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ARS Home » Pacific West Area » Maricopa, Arizona » U.S. Arid Land Agricultural Research Center » Plant Physiology and Genetics Research » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #175462

Title: Temperature and elevation effects on plant growth, development, and seed production of two Lesaquerella species


Submitted to: Industrial Crops and Products
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 10/25/2005
Publication Date: 7/15/2006
Citation: Dierig, D.A., Adam, N.R., Mackey, B.E., Dahlquist, G.H., Coffelt, T.A. 2006. Temperature and elevation effects on plant growth, development, and seed production of two Lesaquerella species. Industrial Crops and Products. 24:17-25.

Interpretive Summary: In the commercialization of a new crop, the areas of highest production must be defined. These areas usually are not the same as native locales. The objective of this experiment was to define the limits imposed by the environment, namely elevation (or temperature) on production of this potential new industrial oilseed crop, lesquerella. Another related species of this crop that originates from Eastern Texas was also included because hybrids are being made between the two species to improve the oil quality. We compared the growth stages and measured the size of plants produced during the growing season and at final yield at four elevations of an increasing gradient. We found that lesquerella grew best at elevations of up to 700 m, whereas, the other species was better suited at the 1284 m elevation, although there was not a linear response as with lesquerella. This information helps predict the cropping areas best-suited for oilseed production in the Southwest and indicates that the hybrids may further extend this range. Seed companies and growers attempting to establish lesquerella as a new crop will benefit from this research, as ultimately will consumers of the many products likely to be produced from the future expanded production.

Technical Abstract: A potential new alternative oilseed crop from the genus Lesquerella is being domesticated for the southwestern United States and other arid climates of the world. This crop has seed oil rich in hydroxy fatty acids used to produce a variety of industrial, cosmetic, and pharmaceutical products. Many of the industrial products are replacements for non-degradable petroleum-based products such as hydraulic fluids, surfactants, 2-cycle engine oils, automotive oils, protective coatings, drying agents, and plastics. L. fendleri is the main species being developed, although other species such as L. pallida, are being utilized for introgression of useful traits into L. fendleri. The objective here was to determine the areas suitable for crop production. The two species were planted at sites in Arizona that ranged in elevation from 300 to 1200 m, and -13.2 to 38.8 C in temperature over the growing season. The four sites included Phoenix (33.39 N, 112.03 W, elevation 300 m), Tucson (32.25 N, 110.95 W, elevation 700 m), Safford (32.83 N, 109.70 W, elevation 884 m), and Patagonia (31.54 N, 110.75 W, elevation 1219 m). Plants of L. fendleri developed flowers and fruits by the week of 22 March at Phoenix and Tucson; but not until one month later at the two higher elevation sites. Plant height, width, and biomass measured during the season indicated that plants at the two lower elevations grew nearly twice as tall and wide, and over five times heavier than the plants at the higher elevations. Seed yields followed the same trend. However, oil contents were very similar over the four elevation sites. Plants of L. pallida were almost all flowering and fruiting by 08 April at Tucson, two weeks later at Phoenix, and not until 02 May at the two higher elevations. Plants were tallest and widest throughout the season at Tucson until final harvest. Plants at Patagonia at final harvest were as tall and wide, had greater biomass, and seed yields than Tucson and Phoenix. These results indicate that L. fendleri is suitable for production in areas below 700 m. Plants of L. pallida were more productive at the highest elevation of 1219 m. It was not entirely clear as to how plants of either species would have performed at the 884 m elevation site considering the early complication with high plant mortality. These results indicated that production areas for L. fendleri may be expanded with the introgression of L. pallida genes.