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WSU oilseed project reaches 10-year milestone

Posted by struscott | September 14, 2017
Picture of a bright yellow northwest canola field.
The Washington Oilseed Cropping Systems Project has been supporting canola farmers since 2007.

The WSU-based Washington Oilseed Cropping Systems (WOCS) Project has surpassed the 10-year mark since starting in 2007 as part of the Washington State Biofuels Initiative and renewable fuel standard mandate.

The state legislature allotted $395,000 in 2007 to fund research and Extension related to exploring the viability of various crops to supply feedstock to the biofuels market.

Four production zones were identified across the state, and a dozen crops, including camelina, canola, safflower, switchgrass, and mustard were planted in trials.

Fast forward to 2017, and the focus of WOCS has changed with the fuel market. Now, the list of crops has been narrowed down to spring and winter canola, camelina, and safflower; all trials are east of the Cascades; canola acres have increased from 6,000 to 60,000 acres; there is strong local demand for canola; and funding has been reduced to $295,000.

Projects and CAHNRS faculty awarded funding for 2017-18 include:

  • Optimizing seeding population of spring canola – Ian Burke, Crop & Soil Sciences
  • Low rainfall cropping systems including canola and camelina – Bill Schillinger, Crop & Soil Sciences
  • Oilseeds in a four-year rotation in intermediate rainfall regions – Aaron Esser, Adams Co. Extension Director
  • Camelina breeding for herbicide tolerance – Scot Hulbert, Plant Pathology
  • Diseases of canola and camelina – Tim Paulitz, USDA-ARS
  • Subsoil micronutrient supply and winter canola root morphology – Isaac Madsen, Crop & Soil Sciences
  • Interactions between pollinators and canola on the Palouse – David Crowder, Entomology
  • Fertility management in winter and spring canola – Haiying Tao, Crop & Soil Sciences
  • Modification of hypocotyl length and seed size in canola and camelina for improved stand establishment – Michael Neff, Crop & Soils Sciences
  • Integrating livestock into dual-purpose winter canola – Steve Van Vleet, Whitman Co. Extension Educator
  • Extension and outreach to convey research findings to growers, agriculture industry, and agency personnel –Dennis Roe and Karen Sowers, Crop & Soil Sciences

Since 2007, the WOCS Project has involved 40 interdisciplinary faculty and staff and 18 graduate students, developed a series of Extension fact sheets about oilseed production, published 35 research journal papers, received the 2014 CAHNRS Team Interdisciplinary Award, and developed a website, and Facebook page, WSU Oilseeds. Ten years and still going strong!