Camelina tough sell at MT ag trade show

BILLINGS, Mont. (AP) — Biofuel researcher Duane Johnson didn’t expect to draw a lot of interest in his effort to get Montana farmers to consider growing the oilseed camelina.

With wheat for March delivery selling at over $10 a bushel, farmers are pretty focused on traditional crops.

“Wheat will not always be at that price,” Johnson said Thursday after a presentation at the Montana Agri-Trade Exposition. “At least I hope not, because it’s killing me right now.”

Normally, farmers attending the annual February trade show might be more interested in a product like camelina, which experts say could be Montana’s best inroad to the biofuel industry.

The plant thrives on less than 12 inches of rain a year, winters well and can be planted successfully as early as March 1.

Two biofuel companies banking on camelina have Montana in their sights, and more are said to be coming.

But Montana’s wheat farmers aren’t exactly clamoring to get on board. Earlier this year, the Montana Department of Labor and Industry, through its agro-energy program, offered to reimburse the seed costs of farmers planting camelina for the first time.

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