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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service


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Title: Lesquerella: a winter oilseed crop for the southwest

item Wang, Sam
item Mccloskey, Bill
item Foster, Mike
item Dierig, David

Submitted to: Extension Publications
Publication Type: Other
Publication Acceptance Date: 7/1/2010
Publication Date: 7/1/2010
Citation: Wang, S.G., McCloskey, B., Foster, M., Dierig, D.A. 2010. Lesquerella: a winter oilseed crop for the southwest. Extension Publications. July 2010, AZ1520.

Interpretive Summary: Growers need guidelines with defined best management practices to successfully grow a crop. These guidelines are even more critical when a grower undertakes a new crop into the production system. A grower’s guide was written with pertinent crop background, a description of planting and harvest methods, and crop management practices. These guidelines will benefit seed companies interested in recruiting new growers, researchers and extension agents, and local growers.

Technical Abstract: Lesquerella (Lesquerella fendleri) is a member of the mustard family and is native to the southwest United States and Northern Mexico. Lesquerella seeds contain a unique vegetable oil that can be used as an additive to diesel fuels to reduce engine damage and wear, or as a feedstock for a number of other bioproducts such as lubricants, motor oils, plastics, inks and adhesives. The hydroxylated oil in lesquerella is similar to castor oil but does not contain the deadly poison ricin. Therefore, lesquerella is a safer alternative to castor in the United States and can be handled both at the farm level and the oilseed processing level with industry standard equipment and technology. Lesquerella oil at concentrations as low as 0.25% has superior performance compared to castor, soybean, and rapeseed methyl esters in reducing wear and damage in fuel injected diesel engines (Goodrum and Geller, 2005). The seed coat and seed meal contains a gum that will be useful in coatings and food thickeners. The recommended planting dates are October in Arizona and late September in Texas and New Mexico. The planting rate is between 7 and 11 lbs/Acre, the equivalent of 5.6 to 8.8 million seeds/A. Lesquerella has indeterminate growth and continues to flower as long as water is supplied and temperatures are warm. However, when canopy flowering declines in May and June as temperatures increase and seed mature, lesquerella senescence should be induced by withholding irrigation. When plants begin to transition from a dull, gray-green color to brown, a desiccant (e.g. paraquat) is applied to complete the process at a faster rate. This allows the crop to be harvested using a conventional combine about 3 to 4 weeks after the last irrigation, usually in June. Current lesquerella seed yields are approximately 150lbs/A, but the crop has the potential of yielding 2000 to 2500 lbs/A through a combinations of improved agronomic practices and plant breeding. Seed oil reaches maturity at 27 to 30 days after flowering, but harvesting too early resulting in lower oil content.

Last Modified: 10/17/2017
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