Concurrent Session 3D
New Winter Annual Oilseeds are Promising Alternative Crops for Food, Feed, and Biofuel in California.
Stephen Kaffka, UC ANR Cooperative Extension Agronomist, Dept. of Plant Sciences, UC Davis
California has the most diverse and valuable agricultural sector in the US, but this could be jeopardized as the climate becomes hotter, drier and more variable due to climate change. A proposed adaptation strategy to climate change involves the increased use of cool-season crops. However the majority of crops available to California growers are warm-season species so a need exists for additional cool-season crops.
Canola is the third most important oilseed globally, it can be grown as a cool season crop and is commonly used to diversify cereal-dominated cropping systems. There is little commercial canola production in California but there are large potential markets that could be exploited by Californian growers. Canola oil is widely used for human consumption and canola seed meal is already used commercially to feed poultry, pigs, dairy- and beef-cattle. Current demand for both oil and meal in the United States exceeds domestic production.
Biofuels are needed to meet California’s requirements for low carbon fuels under the Low Carbon Fuel Standard. California currently has 12 companies producing biodiesel, which would benefit from additional supplies of locally-produced vegetable oils.
We focus on canola because it is generally higher yielding and has received greater a R&D effort than other species, but it can become unreliable in low rainfall conditions and there are also agro-ecological circumstances where it may not be compatible with existing rotations. Under these circumstances other oilseed species may be better choices for local growers. So along with canola it is worthwhile investigating other winter oilseed species in the state, especially Camelina which has smaller resource demands and a shorter growing season.