By MATTHEW WEAVER
When Canada first adopted rapeseed as an industrial crop, it had high erucic acid and glucosinolates, which made the meal leftover of poor value as a feed.
The Canadians reduced the erucic acid by changing two genes, and later reduced the glucosinolates.
"The premise of many people is they believe rapeseed by definition has high erucic acid, which it does have -- that gives it stability as an industrial quality oil," University of Idaho canola, rapeseed, mustard and sunflower breeder Jack Brown said.
Farmers also believe rapeseed is high in glucosinolates, but the two characteristics are independent of one another, Brown said.
In the University of Idaho breeding program, rapeseed cultivars have high erucic acid but are low in saturated fat, in some cases improving milk quality.
They also have low glucosinolates, equal to or better than canola.
"They don't have these feed problems," Brown said.
There are a lot of canola-breeding organizations working in the United States, Brown said, but the university is the only industrial oil rapeseed breeder in the country.
Rapeseed oil has better lubricity and stability, particularly in the presence of water and at high temperatures. In addition to biodiesel, it's traditionally used for steam engines, and makes good surfactants, cutting fluids, printing fluids, paints and biodegradeable plastics.