Submitted to: European Symposium on Industrial Crops and Products
Publication Type: Abstract Only
Publication Acceptance Date: 3/5/2002
Publication Date: N/A
Technical Abstract: Commercialization of the guayule plant (Parthenium argentatum) for making hypoallergenic latex medical and personal hygiene products seems promising. However, less than 10% of the plant biomass will be utilized for latex production. The remaining 90% plant residue or bagasse, which contains the resionous material, can be used to make composite boards resistant to termites and wood-rot fungi. In the fabrication process, recycled plastics can be used as the binder. Also, the bagasse when properly treated can be used as a soil amendment. The crude resinous extract from the whole plant or bagasse can be used without purification. Such resin when impregnated into wood provides it protection against wood destroying organisms including marine borers. In addition, the resin can be combined with epoxy polymers to produce coatings that are readily strippable, a useful property for storage protection of aircrafts, ships, and other industrial equipment. At present, the most promising area for coproduct development is the use of the resinous material to control harmful arthropod pests and microorganism, although only a few insects and fungi have been tested to date. In attempting to increase the rubber content and biomass of the plant, the ratio of resin to rubber has been changing from 1:1 to 2:1 and higher. Although unintentional, this crop improvement may be fortuitous because the resin fraction appears to be just as valuable as the latex component. The guayule breeding program must now look at two parameters instead of one for the dual economical commercial production of latex and resin.