Agri View: Guayule Crop

Dan Agri View, Specialty Crops


Image Courtesy: USDA

Everett Griner talks about growing Guayule making progress in the U.S. in today’s Agri View.

Guayule Crop

I think it is called Guayule. It is a compound that grows on shrubs and bushes. It is used to make rubber. Not a plant that is common to America but that can change. In fact, it is already changing. Most of the people involved say it is a practical thing to do. After all, Americans use more rubber products than any other country. Think about automobile tires. Well Arizona, New Mexico and Southwest Texas is considered prime country for growing Guayule plants. Some are already producing the compound. In fact Guayule has been produced in limited quantity since World War II in that region. But the bulk of that product has always been produced in Southeast Asia. It will take time but it very well could become a new and welcomed crop for southwest farmers. And U.S. tire and rubber manufactures also welcome the move.

That’s Agri View for today. I’m Everett Griner

From: Cornell University, The Gore Lab

Guayule Natural Rubber


Image Courtesy: Cornell University

Natural rubber is essential to a broad range of industries and a significant US import ($3.3 billion in 2010, IRSG), with tires (automotive, agricultural, and aviation) driving much of the demand. All tire manufacturers are dependent on either imported natural rubber from the Brazilian rubber tree [Hevea brasiliensis (Willd. ex A. Juss.) Müll. Arg.] or petroleum-based synthetic polymers as feedstocks. However, neither material is sustainable with respect to future demands. In order to address this issue, we are investigating guayule (Parthenium argentatum A. Gray), a perennial hardwood shrub native to the North American Chihuahuan desert, as a sustainable, US domestic alternative source of natural rubber.

Guayule produces significant quantities of natural rubber with moderate agronomic inputs. It has been studied as a source of domestic rubber by the public and private sectors, especially during times of short supply or high prices, and intermittently cultivated for over 70 years. However, it is currently still an emerging crop, and the development of guayule as a viable commercial source of natural rubber requires better yielding, agronomically robust varieties. In partnership with researchers at the USDA-ARS Arid Land Agricultural Research Center in Maricopa, Arizona, USDA-ARS Western Regional Research Center in Albany, California, and Cooper Rubber & Tire Company, our lab is developing genotyping tools for guayule and investigating the genetic diversity of current guayule breeding germplasm.

Read more on this study from Cornell University.