Pennycress seeds require a very shallow planting depth in the fall. USDA research demonstrated that traditional grain drills and grass seeders work well. Planting into corn stubble with an air-flow fertilizer spreader and aerial release from an airplane were also successful. Aerial seeding has the added benefit that it can plant into standing corn earlier in the fall. These two broadcast methods also have the advantage are that Pennycress planting can be performed by contractors using these methods very quickly and economically without the farmer disrupting his traditional fall harvest work.
No additional fieldwork is required from the time of planting to harvest because no insecticide or herbicide applications are required for a successful Pennycress crop. As a member of the mustard family and a winter annual, insect pressure is insignificant due to its natural chemistry and the temperatures of the growing season thus limiting an insecticide requirement. By germinating in the fall after the typical summer growing season, competition from other plants as weeds is very limited and spring stands of Pennycress out-compete emerging summer weeds. Thus, Pennycress also acts as a potential and effective weed suppressant. Pennycress completes its lifecycle and is harvested before traditional summer crops begin their production cycle.
Harvest takes place in End of May or latest in early June using traditional combines with grain heads when seed moistures reach 12%. All combines easily thresh the crop separating chaff from the small seeds delivering a clean crop. A major benefit of Pennycress is that the seeds have a high bulk density and transportation to storage and extraction facilities is very efficient using traditional transportation methods.
Soybeans can be planted immediately into Penncyress stubble allowing double cropping in the same year. Research at Western Illinois University has demonstrated that there are no negative impacts on soybeans grown immediately following Pennycress production. Planting of soybean in late May or Early June also does not impact the bean yields adversely. In fact Soybean germination, flowering, biomass and yields all were equal to plants grown in control plots. Another publication by WIU also indicates that planting Soybeans after Pennycress increase bean yields by as much as 3 bushels per acre.
Because Pennycress is planted between corn and soybeans in their traditional rotation sequence with out impacting these crops, income from Pennycress is all additional money to the farming operation.