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ARS Home » Midwest Area » Morris, Minnesota » Soil Management Research » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #289607

Title: Cuphea production and management

item BERTI, MARISOL - North Dakota State University
item Gesch, Russell - Russ

Submitted to: Book Chapter
Publication Type: Book / Chapter
Publication Acceptance Date: 1/1/2015
Publication Date: 11/10/2015
Citation: Berti, M., Gesch, R.W. 2015. Cuphea production and management. In: Cruz, V.M.V., Dierig, D.A., editors. Industrial Crops, Handbook of Plant Breeding 9. New York, NY: Springer Science+Business Media. p. 291-313.

Interpretive Summary: Cuphea is a new oilseed crop being developed for production in the northern United States. The oil contained in cuphea seeds is rich in medium-chain fatty acids, which are important feedstock for manufacturing many industrial products such as soaps and detergents, lubricants, foaming agents, and personal care products including cosmetics. Except for cuphea, almost all plant-derived medium-chain fatty acid oil used for chemical manufacturing in the US comes from imported tropical plant oils. Domestication of cuphea from its wild relatives has gone on for a number of years, dating back to the early 1980s. Since the 1990s, varieties of cuphea have been developed that show good potential to be cultivated using mainly conventional farming practices for seed oil production. Most of the work that has been done to develop best management practices to agronomically grow cuphea has been done by the USDA-ARS and university collaborators over about the past decade. This invited book chapter is written as a review of the most up-to-date information on what is known about the agricultural management for production of commercial varieties of cuphea. The information is useful to other plant researchers and teachers studying cuphea as well as agriculture professionals (e.g., university extension specialists, ag consultants, and the specialty seed industry) interested or involved in managing cuphea production.

Technical Abstract: The genus Cuphea (Lythraceae) is quite unique in that most of its 265 different species synthesize and store primarily medium-chain fatty acids (MCFA) in their seeds, and many flourish in temperate climates. Presently, the U.S. and other developed countries import millions of tons of tropical plant-related oils to provide MCFA for industrial chemical manufacturing. Cuphea can serve as an additional source for these fatty acids. Since about the early 1980s, a concerted effort has been made to domesticate cuphea as a commercial, temperate climate crop source of MCFA for the manufacturing a myriad of industrial chemicals. The biggest breakthrough came in the 1990s when more agronomically-friendly genotypes were developed through the inter-specific hybridization of C. viscosissima and C. lanceolata. Since that time significant strides have been made in developing best agricultural management practices for the commercial production of cuphea. Currently, small-scale seed production has taken place in the northern Corn Belt region of the U.S. for high-end value products such as those manufactured by the cosmetic industry. This review primarily focuses on advancements that have been made over the past decade in developing agricultural management for cuphea production.