Northwest Crops and Soils Program : University of Vermont

University of Vermont


Intro to Oilseeds Projects | Oilseed Research Reports | Articles

Workshop & Conference Proceedings | Links | Videos | Photos

The Northwest Crops & Soils Program developed a new versatile harvesting tool for small-scale oilseed production. View this YouTube Video to see a customized small-scale swather.

Oilseeds Webinar
UVM Extension Ag Engineer Chris Callahan and Penn State researcher Doug Schaufler teamed up to present a webinar on pressing oilseed crops for biodiesel and human consumption. You can access a PDF of the presentation by clicking here.

The 2014 Annual Oilseed Producers Workshop was A BIG SUCCESS!
Thank you very much for attending the Oilseed Workshop on March 3! We had 43 attendees from across the Northeast– the list included growers, processors, energy consultants, homesteaders, bureaucrats, and researchers. You can find conference proceedings here.


Fact Sheets



Oilseeds, such as sunflower and canola, are swiftly becoming a new diversifying crop for farming operations in Vermont.  Oil extracted from the oilseeds is being used for on-farm fuel production, and the leftover meal is pelleted and used as a high protein livestock feed.  Farmers are getting two bangs for their buck!  Alternatively a few farmers are growing the oil and selling a high value food-grade culinary oil.  The goal of our Extension program is to develop best practices for oilseed production in a temperate climate.

We compiled research and agronomic advice for sunflower and canola growers into the publication “Oilseed Production in the Northeast,” which is designed to provide basic information on planting, production, pest management, harvesting, and processing seed. Because oilseed crops are relatively new to the Northeast, making use of regional research is key to establishing a good crop.


Curious about the growers who are making oilseed production work here in Vermont? Click on this link to read profiles on some of the conventional and organic farms that are successfully growing oilseed crops for feed, fuel, and/or food.

In 2013, researchers from UVM Extension and Penn State University Extension evaluated six different designs of small-scale oilseed presses. All of the presses are being used on farms now for cold-pressing crops like sunflower, canola, and soybeans. Researchers wanted to capture some of the knowledge of current producers and also help develop best practices for these mills. You can find out more by reading the full report or watching the video. Hannah Harwood and Chris Callahan presented some of their results at the 2014 Annual Oilseed Producers Meeting; their report is available here.

Vermont Oilseed Crop Production Cost and Profit Calculator Release 1.4 (xls).  Brought to you by a joint effort between UVM Extension and the Vermont Sustainable Jobs Fund. As Part of the VSJF’s ongoing Vermont Biofuels Initiative and UVM Extension’s research, this tool is intended to help farmers determine their total cost of production for oilseeds and oilseed products (e.g. meal, oil, biodiesel.)  The tool also allows the user to determine a potential profit based on assumed market pricing for these products.  Summary results are provided as reference and are based on either compiled Vermont oilseed grower data or other published data from other parts of the USA.  Whenever possible, the user should carefully review their own specific data to arrive at the entered information.

If you’re curious about the economic viability of oilseed crops in Vermont, please take a look at this recent report Vermont’s On-Farm Oilseed Enterprises from the Vermont Sustainable Jobs Fund’s Vermont Bioenergy Initiative. The report provides an in-depth look into some of the costs of production, equipment, and facilities involved in producing fuel with homegrown oilseeds, including figures on break-even prices, profitability, and market values.

The Farm Fresh Fuel Project, which took place in Grand Isle County, Vermont in 2012 as a pilot project, aims to involve as many farmers as possible in the production of oilseed crops. By focusing on this one VT county, where farmers and community members are involved in implementation and delivery, oilseed crop yields will be improved and more farmers will adopt the practice of growing sunflowers and canola, specifically. For more information on 2012 results, click here.













2013 HGM Black Bean Report (pdf)

2013 HGM and Potato Trial (pdf)

2013 National Sunflower Survey (pdf)

2013 Oilseed Meal and Sweet Corn Report (pdf)

2013 Sunflower Insect Monitoring Projects (IPM) Report (pdf)

2013 Sunflower Interseeding Report (pdf)

2013 Sunflower Planting Date Trial (pdf)

2013 Sunflower Reduced Tillage Trial (pdf)

2013 Sunflower Variety Trial (pdf)

2012-2013 Winter Canola Survival (pdf)


2012 National Sunflower Survey (pdf)

2012 Sunflower Variety Trial (pdf)

2012 Sunflower Planting Date (pdf)

2012 Sunflower Population x Nitrogen Rate Trial (pdf)

2012 Organic Soybean Variety Trial (pdf)

2012 Winter Canola Planting Date Trial (pdf)

2012 Winter Canola Variety Trial (pdf)

2012-2013 Winter Canola Survival (pdf)


