Biotech Updates

Oilseed Crops as Biodiesel Source

April 18, 2008

Flax, an oilseed crop used in the vegetable soil market is now being considered as a new potential biodiesel crop. Four varieties of flax developed by the breeding partnership betweenTexas Agricultural Experiment Station and Chevron Energy Technology Venture can be found growing in South Texas. These varieties were found to be resistant to the winter cold and can produce seed in the spring. Other oilseed crops which are being evaluated in the College Station for potential biodiesel source are varieties of canola, rapeseed, winter-hearty safflower, and camelina.

Agronomic challenges confront the breeders as these crops have small seeds and must be planted very shallow compared to other traditional crops. In addition, there should be good establishment, weed control, and efficient harvesting strategies as some varieties shatter early and requires timely harvest.  To be considered as a good biodiesel source, the crops should have an oil content of above 40%. A good oil characteristic on the other hand would qualify the crop for vegetable oil potential. "The field data collected on the different varieties in three locations will be used in determining which type of crop is best suited for either the biodiesel or vegetable oil industry", explained Dr. Gaylon Morgan, a small grains researcher and member of the Texas A&M AgriLife project team..