Submitted to: Proceedings Exposicion Internacional de Agroproductos No Tradicionales
Publication Type: Proceedings
Publication Acceptance Date: December 13, 1999
Publication Date: N/A
Interpretive Summary: Farmers in Mexico are in dire need of new alternative crops to grow on small sized farms and sell in local markets. New crops are needed to grow in rotation with traditional crops such as cotton, sorghum, and grains. They are also needed to replace traditional crops when market values are depressed. Two new alternative industrial crops that have potential for Mexico are lesquerella and guayule. Lesquerella has a valuable seed oil similar to castor, used as a high quality lubricant in coatings, plastics, paints, lipstick, shampoo, and other products. Guayule is a source of natural rubber and latex. Guayule latex is different from latex imported from Asia because it lacks the proteins causing severe allergy reactions in more than 17 million people in the U.S. alone. Higher yielding, more vigorous plants are currently being developed, along with utilization of co-products, at the U.S. Water Conservation Laboratory in Phoenix, Arizona, and other ARS laboratories that could help producers in Mexico and the U.S. by providing crops with high economic value. These native new crops would also promote biodiversity and help to break the cycle of pests when used in rotation with other traditional crops.
Technical Abstract: New crops are vital to agriculture for a number of important reasons. Alternatives to crops such as winter and spring wheat are needed by farmers for rotations to break the cycle of pests. Since many new crops have not yet been grown in monoculture, they may not have disease and insect problems. New crops provide diversity for agricultural production. They also provide valuable new products to the marketplace and can establish new niche markets. The new crops for this discussion are lesquerella (Lesquerella fendleri), a hydroxy fatty acid oilseed crop of the Brassicaceae family, and guayule (Parthenium argentatum), a rubber and latex perennial crop in the Compositae family. Both are native to Mexico and are being developed as potential new industrial crops. Guayule has research and development programs in both Mexico and the United States. Lesquerella is being developed in the United States but also has been grown in Mexico in Coahuila and Sonora and has been produced in Argentina.