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Oil Seed: Canola, Mustard, Sunflower, Safflower, and Flax

Thomas G Chastain George Hyslop Professor of Crop and Soil Science CSS 330

Oil Seed Crops Oil seed crops are grown specifically for the production of food and industrial oils that are found in high concentrations in the seed. The oils are used for cooking, as an ingredient in pre-prepared and packaged foods, and as a dietary supplement. Most of the edible oils harvested from oil seed crops can also be used as biolubricants and as the feedstock for biodiesel. Five food oil-seed crops have been commercially grown in the Pacific Northwest: canola, mustard, sunflower, safflower, and flax.

Sunflower crop

Oil Seed Crops The oil is extracted from the seed by crushing using a cold-press or by expeller-pressing followed by solvent extraction. The meal remaining after oil extraction, if edible (low glucosinolates), is a highprotein source of livestock feed. The meal can also be used as a soil amendment, and as a biopesticide.
Commercial oil seed crusher at Willamette Biomass Producers at Rickreall

Canola meal after oil extraction by pressing

World Food Oil Production

Rank Oil Crop Oil Production (million metric tons)

2 3 4

Soybean Canola Sunflower

36.1 21.2 13.1

6 7 8

Palm Kernel
Peanut Cottonseed Coconut

5.3 4.8 3.7




Source: FAO 2011

Major Production Areas and Statistics

Top 5 oil producing countries in 2009 Rank 1 2 Canola China Germany Sunflower Russia Ukraine Flax China Belgium Safflower India USA

4 5

Canada France

Turkey France

Ethiopia India

Kazakhstan Australia

Source: FAO 2011

Major Production Areas and Statistics

World Production Statistics for Oil Seed Crops

Crop Canola Sunflower Flax Safflower

Seed Production (million metric tons)

61.6 32.0 2.2 0.65

Crop Harvested (million hectares)

31.0 23.9 2.3 0.73

Seed Yield (metric tons/ha)

1.99 1.34 0.94 0.89





Source: FAO 2011

Canola Canola (Brassica napus var. napus, B. rapa) is an oil seed crop in the mustard family. Oil concentration in the seed often exceeds 45%. 19 pounds of canola seed will yield one gallon of oil. Origin. Canola was bred for human consumption from rapeseed - first released in Canada in the 1970s. Canola is different from rapeseed in that the oil is low in erucic acid and the meal is low in glucosinolates. Nutrition. The oil is low in saturated fats, and has health-promoting levels of omega-3 fatty acids.
Winter canola crop in flower near Corvallis (above), and seed (right).

Canola Morphology. Both spring and winter annual forms of this plant are in commercial production worldwide. The inflorescence is a raceme and the fruit is a silique (pod). The seeds are contained in the silique.

Canola foliage (left), raceme with many siliques (top)

Canola Production. Time of planting is important as later plantings give poorer seed yields. In the Willamette Valley, winter canola will yield 2,500 to 4,800 lbs per acre, spring canola will yield 2,000 lbs per acre. Oil yield ranges from 80 to 200 gallons of oil per acre.



2500 Seed Yield (lbs/acre)



1000 y = -0.0167x2 + 24.15x - 5850.1 R = 0.8654


0 400 500 600 700 800 900

GDD from planting until December 1

Time of planting effects on canola seedlings (right), relationship of canola seed yield to planting time(top).

Canola Production. Canola seed production is responsive to nitrogen fertilizer in the spring, more so in wet years than in dry years. Major diseases of canola include sclerotinia stem rot and black leg while the cabbage seedpod weevil is an important insect pest of canola.

Seed Yield (lbs/acre)

4000 3000 2000 1000 0 0 50 100 150 Wet Dry

Spring N (lbs/acre)
Cabbage seed pod weevil (Ken Gray photo-right), relationship of canola seed yield to spring N fertilizer(top).

