Agronomic and Economic Performance of Winter and Spring Canola and Rapeseed in Pennsylvania Cropping Systems.
Mary Carol Frier, Penn State, Dept of Crop and Soil Sciences, 116 ASI Building, University Park, PA 16802, Gregory Roth, Pennsylvania State Univ, 116 ASI Bldg, Dept of Crop and Soil Sciences, University Park, PA 16802-3504, and Jayson K. Harper, Penn State Univ, Dept of Ag Economics and Rural Sociology, 214 Armsby Building, University Park, PA 16802.
Interest in biodiesel and biolubricants has recently increased in Pennsylvania, due to high fuel prices, the pollution abatement offered by biodiesel and biolubricants and the construction of new biodiesel manufacturing plants within the state. Soybeans have been the primary feedstock for biodiesel, but canola and other brassica crops could be alternative feedstocks because their seeds have a higher oil content, ranging from 35 to 50%, and produce high quality oil. The high potential of canola and rapeseed necessitates a thorough understanding of their agronomy and fit intoPennsylvania's farm economy. To address these issues, winter canola, spring canola and spring rapeseed trials have been established in Centre County, Pennsylvania; these trials have been used to collect yield, maturity and other agronomic information. In 2006, winter canola yields averaged 2,946 kg/ha while spring canola averaged 1,312 kg/ha. The trials' objectives are 1) to better understand the costs and yield potential of these crops; 2) formulate breakeven prices for these crops given a range of yields and inputs; 3) assess pricing opportunities resulting from local feedstock sourcing as current and planned biodiesel production facilities come on line and 4) compare returns from these brassica crops to alternative crops such as winter wheat, winter barley and soybeans. This study will result in a practical production and market model for canola and rapeseed agriculture for Pennsylvania's farmers.