Canola as an oilseed crop for New England
On-farm trials were conducted in Washburn, Maine, and St. Albans, Vermont, to evaluate the effects of seed rate, row spacing, and N rate on canola yield. A seed rate of 6 lbs appeared to be adequate provided there was good weed control. Row spacing between 6 and 18” did not significantly affect yield in these studies. Canola showed a weak response to N up to 90 lbs per acre rate. These trials need to be repeated to confirm results and evaluate season to season variability. Winter canola variety trials were established in Maine and Vermont and are currently in the field. Trials looking at response to soil pH and liming were conducted at the Aroostook Research Farm in Presque Isle, Maine. A regional conference focusing on renewable energy on-farm was held in Bangor, Maine on December 3 and 4th of 2007. Rather than dilute resources with two smaller conferences in Maine and Vermont, it was decided to hold one large conference in Maine in 2007 and another large one in Vermont in 2008. At the Bangor conference, presentations were made on canola, sunflower, and corn production, on crushing oilseeds on-farm and producing biodiesel, on use of corn stoves and energy conservation, and on utilization of manure for methane production. Unfortunately, a snowstorm (which dropped more than 12” of snow) occurred during the conference and limited attendance. Nevertheless more than 50 people attended the conference including farmers from Vermont, New Hampshire, and Maine. In addition to funding from the USDA-SARE program, the conference was supported by Cool-Air Clean-Planet. Invited speakers came from the University of Minnesota, Indianhead Technical College in Rice Lake, Wisconsin, and Pennsylvania State University. Most of the presentations are available on-line at http://www.umaine.edu/umext/potatoprogram/upcoming/Renewable%20Fuel%20conference.doc
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).
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.
Progress: On-farm trials looking at seed rate, row spacing, and N fertilization were conducted in Maine and Vermont in the 2007 season.
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.
Progress: A regional conference was held for growers on Dec. 3 and 4 in Bangor, Maine. Although a snowstorm created some difficulties, farmers from Vermont, New Hampshire and Maine attended the conference which included speakers from Wisconsin, Minnesota, and Pennsylvania as well as local researchers and farmers who shared their experiences.
Milestone 3. Extension fact sheets and publications will be updated with the new research information and made available to growers and agricultural industry.
Progress: We have not yet updated extension factsheets as we only have one season’s data. We expect to update and create new publications at the end of next season when there will be data from two seasons.
Impacts and Contributions/Outcomes
On-farm trials with canola were completed in 2007 and the results shared with growers at a regional conference held in Bangor, Maine. To increase outreach potential, presentations made at the conference (provided the author gave consent) have been posted on the internet (http://www.umaine.edu/umext/potatoprogram/upcoming/Renewable%20Fuel%20conference.doc). This is an on-going project. In 2008 we plan to continue with canola field trials and to organize another grower conference in Vermont to complement the one held in Maine this year.
Field Crops and Nutrient Management Specialist
University of Vermont Extension
278 So. Main St., Suite 2
St. Albans, VT 05478
Office Phone: 8025246501
Washburn, ME 04786
Soil and Water Quality Specialist
University of Maine Cooperative Extension
495 College Ave.
Orono, ME 04469
Office Phone: 2075813241
Professor of Agronomy
University of Maine
114 Deering Hall
Orono, ME 04469
Office Phone: 2075812943