Camelina: Cost of Production - Chris Thorson's Story
Here's an email that Chris Thorson, who farms 6,400 acres in Central Saskatchewan, sent this week to some of his friends and neighbours:
"It's been a bit of a harvest from hell! The combines were sitting a lot during one of many rain or snow delays. And it seemed like as soon as we got going (usually on a Sunday) another major breakdown happened within a couple hours! It's been a long one and I still have 3000 acres on the ground! That said, my Camelina is in the bin! See below for cost of production breakdown on this years Camelina on my farm. I was shocked to say the least. It had a few things going against it and ended up grossing 54 bushels per acre. I was a bit conservative on my COP as I set it at 50 bu/acre. I was expecting 40. I have to say the Camelina did look good! This won't happen every year but this stuff has some great yield potential!
The Camelina was harrowed in on May 21. It was bone dry. Put into dust! It didn't rain until around June 23 - and that's when the crop germinated. So it had a late start but its short growing season looked after that. All it received for fertilizer was JumpStart granular, and 42 actual lbs of N dribbled on July 14th. I had a seed rate trial from 6 lbs/acre up to 12 lbs per acre across the field. This did not affect yield. It adapted very well. Once the crop was mature it received another 3 inches of rain over about 4 days. Then a week later it received about 10 inches of snow. The snow had it flattened but once it melted it did spring back up not too bad. Losses were zero, there was no shelling and combining was not difficult. The quality was not affected either.
So where does camelina fit? It needs to be seeded on stubble that does not have a Group 2 residual. I put it on my cereal stubble. I would say it can replace lentil acres, flax acres, or canola acres on marginal land. Camelina will out-produce anything I have grown on poorer soils just don't expect 50 bu per acre on alkali! It's a low cost of production, and has shown excellent opportunity for high returns. The #1 key to a great Camelina crop that I have experienced over the last 6 seasons growing it is: make sure you have a good clean field to start! Let the weeds grow and get a good burnoff with a product that will look after Roundup volunteers. Key #2 is variety. Smart Earth's Cypress brand has proven the last couple years to have a much higher yield potential than any variety I have grown. It also has a larger seed size that makes seeding and harvesting easier! On another note, this stuff cuts and thrashes very easily!
We would like you to join our team! Give a quarter or a half section a try! We would like to get as many acres signed up early so we have a good idea of what we can provide for our customers that Smart Earth supplies. Markets for Camelina include the aquatic industry (fish farms) the chicken industry (high omega eggs) as well as the equine industry - as a supplement that is proving to work wonders on animals with hip problems as well as making them shine!
BELOW IS THE COST OF PRODUCTION ON THE QUARTER SECTION I HARROWED IN!
Now that I have completed my Camelina Harvest I can give you a hard number of what it made for my farm this year. First of all it yielded well above my expectations! Fifty bu/acre less 5% dockage so 47.5 bu per acre at $11.50/bu! That is $546.25 gross per acre. This makes Camelina the highest paying crop on our 6,400 acre farm this year.
So that is my exact experience with Camelina in 2019. Of course every farmer is different with their input costs which for Camelina can range from $50 to $200/acre.
Fertilizer 42lb act N $22.55/ac
JumpStart Granular $5.54/ac
Assure II $4.95/ac
Edge Granular $17.13/ac
Roller packing $3.30/ac
Spraying 4x $25.00/ac
Valmar/harrow 2x $12.00/ac
Less costs $388.72/ac
I have grown for Smart Earth Seeds for 4 years. Smart Earth has treated me very well and delivery and payment have never been a problem. A Saskatchewan company 16 years strong! Two years ago I teamed up with Smart Earth helping them find new growers. There are still a limited number of 2020 contracts available. Contract price is $11.00/bu ($11.50 for previous growers) with full Act of God, Full production contracts. Straight cut, short season, drought tolerant, plus a new variety of Camelina bred specifically to grow in Saskatchewan: Higher yielding and larger seed than previous varieties! We would like to get contracts signed up early so we know what we can supply! Email here: info@SmartEarthSeeds.com
Thanks, and hopefully you got your harvest off! If not good luck in the coming weeks!"
- Chris Thorson