More than 20 respondents classified themselves as new-croppers, while fewer than 20 did not. Some were perplexed, because, like me, part of their work is New Crops oriented, while a bigger part is not. At the time I circulated the questionnaires, I was with U.S. Department of Agriculture's Narcotics Program, devoting a small portion of my time to Alternative Crops, which in many cases represented new crops to narcotics-producing areas and/or the United States. I have been involved in the Alternative Crops program since 1972, which has enabled me to develop a fine file on hundreds of economic plants. In 1988, CRC Press published a Handbook of Nuts, developed as part of the Alternative Crops program. I have also proposed a CRC Handbook of New Crops, based on the species suggested at this symposium.
Definition of the title subject, New Crops, itself, proved difficult. Many respondents said they could not respond well without knowing just what I meant by a "new crop." Definitions of new crops included:
Other flags raised with the new crops concept were:
The most interesting "mixed bag" was the listing of obstacles (Table 3) to New Crops Development. I categorized the obstacles as best I could, aggregating where possible to enumerate the many obstacles to new crop development.
Summarily, and not surprisingly, funding and marketing were the most frequently cited obstacles. Fully aware of the funding problem, CSRS has served as a catalyst, with seed money to get farmer, merchant, and technology together with the glittering examples of guayule and kenaf, hopefully soon to be followed by crambe.
In 12,000-40,000 years, Amerindians of America (north of Mexico) recognized at least 1,100 food plant species! How many can you name? Most of our food comes from "un-American" (non-U.S.) species.
In the list that follows are some staple non-U.S. food crops, and alongside a North American "New-Crop" analogue, which could possibly become competitive, were it to receive the lobbying, research, subsidy, and support that its non-U.S. analogue has received.
|'Buy' International||'Buy' American|
|Carrot||Wild Parsnip (Pastinaca)|
|Cucumber||Cucumber Root (Medeola)|
|Lentils||Groundnut Seeds (Apios)|
|Lettuce||Wild Lettuce (Lactuca)|
|Rice||Wild Rice (Zizania)|
|Soybean||Hog-peanut seed (Amphicarpaea)|
|Tomato||Husk Tomato (Physalis)|
|Water-chestnut||Jerusalem Artichoke (Helianthus)|
Table 1. New crops experiences of respondents.
Table 2. New crops recommendations.
|United States Crops|
|Bladderpod (Lesquerella)||Leucaena (Leucaena)|
|Blueberry (Vaccinium)||Maximilian's sunflower (Helianthus)|
|Buffalo-gourd (Cucurbita)||Mayapple (Podophyllum)|
|Camas (Camassia)||Meadowfoam (Limanthes)|
|Deer's tongue (Trilisa)||Mesquite (Prosopis)|
|Devil's-claw (Proboscidea)||Passionfruit (Passiflora)|
|Gama-grass (Tripsacum)||Pawpaw (Asimina)|
|Groundnut (Apios)||Persimmon (Diospyros)|
|Guayule (Parthenium)||Pinon (Pinus)|
|Hellebore (Veratrum)||Poplar (Populus)|
|High bush cranberry (Viburnum)||Prickleweed (Desmanthus)|
|Hog peanut (Amphicarpaea)||Purslane (Portulaca)|
|Husk tomato (Physalis)||Smooth sumac (Rhus)|
|Indian tobacco (Lobelia)||Sonoran panic grass (Panicum)|
|Iva (Iva)||Sunflower (Helianthus)|
|Johnsongrass (Sorghum)||Tepary bean (Phaseolus)|
|Non-United States Crops|
|Amaranth (Amaranthus)*||Okra (Abelmoschus)|
|Annona (Annona)||Oregano (Lippia)|
|Babasu (Jessenia)||Pearl millet (Pennisetum)|
|Canelilla (Euphorbia)||Panic grass (Panicum)|
|Canola (Brassica)||Quinoa (Chenopodium)*|
|Chia (Salvia)||Racacha (Arracacia)|
|Crambe (Crambe)||Solanums (Solanum)*|
|Eucalypt (Eucalyptus)||Sorghum (Sorghum)|
|Hylocereus (Hylocereus)||Spikenard ballota (Hyptis)|
|Kenaf (Hibiscus)||Sweet potato (Ipomoea)|
|Licorice (Glycyrrhiza)||Tuberous-nasturtium (Tropaeolum)|
|Niger seed (Guizotia)||Wildrye (Leymus)|
Table 3. Obstacles to new crops development as cited by respondents.
"Capitalism of the Most Virulent Variety"
Catch 22 (No market:No Grower)*
Commodity-Oriented Agricultural Program
Competition with "Old Crops"
Difficulty of Assembling Research Teams
Disinterest in "Traditional Crops"*
Inconstancy of Funding
Inflexibility of Ag Production Infrastructure
Lack of Congressional Support
Lack of Coordination
Lack of Continuity
Lack of Enough Economic Botanists
Lack of Funding*
Lack of Industry Support
Lack of Systems Approach
Lack of USDA Support
Lobbies (protecting extant food industries)
Narrow Scope of U.S. Scientists*
New Product Development
Overemphasis on Chemistry Overpopulation
Oversupply of Oil and Starch
Redirection (Shifting Sands)
Shipping (for Tropical Crops to Temperate Markets)
Subsidies for Traditional Crops Surplus*
Time for Crop Development
*Cited by five or more respondents.