U.S. camelina research centre benefits Canada

North America’s largest camelina research program is getting bigger.Sustainable Oils officially opened its new research facility in Bozeman, Montana, last week to produce new varieties for growers in the United States and Canada.The breeding centre doubles the company’s laboratory and office space and adds a seed processing lab where researchers can analyze seeds for oil and protein content.”The benefit is going to be almost immediate because this effort is going to allow us to speed development of our breeding material,” said Fernando Guillen, manager of Sustainable Oils’ breeding program and the Bozeman research centre.The company has planted nearly 20 acres of camelina in its breeding nursery and field testing plots this spring, nearly double last year.Guillen said Sustainable Oils has spent more than $250,000 on breeding and field-testing since the research program began in 2006. Breeding material has been tested in a dozen U.S. states and Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba.Canadian field-testing has been restricted to Saskatchewan for the past two years because of the costly U.S. field-testing program that spans nearly the entire country.However, Guillen said Canada remains in the company’s plans as a targeted area for production. Sustainable Oils has contracted 6,000 acres in Canada in 2010, mainly in Saskatchewan, and 10,000 acres in Montana and North Dakota.The company sells its production through contracts it has with the U.S. military and airline industries, which test the oil as a fuel source.With a 40 percent increase in the company’s annual research budget, Guillen anticipates expanded field testing of experimental camelina lines in Saskatchewan.