Submitted to: National Symposium on New Crops
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: March 12, 1996
Publication Date: N/A
Interpretive Summary: Lesquerella and Vernonia, two oilseed crops with excellent potential for commercialization, are presently being developed in the arid Southwest. Hydroxy acids used for cosmetics, industrial, and defense applications are derived from castor oil, which is imported to the U.S. Lesquerella, which grows native in the southwestern U.S., contains the same type of oil as castor. Epoxy acids are used in varnishes, baked on coatings, adhesives, and could be added to paints and coatings as drying agents that reduce harmful vapors emitted. Modified soybean and linseed oils are now used for some of these applications by industry. Vernonia, a plant that produces a naturally occurring epoxy acid (without modification), has superior characteristics. Breeding and agronomic achievements made at USDA, ARS, Phoenix, have improved the prospect for commercialization of both crops. This should result in diversification from traditional crops grown in the U.S. and greater profits for farmers.
Technical Abstract: Lesquerella and Vernonia, two oilseed crops with excellent potential for commercialization, are presently being developed in the arid Southwest. Lesquerella fendleri is a source of hydroxy fatty acids for use in lubricants, plastics, protective coatings, surfactants, and cosmetics. In addition to the seed-oil, the seed-coat gums and seed-meal would also add considerable value. Lesquerella has progressed from small plot research to successful cultivation on larger farm acreage. Vernonia galamensis is a source of epoxy fatty acids for use in formulations of protective coatings and paints with low volatile organic compounds (VOC). This is an important consideration in order for industry to comply with environmental laws that limit VOC emissions. Other uses for vernonia include thermoset resins and coatings, polymer blends, dibasic acids, adhesives, and epoxy composite materials. Breeding and cultural management improvements have been made on these crops and both are suited for production in arid climates. The successful adoption of these new oilseeds can provide high economic return to growers, processors, and industrial users compared to the expenditure for the necessary agricultural research.