Monday, November 13, 2006

Determination of Optimum Planting Date of Seven Species of Winter Oilseeds in Mississippi (A Preliminary Study).

D. Scott Horton II1, Brian Baldwin2, and Kyle B. Holmberg1. (1) Dept. of Plant & Soil Sciences, Box 9555, Mississippi State, MS 39762, (2) Box 9555, Mississippi State University, Mississippi State University, Dep. of Plant & Soil Sciences, Mississippi State, MS 39762

High prices for petroleum have enhanced interest in the search for alternative fuels such as ethanol and biodiesel. Biodiesel refers to fuel that is produced from the transesterification of fatty acids from biological sources such as animal fat and vegetable oil. Fatty acids from plants represent a carbon-neutral, renewable source of energy, that is cleaner than petroleum diesel. Mild winters in the South, enable production of important northern spring-planted oilseed crops. This system could generate income for the producer, while stabilizing year-round production of these crops. This research was initiated to determine the optimal fall planting date for seven crops: [black mustard (Brassica nigra), camelina (Camelina sativa), Canola (Brassica napus), crambe (Crambe abyssinica), flax (Linum usitatissimum), hesperis (Hesperis matronalis), and tyfon turnip (Brassica rapa tyfon)] all of which shows potential in southern cropping schemes. Planting consisted of five planting dates of the seven species; commencing on September 8, and concluding November 4. Species treatments were paired, irrigated and non irrigated, and replicated four times. Data was taken for: emergence, date of bolting, and yield. Emergence was highest after October 21 for all species. Lack of rainfall coupled with high temperatures accounted for poor seed germination before October 21 resulting in secondary seed dormancy. After one year, all species survived the winter except crambe which had mortality greater than 99%. Black mustard and camelina had the greatest yield with plantings later than October 21, and November 4, with irrigated rows outperforming the non-irrigated. Highest yields of Canola, flax, and hesperis were observed from earlier plantings, and irrigation increased yield significantly. Tyfon turnip had a highest yield with the September 28, planting. The preliminary year of research suggests that Canola and flax are two species that could be feasible in a southern production system.