance, and the crop’s ability to maintain yield potential in dry conditions when compared to canola and soybeans.
Q: What are Camelina oil and meal used for?
A: There is considerable interest among growers for planting Camelina as a rotation or cover crop that is a source of low-carbon feedstock oil. Camelina seeds are crushed to extract oil for use in transportation fuels including biodiesel, renewable diesel (RD), and sustainable aviation fuel (SAF). The meal produced from crushing Camelina seed contains ALA, an omega-3 fatty acid, which can be used as a feed ingredient for livestock.
Q: What geographies are suitable for Camelina production?
A: Growers contracted by Yield10 have successfully grown Camelina at commercial scale in cropping areas across North America. Yield10 also has contra-seed production across South America in Argentina and Chile. Camelina is a very resilient plant which can survive cold temperatures. Drought tolerance is another significant advantage in many areas as yields for Camelina do not drop as significantly as other oilseeds under moisture-limited conditions. Areas adjacent to canola and soybean production may be particularly suitable for profitable Camelina production.
Q: How does Camelina fit into my crop production schedule?
A: Camelina is ideally seeded with a drill or broadcast seeding equipment. We recommend planting Camelina in early spring as the first crop seeded on the farm because it has the ability to withstand late frosts of -10oC/14o F. The crop also has a relatively short life cycle of 90-100 days, allowing for flowering to occur before the hottest time of year when the crop could otherwise be susceptible to heat blast. Once mature, Camelina’s natural pod-shatter resistance provides an extended window to complete harvest while minimizing losses. Most growers will be in position to harvest spring Camelina in August.
Q: What about growing winter Camelina?
A: Yield10 has developed robust varieties of winter Camelina. Winter Camelina is a fall seeded crop typically planted 6-8 weeks before freezing temperatures arrive. When cold temperatures do arrive, the dormant plants can survive even the harshest winter conditions. Yield10 has seen commercial fields of winter Camelina survive freeze-thaw cycles in Idaho, Montana, and Alberta as well as extreme colds of -40o C/-40o F in Northern Alberta, Saskatchewan, and Manitoba. At the end of the season, harvesting winter Camelina typically occurs in mid-summer, weeks before other spring seeded crops (including spring Camelina, thereby reducing pressure on growers’ harvest window while allowing the opportunity to seed other fall seeded crops.
Q: Are there any special considerations that need to be made for Camelina production?
A: We advise our growers to avoid two conditions when planting either winter or spring Camelina. The crop will be compromised if Camelina is planted into soggy, saturated soils which will leave Camelina with “wet feet” for an extended period of time. In addition, Camelina is highly susceptible to Group 2 herbicide (imidazolinones and sulfonylureas such as Solo®, Odyssey®, and Pursuit®) and Group 14 herbicide (Sulfentrazone such as Authority® and Spartan®) residues still active in the soil.
Q: What are considered best practices for commercial Camelina production?
A: Because Camelina seeds are very small, producers should plant no deeper than ½” with good seed to soil contact to achieve successful germination and emergence. Successfully seeding Camelina in fields with heavy residues can be challenging. Pre-seed herbicide application is recommended and can be completed by applying, or applying and incorporating, Group 3 (ethalfluralin herbicides such as Edge® or Sonalan®). Spraying glyphosate as a pre-seed burn-off is also an effective strategy for weed control.
Q: Which pests or diseases will I need to be most concerned with?
A: In our experience to date, commercial Camelina production has not required the application of insecticides. Flea beetles appear to not like to eat Camelina plants, especially when there are other more desirable plants in the vicinity. Even when Camelina plants are still young, flea beetles appear to prefer other crops to feed on. Grasshoppers have also been found to move on to eat other preferred crops. Lygus and Bertha Armyworms have been seen in-crop but have not produced a loss of yield.
Camelina is susceptible to downy mildew and some sclerotinia has been found in-crop, but due to Camelina’s short life cycle, neither disease has reached the level to which an application of a fungicide has been necessary. We encourage growers to monitor for insects and disease and contact us with any concerns so we can provide advice for pest and/or insect management.
Q: What about controlling broadleaf weeds?
A: In our experience to date, Broadleaves are typically the most difficult weeds to control, but a healthy stand of Camelina can be expected to be competitive against most weed species. Broad spectrum weed control can be achieved using Group 3 herbicide (such as ethalfluralin containing products such as Edge®, 10G® or Sonalan®), while grassy weeds can be successfully controlled in-crop with the application of Group 1 herbicide (products such as ASSuRe® or Centurion® ).
Yield10 plans to commercialize varieties of Camelina with herbicide tolerance for broadleaf weeds as well as for tolerance to Group 2 soil residual herbicide. We will continue to keep growers posted on our progress and plan to launch our first herbicide tolerant Camelina variety as early as 2025.
Q: Do farms need any special equipment for growing Camelina?
A: No. Camelina production can be completed using typical commercial equipment. Seeding can be successfully done with air drills/seeders, planters, as well as broadcast with a floater or Valmar spreader. Camelina crops grow no taller than 4 feet/120 cm so in-crop pesticide application is not limited to the use of any specific equipment. At harvest, most straight cut headers will do the job but draper systems will be most efficient at collecting the small seeds. Swathing/pick-up headers can also be effectively utilized and will ensure dry-down as well as uniformity. For transportation, specific handling equipment is not needed as both augers and conveyors are able to move Camelina seeds. Camelina’s small seed size and compact shape flow easily in bins and trucks so if you have any holes in your equipment, you will quickly find them.
Q: How much does it typically cost to grow Camelina?
A: Camelina production typically costs about half the amount required to produce other competitive oilseeds. Seed cost is set well below that for canola and soybean with recommended fertilizer rates also costing 60% or less in comparison. Reduced reliance on pesticide application helps to save on chemical, fuel, labor, and equipment repair, decreasing growers’ investment to maintain yield potential.
Q: How much can I expect to make with Yield10’s grower program?
A: Yield10 provides contracts which are 100% offtake and have Act of God coverage. Growers will find Yield10’s contracts for Camelina to be priced competitively in comparison to other oilseeds with lower input costs retaining net profit on production and Act of God coverage protecting growers from incurring financial penalties from lack of production.
Q: How can I learn more details about Yield10’s Camelina?
A: Contact Yield10 via our Grower Portal on yield10bio.com, email firstname.lastname@example.org, or call 1-844-Y10SEED (1-844-910-7333) and we will be more than happy to go through all the details of our Camelina grower program with you.
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