Submitted to: Annual Meeting and Expo of the American Oil Chemists' Society
Publication Type: Abstract Only
Publication Acceptance Date: 1/11/2008
Publication Date: 5/18/2008
Citation: Cermak, S.C., Isbell, T., Behle, R.W., Evangelista, R.L., Gesch, R.W. 2008. Cuphea as an alternative feedstock [abstract]. Annual Meeting and Expo of the American Oil Chemists' Society. p. 84.
Technical Abstract: Cuphea (Lythraceae) is an annual plant that produces a small oil seed rich in saturated medium-chain triacylglycerols. The initial oil characterization of a number of cuphea species was done in the early 1960's at the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Research Center in Peoria, Illinois. Oil from cuphea seed consists mainly of medium-chain fatty acids that are used in the formation of lubricants, soaps and detergents. During the past eight seasons, cuphea has been grown, throughout the Midwest, by both government labs and a commercial seed producer. Our lab has successfully planted, mechanically harvested, crushed, and refined cuphea oil, and created derivatives for cuphea. Some challenges that cuphea has, as a new crop, are an indeterminate growth and a small seed size. With indeterminate growth, the plant flowers continuously throughout the growing season, which is problematic, because the early maturing seed pods shatter and drop their seed before harvest. We have recently explored different methods of harvest to help eliminate the “green” harvest approaches of the past. Seed yields and herbicide types will be addressed, as well future planting/harvest conditions and locations. As fuel prices increase, the demand for bio-based products will increase in the U.S. With the increase in prices for all bio-based raw materials, cuphea should be able to compete in certain high-end markets. Cuphea will not replace the traditional Midwest crops, such as corn and soybeans, but will be grown in areas that cannot support these traditional crops. Potential future markets and productions will be discussed.