Tuesday, November 3, 2009
Convention Center, Exhibit Hall BC, Second Floor
Biodiesel production in
Pennsylvania is increasing to over 275 million liters annually. This industry will demand substantial amounts of vegetable oil feedstock, primarily from soybean. Canola could be an alternative feedstock because its oil content is double that of soybean; its oil contains high levels of desirable monounsaturated fatty acids. In addition, canola meal is a high protein livestock feed, especially for dairy cows. Canola can also be grown as a winter annual or annual crop. As a new crop, the yield and economic potential of canola is not well documented in the Northeast, especially compared to soybean and winter wheat. To assess its performance, spring canola was evaluated in Centre, Lancaster and Tioga Counties in 2007. In 2007, spring canola yields were significantly different by location, averaging 1,436 kg ha -1 in Lancaster County, 1,931 kg ha-1 in Centre County and 2,459 kg ha-1 in Tioga County, with 44.1% total oil. Temperatures above 32o C during pod filling were an important factor in the low yields in Lancaster County. Variation in crop maturity resulted in yield losses due to shattering and quality losses due to immature oilseed. Despite yield variation among locations, four of the 12 varieties evaluated were consistently high yielding across locations. In National Winter Canola Variety Trials, canola averaged 3, 154 kg ha-1 , with total oil at 44.9%, when evaluated in Centre County, Compared to the Pennsylvania state average soybean yield of 2,758 kg ha-1, canola generally produces equivalent profits when its yield is about 2,522 kg ha-1. Compared to statewide winter wheat yields averaging 3,565 kg ha-1, winter canola yields result in equivalent profits at 3,363 kg ha-1, due to the sale of straw. Based on these trial performances, the best yielding canola varieties are viable alternative crops in farm rotations.