Table of Contents
Carr, P.M. 1993. Potential of fanweed and other weeds as novel industrial
oilseed crops. p. 384-388. In: J. Janick and J.E. Simon (eds.), New crops.
Wiley, New York.
Potential of Fanweed and Other Weeds as Novel Industrial Oilseed Crops*
Patrick M. Carr
- RESULTS AND DISCUSSION
- Black Mustard
- Wild Mustard
- Hare's Ear Mustard
- Euphorbia lagascae
- Weed Control
- Table 1
- Table 2
- Fig. 1
Diversification has been suggested as a possible strategy for improving the
financial condition of United States crop producers (Jolliff and Snapp 1988;
Jolliff 1989). Agricultural production of industrial feedstocks, for example,
would open additional markets to farmers who typically grow only food and feed
crops. In some instances, farm production of industrial feedstocks could be
quite profitable since high-value specialty chemicals are contained in the
seeds of some plants (Hinman 1986).
While crambe, (Crambe abyssinica Hochst.), ironweed [Vernonia
galamensis (Cass.) Less.], and several other plant species have been
identified as promising industrial crops (Princen 1983), few studies have
evaluated the potential of present weed species as sources of high-value
specialty chemicals and industrial feedstocks (Clopton and Triebold 1944;
Shultz et al. 1983). There are several weeds that are well adapted to growing
conditions in different regions of the United States and could be grown as
sources of industrial chemicals if domesticated. While a plant may contain
desirable chemicals or have valuable properties, it is unknown if these plant
species could be developed for field production. The objective of this
research was to evaluate the agronomic potential of four weeds occurring in the
Northern Great Plains: fanweed [Thlaspi arvense (L.)], black mustard
[Brassica nigra (L.) Koch], wild mustard [Brassica kaber (DC.)
Wheeler], and hare's ear mustard [Conringia orientalis (L.) Dumort].
These four weeds were studied since previous work indicated that each contained
valuable specialty chemicals (Appelqvist 1971), or were related to other plant
species which were sources of valuable chemicals. The potential of
Euphorbia lagascae Spreng., as a field crop was also considered since
past research indicates it may have potential as an industrial crop (Krewson
and Scott 1966), even though this plant species is neither native to, nor
naturalized in, the United States.
A field evaluation was conducted under dryland management at the Carrington
Research/Extension Center (47°30' N, 99°7' W) in central North Dakota.
Seed samples of a single accession of black mustard, hare's ear mustard, and
Euphorbia lagascae were obtained from the USDA/ARS National Center for
Agricultural Utilization Research in Peoria, Illinois, while seed of wild
mustard and fanweed were collected from wild stands. Seed of each species
along with crambe, an industrial crop which is grown in North Dakota, was
planted in nonreplicated 1.4 m2 plots on May 17. The agronomic
potential of each species was rated on the basis of its ease of establishment,
rate of growth, initiation and duration of flowering, susceptibility to lodging
and pests, seed development (determinate or indeterminate), susceptibility of
seeds to shatter, and other factors. Height of 10 plants of each species was
measured prior to harvest. A 0.7 m2 area was harvested by hand for
determination of dry matter, grain yield, and seed weight.
The six plant species included in the 1990 field experiment were each planted
in 8.2 m2 plots in a randomized complete block design with four
replicates. The agronomic potential of each plant species was evaluated as
described. A sunfleck ceptometer (Decagon Devices, Inc., Pullman, WA) was used
to quantify the amount of photosynthetically active radiation (PAR) that was
intercepted by the plant canopy in plots of two replicates on selected dates
during the growing season. Plants in a 1.9 m2 area from the central
portion of each plot were harvested for determination of dry matter, grain
yield, and seed weight. Seed oil content and fatty acid distribution of the
oil were determined for a representative sample of each species by mass
spectroscopy at the Food and Cereal Science Laboratory at North Dakota State
University, in a manner previously described (Riveland 1991).
Fanweed (syn. stinkweed, field pennycress, pennycress) was rated as
having excellent potential as a new crop if established in the fall (Table 1).
