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Camelina OK for hen rations

The Canadian Food Inspection Agency has approved the inclusion of 10 percent camelina meal in layer hen rations.

A promoter of the crop hopes that will be enough to convince someone to build a crush facility in Saskatchewan.

The CFIA had previously approved camelina meal for broiler chicken rations at levels of up to 12 percent. The meal enriches the omega-3 fatty acid content of the meat and eggs.

“It’s like flax but it’s not quite as high (in omega-3),” said Jack Grushcow, founder of Smart Earth Seeds, a company promoting the crop.

“But the big difference is the amount of tocopherols.”

Tocopherols are a family of vitamin E compounds that provide another health attribute, as well as stability, to camelina oil.

Smart Earth Seeds contracted about 2,500 acres of the crop in Saskatchewan in 2016.

The seed is shipped to Oregon to be crushed. The oil is sold to aquaculture businesses around the world, while the meal is sold to the American poultry sector.

Grushcow would like to see a processer in Saskatchewan.

“If we’re going to be successful with this crop, we need to increase the locations where camelina can be delivered because a farmer is not going to drive 500 miles with a super-B to drop it off somewhere,” he said.

Grushcow said demand is growing for the oil as a substitute for fish oil in the aquaculture industry. Earlier this year, a customer took an entire rail car full of the oil.

He would like to see growers plant 5,000 to 10,000 acres in 2017 because there is demand for at least that much oil.

He has not set the contract price yet but the crop typically sells in the $10 to $11 per bushel range.

“If we have to compete with commodity prices of things like soybeans and canola we’re not going to be successful,” he said.

The strength of the crop is its oil and meal characteristics, its agronomic advantages and its low input costs. Camelina is early-maturing, can withstand drought and frost, has seed costs of less than $20 per acre and requires less nitrogen fertilizer than canola.

Grushcow said camelina is a good alternative to canola in light, sandy fields where it typically yields about 30 bu. per acre.

It was also forecast to be more profitable than flax in the brown soil zone, according to the 2016 edition of the Saskatchewan Crop Planning Guide.

Most of next year’s crop will to be processed in Oregon, but Grushcow is talking with a couple of Saskatchewan companies that may crush some in 2017.

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