The goal of Sustainable Oils’ breeding program is to develop new varieties of camelina to benefit both growers and end-users. Growers are looking for varieties with higher yields and improved agronomic characteristics, such as heat and drought tolerance, resistance to pod shattering. Biofuel end-users benefit from higher oil content, and livestock producers who will feed camelina meal are looking for increased protein and oil content.
Developing a new variety of camelina through traditional breeding typically takes 10-12 growing cycles. Each generation of plants are carefully analyzed for yield and agronomic characteristics as well as oil and protein content. Currently, Sustainable Oils has more than 3,000 experimental lines derived from more than 200 breeding populations, or pools of genetic material, available to identify and select superior elite lines.
Sustainable Oils’ primary camelina breeding nursery is located near Bozeman, Montana. However, the climate in Montana only allows camelina to be planted and harvested once a year, limiting the speed at which researchers can develop higher-yielding new varieties. To develop superior varieties more quickly, Sustainable Oils utilizes winter breeding nurseries in Yuma, Arizona, and in Chile.
In the Yuma winter breeding nursery, researchers can grow another generation of plants during the winter months. Plants are grown under specific crop management protocols and the harvested seeds are analyzed for agronomic and seed quality attributes, then the top-performing varieties are selected to continue in the breeding program. In addition the Yuma program allows Sustainable Oils to test camelina varieties for performance under heat and drought stressed conditions.
In winter 2009, Sustainable Oils became the first camelina research company to begin field operations in Chile. The goal of the South American research program is to multiply seed of our most advanced breeding lines during the winter, so the next generation of seed can be shipped back to the U.S. for spring planting. The Chile program also allows Sustainable Oils to analyze the agronomic performance of camelina varieties in response to growing conditions in the southern hemisphere.
|Aerial view of camelina breeding nursery near Bozeman MT||Planting camelina breeding nursery near Bozeman MT|
|Camelina breeding nursery near Bozeman MT||Winter nursery in Yuma AZ|