New Safflower Lines Survive Winters
By Jan Suszkiw
March 25, 2008
Three new safflower germplasm lines
developed by Agricultural Research Service (ARS) scientists in Pullman, Wash., are now
available for improving the oilseed crop's winter survival, or
The germplasm linesdubbed WSRC01, WSRC02 and WSRC03owe their
superior winter hardiness to three Chinese safflower accessions maintained at
Plant Germplasm Introduction and Testing Research Unit in Pullman.
According to ARS agronomist
C. Johnson, winter-hardy safflower varieties derived from the three new
germplasm lines should offer farmers a number of benefits. Among these are the
option of fall plantings, winter ground cover, rotation with other crops like
wheat, better weed control, improved water-use efficiency, and higher seed
yields than spring-planted safflower crops.
Safflower is primarily grown for three products: oil, meal and birdseed. The
oil is mainly used for cooking and in salad dressings and margarine. Safflower
oil also is used in paint bases and can be converted into biodiesel.
High-fiber, high-protein meal from crushed seeds is fed to livestock, while
intact safflower seeds are marketed as birdseed. Dyes are made from the crop's
Winter hardiness, which has been lacking in existing varieties, could expand
safflower use in the West and the Southern Great Plains, notes Johnson. WSRC01,
02 and 03 are adapted to many sites in these regions and mark the first U.S.
safflower releases specifically for that trait.
During field trials in eastern Washington State, the three lines showed
winter hardiness superior to cold-tolerant safflowers that were used as
experimental controls for comparison. The new safflower lines grew to a height
of nearly 3 feet, stood upright and produced red flowers. On average, the
lines' seed contained 80 percent linoleic acid and 14 percent oleic fatty acid.
Johnson, who is handling seed requests, co-developed the safflower germplasm
lines with fellow ARS agronomist
Bradley. Professor Li Dajue at the Beijing Botanical Gardens in China also
ARS is the U.S. Department of
Agriculture's chief scientific research agency.