2011 Sunflower Seeding Rate X Nitrogen Rate Trial (pdf)

2011 National Sunflower Survey, VT summary (pdf)

2011 National Winter Canola Variety Trial (pdf)

2011 Sunflower Variety Trial (pdf)

2011 Sunflower Planting Date Trial (pdf)

2011 Sunflower Tineweeding Trial (pdf)

2011 Organic Soybean Variety Trial (pdf)

2011 Soybean Tineweeding Report (pdf)

2011 Winter Canola Variety Trial (pdf)

2010 National Canola Variety Trial (pdf)

2010 Vermont Tineweeding Report (pdf)

2010 Sunflower Variety Trial Report (pdf)

2010 Sunflower Seeding Rate x Nitrogen Rate Study (pdf)

2010 Winter Canola Variety Trial (pdf)

2009 Oilseed Meal Report– Assessing the Value of Oilseed meals for Soil Fertility and Weed Suppression (pdf)

2009 Sunflower Report (pdf)

2009 Canola Report (pdf)

2009 Tineweeding Report (pdf)

2008 Sunflower Report (pdf)dotted-line-large


Small-Scale Oilseed Production, by Renee Ciulla for the Rodale Institute – December 17, 2012

Technical Feasibility of Small-Scale Oilseed and On-Farm Biodiesel Production: A Vermont Case Study, in the Journal of Extension – December 2012

Oilseed Crops Give Farmers Options, by Andrea Suozzo in the Addison County Independent – August 2, 2012

Who Will This Feed? Local Grain and Oil Production in Vermont, by Elizabeth Ferry in Local Banquet – Spring 2009


Farm Fresh Fuel, by Joshua Brown – March 7, 2007


2014 Oilseed Producers Workshop


2013 Oilseed Producers Meeting



2012 Oilseed Producers Meeting

Oilseed Cost and Profit Calculator designed by Chris at Callahan Engineering, PLLC and downloadable for free
Oil Crops Outlook from the USDA
Mobile biodiesel trailer designed by the nonprofit GreenStart, based in NH

Notes from 2011 Oilseed Producers Meeting (pdf)

Notes from 2010 Oilseed Producers Meeting (pdf)


New England On-Farm Energy Conference 2010 Manchester, NH

Contact information for conference speakers can be found in their individual presentations



Check out this factsheet (pdf) for more information on crop insurance for oilseed crops. You can also contact Pam Smith at UVM Extension to find out more.

Sunflowers for Biofuel Production– A link to eXtension webpage with information on sunflowers current potential for use as a biofuel, biology/ adaptation, production, pest management, harvest and storage, and production yields.  Contributors include Vern Grubinger, UVM Extension Vegetable and Berry Specialist and our own team members Heather Darby, UVM Extension Agronomist and Philip Halteman, former Northwest Crops and Soils Technician.

Vermont Sustainable Jobs Fund Projects – Includes helpful information about oilseed production in Vermont, as well as grower profiles, descriptions of ongoing research projects, and resources for interested growers and processors.

National Sunflower Association: Growers – A link to a series of videos done by John Smith of the Univ. of Nebraska about improving plant spacing.   Valuable information about eliminating skips and doubles and about performance of various seed plates and finger pickups.

North Dakota State University: Row Crops and Oilseeds – A link to a series of agronomic information from sunflowers to canola under the direction of Hans Kandel NDSU Extension Agronomist.

Sunflower Planting Guidelines – for different planter models, from the University of Nebraska Research & Extension Center



Developing a versatile harvesting tool (small-scale swather) for oilseed production:
Click here to view YouTube video.

Ryan Elias on rancidity in food-grade oils (2014 Oilseed Producers Workshop):

Ryan Elias on refining food-grade oils by bleaching and degumming (2014 Oilseed Producers Workshop):

Ryan Elias on identifying and quantifying rancidity in food-grade oils (2014 Oilseed Producers Workshop):

Evaluations of six different small-scale presses used for cold-pressing oilseeds (UVM Extension and Penn State Extension SARE Project):

Timelapse photography of a soybean and sunflower field over the course of the 2011 growing season:

Dr. Heather Darby of the University of Vermont Extension describes some of the agronomic aspects of oilseed production in the Northeast, as well as describing our research: httpv://

VPT’s Emerging Science- Episode 2: Ecological Economics
Several scientists from the University of Vermont and University of Vermont Extension, including our own Heather Darby,  discuss Ecological Economics and how it relates to growing biofuels in Vermont.  Funding for the broadcast was provided by EPSCoR (Experimental Program to Stimulate Competitive Research).  This program supports science and engineering at Vermont colleges and businesses to encourage young Vermonters to seek careers in science.




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