Canola as an oilseed crop for New England

Project Overview

Project Type: Research and Education
Funds awarded in 2007: $78,867.00
Projected End Date: 12/31/2010
Region: Northeast
State: Maine
Project Leader:
Peter Sexton
University of Maine Cooperative Extension
Andrew Plant
University of Maine Coope

Annual Reports


  • Agronomic: barley, canola, corn


  • Crop Production: conservation tillage
  • Education and Training: on-farm/ranch research, participatory research
  • Energy: bioenergy and biofuels
  • Farm Business Management: whole farm planning, new enterprise development, budgets/cost and returns
  • Production Systems: general crop production

    Proposal abstract:

    Canola is a relatively new crop for New England and the Northeast. It has utility both for producing high-protein seed meal for dairy rations as well as for producing oil for production of biodiesel. It also has a well-developed market as a cash crop for sale outside the region. In order to address grower interest in this crop and to refine agronomic recommendations, we propose to conduct a series of on-farm trials in Maine and Vermont. We would evaluate seed rate, row spacing, nitrogen rates, and no-till establishment of canola. We feel that white mold incidence in canola will lessen at wider row spacings and lower rates of N, but this is a point that needs evaluation. Our group would also conduct research-station trials at the Aroostook Research Farm in Maine to look at pH, suitability of winter canola, and long-term rotation effects on white mold incidence. We propose to hold grower conferences in Vermont and Maine in order to deliver the information developed locally, and also as an opportunity to bring in outside expertise as appropriate to deliver information directly to growers. For this project, we are requesting a total budget of $78,867 over a three year period. Of this, $50,668 is for on-farm trials and extension work (split between investigators in Vermont and Maine - $10,700 of this is for grower conferences to be held on Vermont and Maine); $28,199 is for research-station trials in Maine.

    Performance targets from proposal:

    Milestone 1. On-farm trials will be established in Maine and Vermont to refine and verify stand establishment and crop management recommendations for canola in New England. Results will be reviewed with growers and trials modified to continue to meet the needs of the growers.

    Milestone 2. Grower conferences will be held in Maine and Vermont to disseminate information to farmers. Results of on-farm research will be shared and speakers will be invited from outside the region to share their experience. Local farmers will also share their canola growing experiences with other farmers.

    Milestone 3. Extension fact sheets and publications will be updated with the new research information and made available to growers and agricultural industry.

    Performance targets:
    1) At least two farmers in Maine and Vermont will be recruited as project partners with
    Extension to help conduct canola research trials and guide research directions

    2) Of the 450 potato farmers in Maine, and the 1,150 dairy farmers in Vermont, 80% will be
    aware of canola as a potential rotation crop and have received information on its production.

    3) Using data from plot research and research partners, twenty of the 1,600 Vermont and Maine
    farms will successfully invest in growing, harvesting and utilizing grains on over 1,000 acres to improve the sustainability of their farm operations through the development of more
    integrated, profitable and environmentally sound farming systems.

    4) Using data from plot research and research partners, 50 of the 1,600 Vermont and Maine farms will improve yield and/or reduce production costs by 10 %. Optimizing row spacing and N rates for control of white mold will potentially decrease fungicide costs which will save $25 an acre. An increase in yield of 10 % achieved through this research would also increase income by about $25 an acre. We conservatively estimate 3500 acres of canola to be grown in New England in 2007. If the potential to add value to the canola crop comes to fruition (in the form of biodiesel for energy and canola meal for dairy farmers), we anticipate that canola production could exceed 18,000 acres in a few years time. In the former case (current canola area at 3500 acres) then we project this project, once extended throughout the region, would have a value of $ 87,500 annually for the region. If the acreage increases to 18,000 acres, then we would project a value of $ 450,000 annually (i.e. $25 per acre times 18,000 acres).

    Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the view of the U.S. Department of Agriculture or SARE.