Organizers say a January conference will address a growing interest in direct seed farming and an “insatiable” oilseed market.
Registration is open for the Direct Seed and Oilseed Cropping Systems Conference, Jan. 20-22 at the Three Rivers Convention Center in Kennewick, Wash.
It’s the first time the Pacific Northwest Direct Seed Association and the oilseed industry have teamed up.
“There are a lot of synergies and complementary topics that can be covered,” said Kay Meyer, executive director of the direct seed association. Oilseed crops are used for soil health and weed management in direct seed systems, she said.
Meyer said interest in direct seeding is increasing, particularly in dry zones because it helps retain more moisture.
Demand for oilseeds is “insatiable,” Karen Sowers, Washington State University research associate, said. The Pacific Coast Canola processing facility in Warden, Wash., is willing to take every acre of canola grown in the Pacific Northwest.
Oilseed acreage reached 30,000 acres in 2013 in Washington, double the number of acres in 2012. Sowers said supporters hope Washington’s acreage will double again in 2014.
In the Pacific Northwest, the number of oilseed acres increased from 110,000 in 2012 to 140,000 this year, she said.
Sowers said the bottom line for oilseed crops depends on the year. This season, oilseeds grossed about 20 cents per pound, which is about even with wheat, she said.
“Then there are the intangible follow-up benefits you can’t really put a number on, like the increased wheat yields the following year, or not needing to use as much weed control or maybe going to a different form of weed control the following year because you were able to manage more of the weeds with a canola crop,” Sowers said.
Sowers advised farmers who are considering oilseed crops to take into account herbicide plant-back restrictions. She said some of them can be addressed with specialized plant traits such as Clearfield canola.
Sowers said she expects the market price for canola to remain competitive with wheat.
“Unless you’ve got a chemical issue, there’s not really a compelling reason not to try it,” she said. “You don’t have to do 500 acres, you can start with 15 or 20.”
Meyer said conference coordinators are sensitive to the fact direct seeding will be new for some attendees.
Speakers at the conference include Dwayne Beck, manager of South Dakota State University’s Dakota Lakes Research Farm; Phil Thomas, author of a Canadian guide for canola growers; and John Kirkegaard, principal research scientist at the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization (CSIRO) in Australia. The conference will include vendors demonstrating precision agriculture, irrigation and diagnostics equipment.
About the conference: http://css.wsu.edu/biofuels/2014Conference/
Register on the Pacific Northwest Direct Seed Association website: http://www.directseed.org/events/annual-conference/