Submitted to: National Symposium on New Crops and New Uses
Publication Type: Proceedings
Publication Acceptance Date: 12/20/2001
Publication Date: 10/1/2002
Citation: SHARRATT, B.S., GESCH, R.W. ROOTING CHARACTERISTICS AND WATER REQUIREMENTS OF CUPHEA. JANICK, J., WHIPKEY, A., EDITORS. ASHS PRESS, ALEXANDRIA, VA. TRENDS IN NEW CROPS AND NEW USES. PROCEEDINGS OF THE FIFTH NATIONAL SYMPOSIUM. 2002. P. 216-218. Interpretive Summary: Cuphea is a potential new crop that is rich in medium chain fatty acids; these acids are used to manufacture soaps and detergents and are only currently available through import of palm kernel oils from Indonesia and the Philippines. Attempts are being made to domesticate Cuphea, but we were uncertain whether Cuphea could be grown with success outside its native region of the southern US and South America. Therefore, Cuphea was planted on three dates at three populations to determine management criteria for growing this crop in the northern Corn Belt. Cuphea was most productive when planted early in the spring and at populations similar to that used in soybean. The growing environment in the northern Corn Belt is suitable for production of Cuphea, but we need to identify those factors that will bolster yields and thereby make this an economically viable crop for farmers and for industries such as Proctor & Gamble who manufacture soaps and detergents.
Technical Abstract: Cuphea could be an important oilseed crop for the manufacture of soaps and detergents in the United States, but little is known concerning its growth and production in the North Central region. We evaluated the production and water use of Cuphea when sown on three dates (during May 2000) at three plant populations (from 80000 to 320000 plants ha**-1) near Morris, MN. Seed yield was measured in late August to early September (harvest) and water use assessed from sowing to harvest. Seed yield decreased with a delay in sowing in the spring or with a decline in plant population. Yield ranged from about 500 kg ha**-1 for the early sowing date or highest plant population to about 350 kg ha**-1 for the latest sowing date or lowest plant population. Water use varied as a result of sowing date with water use varying from 330 mm for early sowing to 215 mm for late sowing. Rooting was less proliferous as sowing date was delayed and was confined to the upper 400 mm of the soil profile. This study suggests that Cuphea production is favored by early sowing and that water stress may limit production due to its shallow rooting characteristic.