Poor germination of spring-sown fanweed seed was a problem. As a result, yield
of fanweed was low when planted in the spring. Metzger (1990) reported that
exposure to temperatures of 0° to 10°C for 3 to 6 weeks can break the
dormancy of fanweed seed. Dormancy can be broken if seed is scarified by
scratching the seedcoat (Best and McIntyre 1975), although this was not true
for spring-sown seed in this study. Broadcast planting rather than seed
drilling is desirable, since exposure to light seems to enhance seed
germination. Overwintering fanweed plants were in full-flower by mid-May,
while other plant species were still seedlings. Hence, seed production by most
fanweed plants was completed prior to the relatively hot, dry conditions which
developed by mid-July during 1990 and 1991.
Seeds, contained in pods, tended to shatter as plant moisture levels declined;
however, plants could be swathed to minimize harvest loss from shattering and
to promote uniform seed maturation. If swathed, fanweed could be harvested in
mid-June in the Northern Great Plains, possibly enabling a second crop to be
planted in the field during the same growing season. Double cropping would
likely be possible in more southern portions of its range in North America.
Individual fanweed plants established in the fall produced an average of 1,600
seeds, translating into an estimated yield of about 1,500 kg/ha for both years.
This yield is similar to that reported in Montana during the 1940s when fanweed
was experimentally grown under irrigated management (Clopton and Triebold
1944), and to seed production estimates of wild stands in Canada (Best and
McIntyre 1975). Seed yields in excess of 1,300 kg/ha are not unusual when seed
from wild fanweed stands is grown in the northern United States.
Fanweed demonstrated potential as an industrial crop on the basis of seed oil
content and composition (Table 2). Fanweed seed contained about 26% oil by
weight; the oil, in turn, was close to 40% erucic acid (22:1). Erucic acid is
an unusual fatty acid with several industrial applications (Van Dyne et al.
1990). While the level of erucic acid in the seed produced by crambe was
greater than that produced by fanweed, consideration of pests, crop rotations,
and other factors could make fanweed a promising candidate for new crop
Black mustard was rated as having very good to excellent agronomic potential.
Plants were easy to mechanically sow and manage. Growth was vigorous and large
plants developed (Table 1). Seed production was underway by early July; the
seeds which developed were contained in pods from 1.3 to 1.9 cm long which
tended to shatter as plant moisture levels declined. Plants would probably
need to be swathed prior to harvesting. Black mustard may fit as a short
season crop in some crop rotations in the Northern Great Plains.
Black mustard produced relatively large amounts of seed (>1,200 kg/ha)
during 1990 and 1991 (Table 1). In 1991, close to 1,900 kg/ha of seed was
produced, making black mustard the highest yielding species evaluated. By
comparison, yield of crambe averaged 1,820 kg/ha in 1991. Unlike fanweed, seed
dormancy was not a serious problem with black mustard, so relatively good plant
stands were fairly easy to establish in the spring.
Black mustard produced seed that was 32% oil (Table 2). Of this, roughly 40%
was erucic acid. As with fanweed, black mustard demonstrated potential as an
industrial crop, even though crambe seed contained greater amounts of erucic
Wild mustard (charlock, kaber mustard) was considered to have very good to
excellent agronomic potential. Plants were easy to mechanically sow and
manage, and seeds appeared to lend themselves to mechanical harvesting methods.
As with fanweed and black mustard, seeds of wild mustard were susceptible to
shattering so plants would probably be swathed prior to harvesting the seed if
grown on a field-scale.
Wild mustard produced roughly 2,000 kg/ha of seed during 1990 and 1991 (Table 1). Individual plants produced an average of 2,076 seeds which were contained
in pods approximately 2.5 cm in length. The seed contained about 26% oil but
failed to be comprised of a high percentage of highly valued fatty acids (Table 2). For this reason, wild mustard was considered to have low potential as an
Hare's ear mustard (syn. hare's mustard) was considered to have moderate
agronomic potential. Plants were generally easy to mechanically sow and
manage. However, about 15% of the stand was destroyed by an unknown pathogen
in 1991. Plants were short (<40 cm) and some seed pods were less than 10 cm
above the soil surface (Table 1). This could present difficulties in the
mechanical harvesting process. Seed could be harvested without first swathing
the plants since seed pods were not susceptible to shattering.
