With one eye on the rain gauge and another on the calendar, some Manitoba farmers are wondering about late-seeding crop options.
Smart Earth Seeds, a Saskatchewan company, says camelina, is one to consider.
There’s a long list of crops, including wheat, barley, oats, flax and buckwheat that can be seeded as late as June 20 and still qualify for full crop insurance coverage.
Greenfeed can be seeded as late as July 15 and be eligible for reduced crop insurance coverage.
Camelina is not currently covered by crop insurance in Manitoba, but Smart Earth Seeds says the ancient oilseed has some advantages, including maturing in 92 to 100 days. That means it can be safely seeded as late as June 15, Christina Eynck, Smart Earth Seeds’ Saskatoon-based camelina breeder said in an interview June 2.
Camelina is in the same brassica family as canola and mustard.
Smart Earth Seeds is still contracting 2015 camelina production. However, farmers have to deliver the crop to either Chaplin or Gull Lake, Sask.
The delivered contract price is $9 a bushel.
Smart Earth Seeds sells camelina seed to contract growers for $3.75 a pound. The recommended seeding rate is five and seven pounds an acre on heavy and light soils, respectively Eynck said. That’s a seeding cost of almost $19 to $27 an acre, reinforcing camelina’s ‘low input cost’ reputation.
The Saskatchewan Ministry of Agriculture says in Saskatchewan camelina yields similar to canola.
“Camelina yields tend to be lower than the other species under adequate precipitation conditions,” the ministry says in a web article. “However, camelina outyielded other brassica species when moisture was limited or untimely. Seed yield of the accessions tested ranged from 1,638 to 3,106 kilograms per hectare over two locations in the Saskatoon area.”
Yields vary depending on whether camelina is grown in stubble or on fallow, Eynck said in an email. In stubble on light soil, yields average 24 to 28 bushels an acre. In fallow it yields 30 to 35 per acre.
On darker stubble soils, camelina will average 30-plus bushels an acre and fallow 35 or more, she wrote.
Manitoba canola yields averaged 34 bushels an acre the last 10 years, according to crop insurance data. Most Manitoba canola is grown on stubble.
Yields can be dragged down by weeds. There are currently no in-crop herbicides for broadleaf weed control registered for camelina, Eynck said in an interview.
Camelina prefers drier conditions and can outyield canola when grown on marginal land, said Scott Chalmers, a Manitoba Agriculture, Food and Rural Development diversification specialist working with the Westman Agricultural Diversification Organization (WADO) out of Melita.
It’s a frost-tolerant crop that has potential for dormant seeding in the fall or early spring, he said.
Camelina is easier to harvest than canola and can be straight cut, Eynck said. However, the seed is smaller than canola so combines need to be adjusted accordingly.
Camelina oil is used for biofuel, polymers and food. It’s high in omega-3 fatty acids, which makes it heart healthy for humans and good fish farm food, she said.
The Canadian Food Inspection Agency has approved camelina meal in chicken feed.
When considering camelina, it’s critical to have a buyer and seed supply, Chalmers said.