Wednesday, May 30, 2012

University of Idaho Canola, Rapeseed & Mustard Field Day Planned July 10
MOSCOW – New canola, rapeseed and mustard varieties developed by the University of Idaho College of Agricultural and Life Sciences will be on display July 10 during a field day that will mark plant breeder Jack Brown’s 20th anniversary of leading the program.
The lineup of new cultivars will include two new spring canolas, a spring rapeseed, two yellow mustards, one oriental mustard and two winter canolas. Canola produces a high-quality, heart-healthy edible oil and rapeseed produces a high-quality industrial oil prized as a lubricant.
Brown also will talk about his work with USDA Agricultural Research Service collaborators on a new $10 million, five-year project to improve rapeseed crops for biofuel production.
The field day will display new varieties bred to be herbicide resistant. The new varieties give growers greater flexibility in planting Brassica oilseed crops in rotations with peas or wheat on which either Pursuit or Beyond herbicides respectively may have been applied. Conventional canola varieties cannot be planted following application of the herbicide for up to five years.
The field day also will mark the 10th time Brown has conducted an oilseed field day to allow growers to consider the advantages of adding oilseeds to their crop rotations. The field day will begin at 7:30 a.m. with breakfast and tours starting at 8:30 at the college’s Parker Research Farm about 2 miles east of Moscow on the Troy Highway. The public event is free and includes a sponsored lunch.
Brown’s research shows how the oilseeds can offer growers an alternate crop with multiple uses, ranging from condiment mustard to edible oils to biofuels to livestock feed
In addition to experimenting with canolage – silage made from canola plants – and protein-rich seed meals left over after oil processing, Brown believes canola-wheat and canola-wheat-pea hay can provide valuable livestock forage.
The field day will also showcase Brown’s most recent large-scale project focused on biofuels production. Earlier this year, Brown became part of a team that will assess the USDA Agricultural Research Service’s rapeseed and canola collection and the complete known germplasm pool phenotypically and genotypically.  This research will provide invaluable genetic information that will be utilized by future breeders to genetically improve Brassica oilseed crops.
“We already have the first part of the spring germplasm collection growing in the field and currently being genotyped by rapid-cycle, molecular marker techniques” Brown said.  “When we add an even larger collection of winter germplasm this fall we will have the largest Brassica oilseed germplasm collection in the world to be phenotyped and genotyped,” Brown said. The phenotype is the plant’s physical characteristics: whether it is short or tall or rapid flowering, for example. The genotype is the plant’s genetic catalog, its collection of genes that make it what it is.
“When you have the plants in a collection genotyped, and you know that phenotypically, say 10 percent are short,” Brown said, “You find what those 10 percent have in common genotypically that make them short. And if you can determine those genes, you never have to grow plants to know that it will be short.”
“This can also be achieved with more complex traits like seed yield, oil content and pest resistance,” Brown said. “Identifying genes responsible for good traits allows us to genetically manipulate plants to contain these genes and hence the good traits.”
“Effectively, you can build a genotype into the plant you want,” he said. Genes for more efficient fertilizer use, that govern the plant’s efficiency in capturing sunlight or enhance its ability to adapt to global climate change also await discovery.
Brown’s part of the grant will be growing and gathering accurate information about each of more than 2,000 oilseed plant lines to assess each and creating a detailed genetic profile. Brown’s five-year, $920,000 grant is part of a larger $10 million project.
A related biofuel project will task Brown with growing 100,000 pounds of oil from one of his new varieties, the winter rapeseed variety Durola. The oil will be tested for suitability as the base for a biofuel for U.S. Navy jets.
Durola was designed, Brown said, to produce high yields of non-food grade oil, which can be tailored for bio-jet fuel production and so reduce the processing cost compared to other oils, such as soy, cotton or others.
“It goes without saying that if the Navy starts using even a small amount of jet fuel made from rapeseed oil, that’s an enormous amount of rapeseed oil,” Brown said.
Last year the Navy’s Blue Angels, the elite demonstration flying team, used a mix of half biofuel and half conventional petroleum-based fuel in their high performance jets.
Brown’s collection of rapeseed, canola and mustard plant lines at the University of Idaho rivals the national collection from the ARS seed collection at Ames, Iowa, that he’s evaluating.
The overall goal of his research and the new national project is to create specific oilseed varieties tailored to the end use. In the case of biofuel, the work calls for creating varieties that yield oil with the right stuff – molecular structures that make processing into bio-jet fuel cheaper.

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