Growers interested in learning about growing camelina for renewable biodiesel have one opportunity Thursday and two on Friday.

The first free workshop will be at 2:30 p.m. Thursday at the Sherman County Senior Center, 300 Dewey St., Moro. Friday's first session is at 10 a.m. in the Morrow County Soil and Water Conservation District conference room, 430 Linden Way, Heppner. The second is scheduled at 3 pm. in Umatilla Hall, Room 100A at Blue Mountain Community College, 2411 N.W. Carden Ave., Pendleton.

Duane Johnson, vice president of agricultural development for Great Plains Oil and Exploration, said camelina is an oilseed crop that can be a profitable component of crop rotations with wheat or other small grains. He said research shows it is well suited to conditions in the Pacific Northwest, requires low inputs of water and nutrients, and reduces disease, insect and weed pressure in wheat fields planted the following year.

Johnson said camelina also presents a unique opportunity to provide a reliable, inexpensive feedstock for the expanding biodiesel industry.

"We are all painfully aware of the recent cost increases of inputs to grow conventional crops," he said, noting the cost of glyphosate, the main ingredient in products such as Round-Up, for example, increased significantly recently.

"If you are concerned about these costs, you should look at a crop like camelina," Johnson said. 'It can provide a net return equal to spring wheat without the high initial outlay of pesticides and a far lower need for nitrogen and we can harvest in July."

Great Plains representatives will be on hand at the workshops to provide growers with information on marketing opportunities. The workshops also will feature discussions on cropping considerations and information on varieties, yields and field trials.

Speakers will include Don Wysocki, Oregon State University soil scientist-agronomist; Stephanie Page, Oregon Department of Agriculture renewable energy specialist; and Richard Cooley, director of operations for the Great Plains Oil Co.

The non-profit Wy'East Resource Conservation and Development Council is sponsoring the workshops. The council creates and implements sustainable agriculture and rural community development projects in the Columbia River Gorge, Mid-Columbia and Central Oregon region.

Debbe Chadwick, the council's executive director asks those who plan to attend to pre-register by contacting the Wy'East RC&D at (541) 923-4358 Ext. 104.

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