Submitted to: Meeting Proceedings
Publication Type: Proceedings
Publication Acceptance Date: July 30, 2009
Publication Date: December 31, 2009
Citation: Isbell, T. 2009. U.S. Effort in the Development of New Crops (Lesquerella, Pennycress, Coriander, and Cuphea). Proceedings of the Journées Chevreul. 16(4):205-210. Interpretive Summary: Any effort in the development of a new crop must consider the consequence on the existing commodity crop that it will displace. As such, efforts from our group are directed toward crops that can grow off-season with a commodity crop or on land not currently growing a commodity crop. Secondly, the crop must produce compounds that are unique or not readily available from domestic sources. Lastly, the compounds may also serve as replacement for petroleum derived products. Utilizing these guidelines, our group has been conducting research on mainly four potential crops: coriander, cuphea, Lesquerella, and pennycress. These four crops provide unique chemicals not readily available and have the potential to be produced with little to no impact on food producing commodity agriculture. This manuscript outlines the current advances in these crops and the challenges facing their development.
Technical Abstract: The U.S. effort for the development of New Crops is directed toward the advancement of crops that can be grown in rotation with traditional commodity crops, off-season production and utilization of acreage not currently under cultivation. This effort is intended to have no or minimal impact on crop rotations that are sources for food production. The high oil content and the fatty acid profiles of mustard crops make them suitable for utilization as both fuels and base stocks for functionalized industrial chemicals. Pennycress (thlaspi arvense) and lesquerella (lesquerella fendleri) are representatives of this family and have received much attention due to their potential to grow over winter in rotation with soybean production throughout the Midwest (pennycress) or as a winter annual in the desert southwest (lesquerella). Pennycress is an oilseed crop that produces 36% oil with a wide distribution of fatty acids (principal fatty acid is erucic acid 37%) that make it suitable for production of biodiesel. The key aspect of pennycress is that its lifecycle is complete such that a full season soybean can follow its production in the same growing season. Lesquerella is an oilseed crop containing 30% oil that is composed of 60% hydroxy fatty acids. Hydroxy fatty acids are used in a wide range of industrial and cosmetic applications. Two other New Crops currently under investigation are cuphea and coriander. Cuphea is an oilseed crop that contains 35% oil that is composed of medium chain saturated fatty acids. The current cuphea variety under investigation is high in capric fatty acid (76%) with other cuphea species producing high levels of lauric acid. Cuphea can be grown throughout the Midwest, but suffers from several agronomic traits that are currently limiting its potential adaptation. Coriander is also an oilseed crop with 25% oil where the main fatty acid is petroselinic acid (76%). Coriander can be grown under a short season production and has potential to rotate as a second crop following winter wheat. Petroselinic acid can be ozonolytically cleaved into adipic and lauric acids, both high volume industrial chemicals.