Government sees strong potential in Valley-grown Camelina

FRESNO, Calif.

/*Camelina*/ is a member of the mustard family. It is not a food crop but the federal government is now seeking farmers willing to grow camelina.

At first glance it looks like this /*Riverdale*/ field has been overrun with weeds. But /*Bill Cox*/ of Wilbur-Ellis sees a great deal of potential in the seven-acre camelina test plot. The golden seed pods hold the key. "So that center spear is coming up. It will branch out and have these seed pods."

Cox has been telling Valley farmers they can make a little money - not a lot - by growing camelina instead of letting unused land sit idle.

He explained, "Inside these pods contain the seed that we're looking for and you just kind of crush them. They're real light. You can barely see them. The wind's kind of blowing them around. Those are the tiny seeds and we crush those seeds and extract the oil."

Cox said fighter jets from /*Lemoore NAS*/ have already used refined fuel produced from extracted camelina oil. "They did a fly-over about three weeks ago on a 100-percent camelina fuel so the U.S. military is the target audience and would be the biggest customer of this."

A new USDA Biomass Crop Assistance Program or BCAP will advance farmers 70-dollars per acre to grow camelina.

Cox said, "I've talked to a handful of growers so far already and the acceptance has been good. The handful so far are going to plant some to a lot."

Cox explained the crop needs just 6 to 8 inches of rain and doesn't need any other irrigation. "The federal government realizes the value of sustainable fuel for the military so they put together a program they call it the BCAP."

Signs up for the BCAP end on September 16th. Cox called the Valley's west side an ideal area to grow camelina because so much land has been fallowed.

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