Linola for cool climates

Linola is an emerging premium oilseed crop, with, say supporters, proven market potential. Growers are supporting the program's interstate field testing network.

Commercialisation is well underway in an international joint venture between CSIRO and United Grain Growers of Canada.

CSIRO Linola project leader Allan Green said major international oil producers have started using Linola in their food products, including cooking oils and margarines. Australian Linola production is currently around 5,000 tonnes.

Roger Fountain, Managing Director of Seedex, said Linola is 'going gangbusters' in Canada, where it ties in nicely to a well-established flaxseed/ linseed market. Seedex is the only marketer of Linola in Australia, "Linola has to start again in Australia but it has a place in the rotation," said Mr Fountain. Linola is suitable for wetter, cooler areas, it can grow in low nitrogen conditions unsuitable for Canola and can be grown at the same time as a grower is spraying out a broad-leaf weed problem.

New variety

A new variety, Argyle, was released early this year. Researchers report it has superior lodging resistance and has consistently outperformed earlier varieties in southern field trials. In high-yield conditions, Argyle outyielded Eyre and Wallaga by 35 per cent. Argyle is a response to growers' concerns about Linola's yield in comparison with Canola, and will be suitable for more growing seasons than the current varieties.

Rotation for wetter paddocks

The Walter family of Victoria has grown Linola for three years. In 1992-93 it outperformed wheat in gross margin returns. Neil Walter said they took up Linola to have another break crop for areas that are too wet for Canola. He hopes Argyle will be worth considerably more than the earlier varieties which yielded 1-1.5 t/ha at around $335/t.

The Walters grow Linola on wetter and more clay type soils on their property 'Waverley' near Goroke. They contract to Seedex for the crop.

"It's a relatively easy crop to grow," said Neil Walter. He says it needs shallow sowing in a fine seed bed and growers need to "keep the red-legged earth mite off it". He's had success with spraying Imidan™ directly after sowing. Linola doesn't like weed competition and Mr Walter rotates it directly after wheat. Input costs are higher than for safflower, he said, and superphosphate requirements are much the same as for wheat.

Another Victorian grower, Brian Wilson of 'Briandra', Mingay (in a former linseed growing area south-west of Ballarat) has had difficulties with Linola in the three years he's been growing it, but blames that more on the excessively wet conditions than on the crop itself.

"It's our most reliable spring-sown crop," he said, comparing it with spring barley and sunflower. And it's the Wilsons' only option for a break crop. The low yield is compensated for by the price per tonne. "We'll persevere with it," he said.

Dr Green said the fact that this 'new crop' is derived from the ancient crop of flax (linseed) means that longunderstood agronomy and cultivation methods are available to growers. He said Linola is also completely compatible with cereal production harvesting and sowing machinery.

Subprogram 2.11.25 Contact: Dr Allan Green 06 246 5154