Submitted to: Annual Meeting and Expo of the American Oil Chemists' Society
Publication Type: Abstract Only
Publication Acceptance Date: 5/7/2003
Publication Date: 5/7/2003
Citation: GESCH, R.W., FORCELLA, F., SHARRATT, B.S., OLNESS, A.E., ARCHER, D.W. PROGRESS IN MOVING FROM RESEARCH TO COMMERCIAL PRODUCTION OF CUPHEA IN THE U.S. AMERICAN OIL CHEMISTS SOCIETY. 2003. ABSTRACT P. 32.
Technical Abstract: Several species of Cuphea (Lythraceae) are unique among plants adapted to temperate climates in that they emphasize the synthesis and storage of small and medium-chain triglycerides in their seed. Currently, no crops are grown in the U.S. that meet demands of the chemical manufacturing industry for small and medium-chain oils. During the past decade, success was achieved in developing semi-domesticated lines of cuphea from crossing C. viscosissima with C. lanceolata. However, until recently, little was known about the extent of their agronomic potential, or best management practices for their production. Our work with cuphea focuses on developing management practices for production and identifying agronomic and environmental limitations. In addition to the value of its seed oil, cuphea offers a true alternative crop for rotations which are already suffering from lack of diversity. Results show that present cuphea lines (e.g., PSR23 and PSR57) are best suited for production in the northern Midwest region. Likely, this is linked to soil water holding capacity and water use of plants, and seasonal timing of high temperatures, both of which are crucial in the growth and development of cuphea. Planting with a no-till drill in a minimum-residue seedbed has proven successful, although uniform crop establishment remains elusive. Harvesting is still problematic mainly due to low harvest index and seed shattering. Shattering prior to and during the harvest process may account for seed losses as high as 20 to 40%. Late season broadleaf weed control and nutritional requirements of cuphea require further study. While some obstacles to commercialization of cuphea remain, results appear favorable for agronomic production in the near future.