Hare's ear mustard produced relatively low quantities of seed in 1990 and 1991
field evaluations; yields averaged 901 kg/ha in 1990 and only 549 kg/ha in 1991
(Table 1). Individual plants produced an average of 590 seeds which were
contained in seed pods about 5 cm in length.
Hare's ear mustard produced seed containing about 30% oil, with close to 30% of
the oil being comprised of erucic acid (Table 2). Other research indicates
that the oil contains additional fatty acids with industrial applications
(Appelqvist, 1971). It seems that further consideration of hare's ear mustard
as an industrial crop is warranted.
Euphorbia lagascae was considered to have the lowest agronomic potential
of all plant species. Seed development was indeterminate and fruits containing
the seed burst violently as the seed approached maturity. Still, this plant
species was agronomically attractive in several respects. The seed was large
and easy to mechanically sow. Seedlings grew rapidly and were easy to manage.
Grasshoppers and other insect pests did not appear to feed on Euphorbia
lagascae. Improvements in seed retention are needed.
Euphorbia lagascae produced an abundance of seed in 1990 and 1991 field
evaluations, but much of the seed could not be collected due to seed
shattering. Hence, harvested seed only amounted to about 200 kg/ha during 1990
and 150 kg/ha during 1991 (Table 1). Further studies are needed to assess seed
yields when plants are swathed prior to harvesting.
Euphorbia lagascae produced seed which contained over 50% oil by weight.
Past research determined that the oil contained over 50% vernolic acid (K.
Carlson 1991 pers. commun.), making it a promising candidate for new crop
development if genetic improvements and/or management practices could enhance
the mechanical harvestability of seed.
Weeds were a problem and had to be removed by hand throughout the growing
season. Effective weed control strategies must be developed for each plant
species. The plant canopy produced by crambe intercepted more than 90% of the
incident PAR after June 13 in the 1991 field evaluation (Fig. 1). Only small
amounts of PAR could penetrate the canopy after this date and reach weed
seedlings which were developing underneath. This may explain why weed pressure
was much greater in hare's ear mustard than in crambe plots, since more than
50% of the incident PAR reached weed seedlings developing under a canopy of
hare's ear mustard through most of the growing season.
Fanweed, black mustard, hare's ear mustard, and Euphorbia lagascae
contain fatty acids with important industrial applications. These plants have
varying degrees of potential as novel industrial crops. Fanweed is adapted to
growing conditions in the Great Plains and seems suited to field production
methods. Approximately 1,500 kg/ha of seed was produced in 1990-91 field
evaluations in North Dakota. This seed contained about 180 kg/ha of erucic
acid, an unusual fatty acid with several industrial uses. Black mustard and
hare's ear mustard also produced seed containing erucic acid, but these weed
species appeared to have less potential than fanweed as industrial crops when
agronomic factors were considered. Seed harvesting difficulties with
Euphorbia lagascae and failure of wild mustard seed oil to contain
high-value fatty acids presently limit their potential as industrial crops.
- Appelqvist, R.K. 1971. Lipids in cruciferae VIII. The fatty acid composition
of some wild and partially domesticated species. J. Amer. Oil Chem. Soc.
- Best, K.F. and G.I. McIntyre. 1975. The biology of Canadian weeds. 9.
Thlaspi arvense L. Can. J. Plant Sci. 55:279-292.
- Clopton, J.R. and H.O. Triebold. 1944. Fanweed seed oil: potential substitute
for rapeseed oil. Ind. Eng. Chem. 36:218-219.
- Hinman, C.M. 1986. Potential new crops. Sci. Amer. 255:33-37.
- Jolliff, G.D. 1989. Strategic planning for new-crop development. J. Prod.
- Jolliff, G.D. and S.S. Snapp. 1988. New crop development: opportunity and
challenges. J. Prod. Agr. 1:83-89.
- Krewson, C.F. and W.E. Scott. 1966. Euphorbia lagascae Spreng., an
abundant source of epoxyoleic acid: seed extraction and oil composition. J.
Amer. Oil Chem. Soc. 43:171-174.
- Metzger, J. 1990. Stories on the control of flowering in field pennycress
(Thlaspi arvense L.), p. 3. In: Proc. North Dakota Acad. Sci. 44:3.
