Biofuels Seed Box

This is a short, descriptive article describing some of the crops that have been tested at Penn State.
Biofuels Seed Box - Articles


Canola Seed

Canola is a significant source of vegetable oil, and it can be used as a feedstock for producing biodiesel fuel. Canola meal (the portion left over after pressing the oil) is valuable as an animal feed. Both spring and winter varieties exist, and the crop is growing in popularity in the Keystone State. The crop grows well in cooler climates, and can be successfully worked into crop rotation schedules. Canola is related to mustard and broccoli, and displays beautiful yellow flowers in the field.


Camelina is an annual oilseed crop native to northern Europe. It is drought- and cold-tolerant, and is sometimes referred to as "Siberian Oilseed". While it is not as common as some other oilseeds, Camelina oil is very high in Omega 3 Fatty Acids, known to be valuable for heart health.

Camelina meal (the portion left over after pressing the oil) can be fed to chickens, resulting in eggs that are high in Omega 3 Fatty Acids. Penn State is working with farmers in Pennsylvania to assess the potential for growing this crop to meet needs for for feed and fuel.


Flax has long been grown both for its oil (linseed oil), and for its strong fibers (linen is made from flax). In addition, oil from flax is reported to be extremely healthy. Ornamental varieties are often grown in gardens for their beautiful blue flowers. With rising oil prices, increased concerns for health, and renewed interest in bioenergy, flax has potential to be a worthwhile crop in coming years. Penn State is working to evaluate the potential of this crop as part of the state's rich variety of energy and food crops.


Safflower is one of the oldest crops cultivated, having been grown since ancient times in the Middle East. While it is not currently common in Pennsylvania, safflower has potential as an emerging energy crop.

The plant resembles a yellow-flowered thistle, and is extremely spiny. However, harvest is relatively straightforward and the seeds have a high oil yield. Penn State is currently evaluating the potential of Safflower and other energy crops for meeting our state's expanding food and energy needs.