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

s revived because of the oil embargo, he said. Thats when researchers started trying to increase the biomass of these plants. And now Foster is again looking at the plant with plots at the Texas AgriLife Research Station at Halfway, near Plainview. The Trans Pecos and Plainview areas have similar elevations and temperatures, but the Plainview area receives almost two times as much rain. The freeze dates are similar.

The plants were transplanted in May 25, 2006, and received a total of 23 inches of water (rain and irrigation) during the growing season. Foster said he has already determined the high biomass lines that have been recently developed will not work in the colder regions because they lost their cold tolerance during the breeding process.

He has determined winter survival requires a dry period in the fall followed by a gradual temperature decline. Problems can arise if plant growth is induced by a winter warm period that is followed by frost. However, two breeding lines are showing potential.

The shrubs are harvested at two years of age when the whole plant can be dug up or it can be clipped and left to regrow, Foster said. It will need to be grown under irrigation, but the water requirements for the High Plains have not been determined.

One of the advantages here (in the High Plains) is you get some rainfall, so it can reduce the water inputs, he said. The Trans Pecos, where it is native, has trouble with salinity in the water, so were just trying to see how adaptive it is in this region.

If this really happens, I think the High Plains would be in position to cash in on the market, Foster said. One of the last reports I saw, natural rubber varied from $1.30 to $1.60 a pound. With the medical application, the demand is growing.

Foster said the co-products may be as valuable as the rubber. To process guayule for rubber, the plant has to be ground up and the rubber comes from the bark. The resin can be used
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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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