82nd Annual Meeting. April 19-20, Fargo, ND.
- Princen, L.H. 1983. New oilseed crops on the horizon. Econ. Bot.
- Riveland, N. 1991. Oil quality and quantity of alternative oil seeds, p.
8-15. In: Alternative crop and alternative crop production research: a
progress report. North Dakota State Univ., Fargo, ND.
- Shultz, E.B., Jr., W.P. Darby, H.M. Draper III, and R.P. Morgan. 1984. Novel
marginal-land oilseeds: potential benefits and risks, p. 13-42. In: E.B
- Shultz, Jr. and R.P. Morgan (eds.). Fuels and chemicals from oilseeds:
technology and policy options. AAAS Selected Symposia Ser. 91. Westview
Press, Boulder, CO.
- Van Dyne, D.L., M.G. Blase, and K.D. Carlson. 1990. Industrial feedstocks and
products from high erucic acid oil: crambe and industrial rapeseed. Univ.
Missouri-Columbia, Columbia., MO.
*Sincere appreciation is extended to R. Kleiman, research leader for new crops
and K. Carlson, a research chemist, both at the USDA/ARS National Center for
Agricultural Utilization Research, for providing seed, seed oil composition
data, and helpful advice, and to N. Hettiarachchy, Associate Professor of
Cereal Science and Food Technology at North Dakota State University, for
determining the seed oil content and composition of the plant species included
in this investigation.
Table 1. Selected agronomic characteristics of weed species evaluated
during 1990 and 1991 in central North Dakota.
z0 = none, 1 = severe.
| ||Date established ||Duration of flowering ||Lodgingz ||Plant ht (cm) ||Seed yield (kg/ha) ||Seed weight (g/100 seed)|
|Plant ||1990 ||1991 ||1990 ||1991 ||1990 ||1991 ||1990 ||1991 ||1990 ||1991 ||1990 ||1991|
|Fanweed ||June 19 ||May 13 ||July 15- Aug 13 ||June 7- July 1 ||0.5 ||0.5 ||43 ||27 ||200 ||119 ||0.09 ||0.07|
| ||Sept 1 ||Aug 25 ||May 20- June 15 ||May 13- June 15 ||0.5 ||0.5 ||28 ||67 ||1628 ||1414 ||0.08 ||0.08|
|Black mustard ||May 27 ||May 10 ||June 29- Aug 8 ||June 13- Aug 20 ||1.0 ||1.0 ||176 ||126 ||1243 ||1875 ||0.17 ||0.16|
|Wild mustard ||May 27 ||Apr 29 ||June 8- July 26 ||June 5- Aug 14 ||1.0 ||1.0 ||67 ||83 ||2005 ||1849 ||0.24 ||0.25|
|Hare's ear mustard ||June 11 ||May 26 ||July 9- July 29 ||June 3- July 21 ||1.0 ||1.0 ||37 ||27 ||901 ||549 ||0.16 ||0.19|
|Euphorbia lagascae ||May 29 ||May 15 ||July 6- Sept 20 ||June 12- Sept 28 ||1.0 ||1.0 ||72 ||42 ||201 ||147 ||0.91 ||1.18|
|Crambe ||May 24 ||Apr 26 ||June 26- July 31 ||June 1- July 29 ||1.0 ||1.0 ||89 ||61 ||1997 ||1820 ||0.64 ||0.62|
Table 2. Fatty acid acid composition of the seed oil.
| ||Fatty acid composition (% of total seed oil)|
|Plant ||16:0 ||18:0 ||18:1 ||18:2 ||20:0 ||22:1|
|Black mustard ||4.8 ||0.0 ||14.3 ||17.9 ||14.0 ||37.6|
|Wild mustard ||3.9 ||2.2 ||35.7 ||22.7 ||17.6 ||6.4|
|Crambe ||1.4 ||0.8 ||14.0 ||6.2 ||1.0 ||62.9|
|Fanweed ||2.7 ||0.0 ||13.8 ||20.2 ||9.0 ||37.8|
|Hare's ear mustard ||2.5 ||0.0 ||5.8 ||27.5 ||2.2 ||26.9|
||Fig. 1. Percent of photosynthetically active radiation intercepted by the plant canopy.
Last update September 12, 1997