Submitted to: Agronomy Abstracts
Publication Type: Abstract Only
Publication Acceptance Date: November 9, 2000
Publication Date: N/A
Technical Abstract: New crops that produce economically viable quantities of medium chain- length fatty acids have potential to replace palm oils as the major ingredient in the manufacture of detergents. No cold-hardy/short-season crops are available to meet the demand for these oils. Plants in the genus Cuphea (Lythraceae) may be potential candidates. Seeds from a cross between nC. viscossima and C. lanceolata, developed at Oregon State University, wer used to examine responses of seed germination to temperature and water potential, seedling emergence to sowing depth, and flowering response to photoperiod. Field studies during 1999 and 2000 tested responses to planting date and row spacing in west central Minnesota. Cuphea seeds responded to simulated soil temperature and soil water potentials like locally-adapted soybean, but only when sown at about 1 cm soil depth. Photoperiod had no pronounced effects on flowering. These results suggested that cuphea could emerge and mature under temperate mid-continental conditions. In the field, early- to mid-May sowing dates resulted in maximum seed yields (1 Mg/ha), with yields declining by as much as 25 to 50% with earlier and later sowing dates, respectively. Seed yields increased with row-spacing, with maximum yields at 38 to 50 cm. Number of pods per plant and percent filled pods increased in wider row-spacings. Cuphea sown in May can be harvested in August, avoiding interference with soybean harvest in September. Although commercial development of cuphea still is at a very early stage, our results suggest that it can be cultured successfully in cool temperate environments with short growing seasons.