(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
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.