Workshops focus on benefits of growing oilseed crops in Southern High Plains

Staff reports
1/29/10

CLOVIS, N.M. – Farmers are seeing more and more benefits of growing oilseed crops, from the plants’ health benefits to their potential as biofuel. Now, researchers at New Mexico State University are doing oilseed workshops – the next one in Clovis Feb. 5 – to give farmers information about production and marketing opportunities for oilseed crops.

“We are holding these workshops because a lot of people are becoming more interested in oilseed and its importance in the production of biofuel and for human consumption,” said Sangu Angadi, a crop physiologist at the Agricultural Science Center at Clovis. “We want to continue to conduct research on oilseed and present to the public what it is and how oilseed is used in the High Plains and in different areas of the country.”

The workshops are a collaboration between researchers at NMSU, Texas Tech and Texas A&M.

Experts will discuss the opportunities and challenges of oilseeds, including canola, sunflower, safflower and camelina. The workshops are geared to people interested in producing oilseed crops or using them for on-farm fuel production.

Water resources for irrigation are declining in the Southern High Plains and producers are looking for crops using less irrigation water to achieve the long-term sustainability of the agriculture in the region.

Through the workshops, Angadi said, they want to educate the public about the benefits of using oilseed crops as a rotational crop.

A number of oilseed crops have potential in the High Plains, as they are tolerant of heat and water stress.

Both spring and winter crops can be grown in the region. Winter oilseed crops are expected to yield more than spring crops, as their growing season is longer and cooler, reducing heat stress at the critical time when the plants flower.

Because of longer roots that go deeper into the soil, oilseed crops can tap into a level of water other crops do not have access to, making them ideal as a sustainable crop.

Angadi said attendees will learn how to fit oilseed crops into their crop rotation. They will also learn about different economic issues concerning oilseed crops and crop insurance. The workshops are designed to allow for open discussion between the experts and attendees. Representatives in the agriculture industry will give their viewpoints on these oilseed crops. Texas and New Mexico continuing education units are expected to be available for these workshops.

At Clovis, Calvin Trostle, with Texas AgriLife Extension, will talk about safflower and minor oilseeds. Steve Oswalt, with Texas Tech University, will talk about the drought-tolerant sunflower. Angadi will cover winter canola, and Jay Yates, from Texas AgriLife Extension, will talk about production economics.

The workshop is free to the public, and is Feb. 5 at the Agricultural Science Center at Clovis. It will start with a box lunch and registration at noon and will continue until 4 p.m. Angadi asked that people call in advance if they plan on attending, so he has an idea of how many people to prepare for.

For more information, contact Angadi or Mark Marsalis at (575) 985-2292.

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