New Biodiesel Feedstock Brings Promise and Problems

John Davis

Camelina is growing in popularity as a feedstock for biodiesel for its high oil content, hardy nature and short growing season… especially popular in the Northern Plains, such as Montana, where conditions can be a bit tough.

But this story from The Prairie Star, a Great Falls-based publication serving Montana and parts of Wyoming, says researchers are offering some advice to overcome some of the oilseed’s shortcomings:

“What I see is it’s a rotational crop to improve wheat production,” said Kent McVay, cropping systems specialist at the Montana State University’s Southern Agricultural Recearch Center (SARC) in Huntley, Mont.

Weed control, however, can be a major limitation to camelina production, McVay said. Therefore, it is critical to select fields where prior management has led to limited weed pressure and weed seed production.

Camelina is resistant to flea beetles which are an economic pest of canola in Montana environments.

McVay said MSU is studying camelina used in rotation and in long-term rotations. The university is also researching camelina variety trials and water use of the oilseed.

McVay said the oilseed has also been studied at both Huntley and in Wyoming. “It will take a couple of years to really know if you get a yield boost using this type of rotation.

The article points out that, right now, there are no herbicides for camelina. McVay advises growers to cut down the broadleaf leaves if they’re going to rotate this crop.