Canola as an oilseed crop for New England
Trials were conducted in Orono, Maine, and St. Albans, Vermont, to evaluate the effects of seed rate, row spacing, and N rate on canola yield. Due to logistical limitations, the Orono trials were conducted at the UMaine Roger’s Research Farm near Orono. As in last season’s trials, a seed rate of 6 lbs appeared to be adequate and row spacing between 6 and 18” did not have a strong effect on yield. It appears that a 12” row spacing may be suitable provided soil fertility and weed control are well-managed. Canola showed a stronger response to N up to 120 lbs per acre rate in the Orono trial. White mold pressure was not very significant at the Orono site this past season, so effects of row spacing on disease incidence could not be evaluated. If resources permit, this trial will be repeated in the coming season to gather more data on row spacing by white mold incidence. Winter canola variety trials were again established in Maine and Vermont and are currently in the field. Last year’s planting (Sept. 2007) did not overwinter. Trials looking at response to soil pH and liming were conducted for a second year at the Aroostook Research Farm in Presque Isle, Maine. A workshop for small-scale biodiesel and fuel ethanol production was held at Oakfield, Maine on June 11, 2008. Mr. Matt Rudolf of Piedmont Biofuels, and Mr. David Gordon of Katahdin Cedar Log Homes, Inc., presented information on practical points of biodiesel, and fuel ethanol production, respectively, to 28 growers and interested members of the public. A regional conference focusing on renewable energy on-farm will be held on February 17 and 18, 2009, at Fairlee, Vermont as a follow up to the one that was held last winter in Bangor, Maine (December of 2007). This conference will address oilseed production and on-farm processing of oilseed for fuel and feed. To complement this for northern Maine growers, a smaller meeting was held in Caribou, Maine on December 2, 2008 focusing on canola agronomy. This meeting was held in cooperation with Mr. Vern DeLong who markets canola seed. About 35 canola growers and other interested farmers attended the meeting. Canola agronomy and climate effects on the crop during the 2008 season were reviewed and plans for the 2009 season were discussed.
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: Agronomic trials looking at seed rate, row spacing, and N fertilization were conducted in Maine and Vermont in the 2007 and 2008 seasons.
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 is planned for Feb. 17 and 18 in Fairlee, Vermont (last year it was held in Bangor, Maine). A smaller meeting focusing on canola agronomy was held in Caribou, Maine on December 2, 2008. A biodiesel and fuel ethanol workshop was held in Oakfield, Maine on June 11, 2008.
Milestone 3. Extension fact sheets and publications will be updated with the new research information and made available to growers and agricultural industry.
Progress: This is a work in progress. We plan to complete updated extension factsheets on canola, soybean and sunflower production in the coming year.
Impacts and Contributions/Outcomes
Agronomic trials with canola were completed in 2007 and 2008 and the results are being shared with growers. There is growing interest in small-scale processing of oilseeds for food, feed, and fuel. This is an on-going project. In the coming year we plan to update extension factsheets and if resources permit we will establish another set of field trials to verify results, particularly in regard to row spacing effects on white mold incidence. After the Bangor conference in 2007, some individuals who attended the conference and talked with Mr. Kim Odden about his small-scale oilseed operation took the decision to start a small business in Houlton, Maine that will produce non-GMO canola oil. This new company arranged for the production of non-GMO canola with local growers this past season (2008) and has purchased a press which it is currently setting up and intends to start pressing canola before the end of March, 2009. This was an indirect benefit of the educational outreach funded by this grant.
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