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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Title: Progress in the Development of Cuphea As a Crop for Midwest Growers

item Isbell, Terry
item Behle, Robert

Submitted to: Inform
Publication Type: Trade Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: September 21, 2003
Publication Date: November 3, 2004
Citation: Isbell, T., Behle, R.W. 2004. Progress in the development of cuphea as a crop for midwest growers. Inform. 14(8)513-515.

Technical Abstract: Cuphea (Lythraceae) is a new crop being developed for rotation in the Midwest region of the United States. Cuphea species are rich in medium-chain triglycerides where individual fatty acids levels of 65% to 94% are present within the homologous saturate series from caprylic to myristic. Breeding and agronomic advances have reached the point where developed varieties were mechanically grown and harvested on large research plots in 2001. However, continued breeding effort is needed to overcome seed shattering before full scale commercial farm production is possible. Additional agronomic studies on cuphea as a potential rotation crop with corn and soybeans indicate that cuphea may break the corn rootworm (Diabrotica spp) cycle thereby reducing insecticide applications to corn. Cuphea has a number of potential commercial uses where the main application is the supply of lauric acid for detergents. In addition, the oil has been used in the development of a model diesel fuel and lubricant where superior physical properties compared to petroleum products were observed. In the case of lubricants, estolides were synthesized using Cuphea fatty acids and oleic acid to give a material with a pour point of -42 deg C and a rotating bomb oxygen test (RBOT) time of 420 minutes.

Last Modified: 4/22/2015
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