US Canola Production

European Canola Production

One dot = 1000 acres

Canola Crop Improvement. Canola was developed by conventional breeding methods, but in recent years, many of the cultivars have been developed for herbicide resistance (GMO). Non-GMO cultivars are available and have yields that are equivalent or better than GMO types
Seed yield (lbs/acre) of non-GMO winter canola cultivars*

Cultivar 2005 2006 2007

Athena Ceres Virginia 4491 2663 2762 3872 2416 ---2988 Baldur 4650 2383 3173 Kronos 4331 2789 2471

3102 3001 -2640 3090

2317 2498 -2259 2420

2395 2444 -2490 2750 Hybrid cultivar
Winter canola cultivar evaluation trials at Hyslop Farm

Mustard Mustard (Brassica hirta, B. juncea and Sinapsis alba) are oil seed crops in the mustard family. Oil concentration in the seed is 27%. Origin. Native of Europe, mustards have been in cultivation for more than 4000 years. Nutrition. A powerfully-flavored cooking oil that has good levels of omega-3 fatty acids. Also used in production of condiment mustard and as a spice.
Yellow mustard (Sinapsis alba) crop in flower (top), yellow mustard seed (right).

Mustard Morphology. A spring annual , very similar in appearance to canola. The crop grows quickly and matures about 4 months after planting. Production. Mustard is a very competitive crop and has less need for weed control than many other crops. Seed yield for the crop ranges from 1,500 to 2000 lbs./acre in the Willamette Valley. High glucosinolate content in meal makes the meal unsuitable for animal feed, but may have a place in the natural pest control market.
Mustard seedling(top), closed crop canopy (right).

Sunflower Sunflower (Helianthus annuus ) is an oil seed crop in the sunflower family. Oil concentration in the seed ranges from 40 to 50%. Origin. Native to Central America, sunflower has been in cultivation for about 4000 years, and has been grown for oil since the 1700s. Nutrition. The fatty acid profiles in the oil can vary among cultivars (some are high in oleic acid, others in linoleic acid) but have low levels of saturated fats.
Sunflower head (top), seed (right).

Sunflower Morphology. Annual plant with simple leaves. Inflorescence is a head consisting of ray and disk flowers. The fruit is an achene Production. Sunflower oil yields under irrigation range from 90 to 100 gallons per acre.

Sunflower plant (top), irrigated sunflower field near LaGrande (left).

Sunflower global oil seed production areas

Safflower Safflower (Carthamus tinctorius) is an oil seed crop in the sunflower family. Oil concentration in the seed ranges from 30 to 50%. Origin. Native to Asia and Africa, safflower has been cultivated for dyes since the time of the ancient Egyptians, but production for oil began in the 1950s. Nutrition. The oil is high in linoleic acid, and low in other saturated fats. Production. Safflower oil yields under irrigation range from 57 to 94 gallons per acre. Without irrigation, safflower oil yields can drop to 12 gallons per acre.
Safflower flower (top) and plants (bottom).

Flax Flax (Linum usitatissimum) is an oil-seed crop in the flax family (Linaceae). Oil concentrations in the seed range from 30 to 45%. Flax seed is the source of linseed oil and used in paints, stains, and linoleum flooring. Origin. The crop was domesticated about 7000 years ago and was grown by the ancient Egyptians. Nutrition. The oil is the best source for linolenic acid, an omega-3 fatty acid. Both the meal and the seed are also edible, and are used in baked foods. Production. Spring and winter annual crops. Spring flax yields range from 600 to 1500 lbs/acre while winter flax can yield up to 2000 lbs/acre. Fiber flax is grown for linen fabrics.

Flax flowers near Corvallis (Garbacik photo-above), seed (left).

Camelina Originating in Europe, Camelina sativa is a spring annual oil seed crop in the mustard family. Seed is very small, about 1/3 the size of canola. Oil concentration in the seed is 40%. Nutrition. High in omega-3 fatty acids and antioxidants, will be an increasingly important food oil. Has potential as aviation fuel feedstock. Production. Seed yields range from 1000 to 1800 lbs./acre in the Willamette Valley. Production of camelina is now underway in several western states including Montana and Oregon.

Camelina pods (top) and seed (left).

Seed Yield (lbs/acre)

Camelina Production. Has peculiar response to date of planting best seed yields are from planting in midwinter, even on snow!

2007-08 2008-09

1600 1200 800 400 0 -150







Day of Year Camelina seed yield response to planting date in the Willamette Valley (top), downy mildew disease on camelina (left).