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Cargill and University of Minnesota Partner on Winter Camelina and Pennycress Research

MINNEAPOLIS–(BUSINESS WIRE)–Cargill and the Forever Green Initiative, a research platform in the College of Food, Agricultural and Natural Resource Sciences at the University of Minnesota, are partnering to study winter camelina and domesticated pennycress. The collaboration will focus on the development of high performing seed varieties and farming techniques adapted for the unique growing conditions of the Upper Midwest.

Cargill will bring expertise in crop improvement—including trait discovery, high throughput genotyping, genomic selection, trait development and cellular biology—to rapidly advance the diverse genetics from the University of Minnesota. The application of these technologies will accelerate the development and commercial release of improved varieties of camelina and pennycress.

The project builds on a previously announced $2.5 million philanthropic grant awarded to the University from Cargill to accelerate research into crop biology and management.

“This support from Cargill will take our breeding and genomics work to the next level and help us develop even better varieties of camelina and pennycress for farmers in Minnesota and beyond,” said Mitch Hunter, associate director of the Forever Green Initiative. “We are incredibly grateful to Cargill for this very generous research partnership.”

Planted in the fall and harvested in the spring, winter camelina and domesticated pennycress are typically grown as intermediate oilseed crops that provide soil cover and have the potential to address key sustainability challenges in agricultural supply chains including water quality, soil health and ecosystem improvements. The crops can be used in a rotation with corn and soy or after small seed crops like wheat.

Given the high oil content of these crops, there is an emerging revenue opportunity to grow winter camelina and pennycress as cash crops, driven by rising demand for low-carbon intensity feedstocks. The seed oil can be refined into drop-in replacements for low-carbon transportation fuels such as sustainable aviation fuel and renewable diesel.

“Innovations in agriculture are critical to help feed and fuel the world sustainably while also addressing climate change,” said Lyle DePauw, crop innovation director for Cargill. “Cargill has a long history of partnering with the University of Minnesota and working alongside farmers to advance new market opportunities. Winter camelina and pennycress have incredible potential to aid in the decarbonization of the global transportation system and support a more sustainable food system.”

Active pilots of camelina in process

Cargill is actively working with a small number of farmers in Minnesota and North Dakota to learn more about suitable growing conditions for camelina, with the first harvest wrapping up this month. There will be additional opportunities for farmers to explore winter camelina as an option for their operations starting August 1, as Cargill expands its pilot.

Minnesota farmers who participate in Cargill’s pilot program may be eligible for support through a Forever Green program called Environmental and Economic Clusters of Opportunity (EECO), which is funded by the Clean Water Council with support from the Minnesota Department of Agriculture. The EECO Program provides agronomic support, environmental benefit payments, and risk management payments to farmers who grow winter camelina. Interested farmers can learn more and enroll at

About Cargill

Cargill is committed to providing food, ingredients, agricultural solutions, and industrial products to nourish the world in a safe, responsible, and sustainable way. Sitting at the heart of the supply chain, we partner with farmers and customers to source, make and deliver products that are vital for living.

Our 160,000 team members innovate with purpose, providing customers with life’s essentials so businesses can grow, communities prosper, and consumers live well. With 159 years of experience as a family company, we look ahead while remaining true to our values. We put people first. We reach higher. We do the right thing—today and for generations to come. For more information, visit and our News Center.

About The Forever Green Initiative

The Forever Green Initiative is developing and improving winter-hardy annual and perennial crops that protect soil and water while driving new economic opportunities for growers, industry, and communities across Minnesota.

By combining these novel crops with traditional annual crops, farmers can keep the soil covered all year round. This approach to farming with “continuous living cover” can greatly enhance the efficiency and sustainability of Minnesota agriculture.

In addition to the Clean Water Council, the Minnesota Department of Agriculture, and Cargill, major supporters of Forever Green’s work on camelina and pennycress include the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the U.S. Department of Energy, The Walton Family Foundation, Builders Initiative, the MBOLD Coalition, and the Legislative-Citizens Commission on Minnesota Resources.

Additional Resources

The “Putting Down Roots” report analyzes the environmental and economic benefits of oilseeds and other Forever Green crops in Minnesota.

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