Workshops focus on oilseed crops
Sessions will cover latest research in production
By MATTHEW WEAVER
Registration begins Dec. 10 for three one-day workshops focusing on oilseed crop production in Washington state.
Washington State University and USDA Agricultural Research Service researchers will offer sessions from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Jan. 25 at the Okanogan Armory in Okanogan, Wash.; Jan. 26 at the Reardan Community Building in Reardan, Wash.; and Jan. 27 at the Colfax Hill Ray Plaza in Colfax, Wash.
WSU professor of soil science Bill Pan said the workshops will supply the latest information and provide a forum for growers and industry members to share their experiences, he said.
"Growing oilseeds is not exactly like growing wheat," Pan said.
Oilseeds have different basic biology and optimal growing conditions, which means new management systems for establishing stable, productive crops.
"It's taken us over 100 years to perfect wheat production," Pan said. "It's going to take a little time, patience and continued strong public-private partnership to get us to where we want to be" with oil seeds.
The state biofuel-cropping systems project is completing its third year, Pan said. It was designed to meet building demand for food, fuel and feed in the state. The demand presents an opportunity for diversifying sustainable crop production systems, Pan said.
Canola prices make it economically competitive with other rotational crops.
Project participants have gained "tremendous insights" into the opportunities and challenges of oilseed production, Pan said.
Through grower interviews and field and laboratory research, researchers have narrowed their focus to key opportunities in the major growing regions to find where oilseeds will best fit into crop rotations and production systems.
"There's actually not been a lot of acreage of these crops grown in the state of Washington," said WSU crop scientist Dennis Roe.
In 2009, the Farm Service Agency indicated there were 7,400 acres of the crops, less than 1 percent of farmland. That number hasn't changed much since 2009, Roe noted.
Following the workshops, Pan plans to continue research and outreach activities promoting oilseed production in Washington, publishing grower case studies and management guidelines.
Oilseed research plots in Pullman, Ralston and Okanogan will continue, Roe said.
The workshops include a hosted lunch at noon.