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Growing markets bring potential for rubber and oilseed crops
Date:2/1/2008

CANYON Changing and growing markets have renewed interest and research on guayule and lesquerella, two native Big Bend plants that might be grown in other parts of Texas, a Texas AgriLife Research scientist said.

Dr. Mike Foster, a research scientist with the Texas AgriLife Research and Extension Center at Lubbock, said he is looking at the possibility of developing the two plants into alternative crops in the Trans-Pecos and High Plains. Foster, who is located at the Texas AgriLife Research Station in Pecos, spoke at the recent High Plains Vegetable Conference in Canyon.

The reason guayule is back on the forefront now is medical products, Foster said. Many people are allergic to natural rubber products, but guayule rubber does not seem to cause the allergic reactions.

There are about 300 medical devices that require natural rubber, he said. Many occupations require people to wear gloves and the guayule natural rubber does not produce the allergic reactions because of fewer proteins. Thats where we are headed with this.

Guayule is a native shrub in the Big Bend area and produces natural rubber, Foster said. This plant was harvested in the early 1900s in Mexico and Texas and received attention in the U.S. during World War II.

The Emergency Rubber Project was created in 1942-1944, and that is when the first studies were performed on the reaction and limitation of guayule to low-temperature environments in Texas and New Mexico.

The experiments looked at 23 locations in the two states, Foster said. Little injury was seen on dormant shrubs at temperatures as low as 0 degrees, he said. Even in Dalhart, the plants had a 31 percent survival at minus 10 degrees.

Following the war, interest decreased and the U.S. became primarily an importer of rubber that is derived from rubber trees, Foster said. The rubber from guayule is structurally the same. In the late 1970s, interest in domestic rubber production wa
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Contact: Dr. Mike Foster
mfoster@ag.tamu.edu
432-445-5050
Texas A&M University - Agricultural Communications
Source:Eurekalert

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