WHAT ARE OILSEED CROPS?
Oilseed Crops are grown primarily for the oil contained in the seeds. The oil content of small grains (eg, wheat) is only 1-2%; that of oilseeds ranges from about 20% for SOYBEANS to over 40% for SUNFLOWERS and rapeseed (CANOLA). The major world sources of edible seed oils are soybeans, sunflowers, rapeseed, cotton and peanuts. Seed oils from FLAX (linseed) and castor beans are used for industrial purposes. Edible fats and oils are similar in molecular structure; however, fats are solid at room temperature, while oils are liquid.
Fats and oils are essential nutrients, comprising about 40% of the calories in the diet of the average person. Edible vegetable oils are used as salad or cooking oils, or may be solidified (by a process called hydrogenation) to make margarine and shortening. These products supplement or replace animal products (eg, butter, lard), supplies of which are inadequate to meet the needs of an increasing world population.
While there are many uses for industrial vegetable oils, total world production is only about 3% of that of edible oils. Industrial applications are based on the properties of particular fatty-acid components of these oils. For example, flaxseed oil, rich in the unsaturated fatty acid linolenic, is a drying oil and is used in protective coatings (eg, paints, varnishes). Vegetable oils are used in putty, printing inks, erasers, coating or core oils, greases, plastics, etc. The residue remaining after the oil has been extracted from oilseeds is an important source of nutrients for farm animals. Oilseed meals from soybeans, peanuts, rapeseed and flaxseed are rich in protein; mixed with other ingredients (eg, cereal grains), they provide nutritionally balanced feeds.
The major oilseeds grown in Canada are soybeans, sunflowers, canola and flax.
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VARIETIES OF OILSEED CROPS