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Specialty crops at MAC
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Lesquerella (Lesquerella fendleri) is a potential oilseed crop that grows in the wild in southwestern United States and produces seeds containing hydroxy fatty acids similar to those in castor beans. Lesquerella produced hydroxy fatty acids can be used in lubricants, protective coatings, plastics, surfactants and cosmetics. In addition, the gums extracted from the seed coat may have industrial potential.

Research has indicated that lesquerella has potential as a crop plant for Arizona. It has a water requirement of about 60 cm, which is lower than that of many crops presently being grown in southwestern United States. The first step in the development of lesquerella as a new crop has been the identification and improvement of germplasm. USDA-ARS scientists at the U.S. Water Conservation Laboratory in Phoenix, Arizona have collected germplasm over a period of years and conducted selection and breeding research directed largely toward improving seed and oil yields.

Research has been conducted at the Maricopa Agricultural Center on many aspects of lesquerella production such as water management, dates of planting, seeding rates and plant populations, planting systems, weed control and harvesting.

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Page last revised or reviewed August 2005