Native from Finland to Romania and east to the Ural mountains. Young plants grow in a rosette form, similar to mache; as plants mature, they stretch into fibrous stalks with branching golden inflorescences like mustard.
Tolerates low fertility and drought, and not very susceptible to pests or disease. Does not like wet feet. Plant when you would plant winter rye, around first fall frost. Late-planted camelina can germinate in spring instead of fall and still produce a crop. Small seeds and delicate seedlings: can be difficult to establish. Seed no more than ½" deep at 5–10#/acre, ¼# per 1000 sq ft. NEW!
As cover crop: Camelina may be interseeded into late-harvested crops without offering as much competition as rye. It is a very effective nutrient scavenger, holding excess soluble nitrogen for the following year’s crops instead of allowing it to leach and damage groundwater quality. Very attractive to bees and other beneficial insects; blooms in early to mid-spring before other nectar-producing flowers. Not very competitive with weeds but it’s a better nutrient scavenger than radishes and tolerates drought better than mustard.
As food: Seed is ready to harvest in early summer. It may be direct-combined but the little seeds easily leak from unsealed cracks and crevices in machinery: liberal use of duct tape is recommended. Camelina seeds are approximately 40% oil by weight. Camelina oil is very high in vitamin E and healthy omega-3 fatty acids. Seed yields in Minnesota are around 1700#/acre.
As feed: Camelina seed meal may be fed as up to 10% of the diet for cattle and chickens. May greatly increase the omega-3 fatty acid content of eggs and dairy products, but it will reduce growth rates in hogs.
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