Submitted to: Journal of Arid Land Studies
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: May 12, 1999
Publication Date: N/A
Interpretive Summary: Water must be used efficiently in arid climates. Thus, understanding water requirements of crops grown in the desert environment is crucial. Water management studies by scientists at the U.S. Water Conservation Laboratory and their cooperators have shown that guayule (rubber and resin), lesquerella (oilseed), and hesperaloe (paper) can be cultivated under semiarid conditions. Timing of water application in lesquerella is especially important during its flower and seed forming stages. Guayule and hesperaloe are tolerant to drought, so irrigation scheduling can be more flexible. The water used by these crops is about 650 mm per year. However, higher water application rates for guayule can greatly increase biomass production. All these plants are native to semiarid the region, but studies show that proper water management practices can help maximize yields.
Technical Abstract: In arid climates, water must be used efficiently. Thus, understanding water requirements of crops grown in the desert environment is crucial. Three crops with potential commercial application, namely guayule (Parthenium argentatum, latex rubber and resin), lesquerella (Lesquerella fendleri, oilseed), and hesperaloe (Hesperaloe funifera, fiber) are under investigation in Arizona and elsewhere. While these plants are native to semiarid climate, proper water management is required for obtaining profitable commercial production. Water-use for these crops is on the order of 650mm per year. Lesquerella requires judicious application of water during the flower and seed forming stages. Guayule and hesperaloe are tolerant to drought, so irrigation scheduling can be more flexible. However, with higher water applications, their biomass yield can be increased.