Janick, J. 1996. Preface. p. xviii-xix. In: J. Janick (ed.), Progress in new crops. ASHS Press, Arlington, VA.


Jules Janick

This volume, Progress in New Crops, is the Proceedings of the Third National Symposium, entitled New Crops: New Opportunities, New Technologies, held October 22-25, l995, in Indianapolis, Indiana. The objectives of the symposium, as in the previous two symposia, were to provide a national forum for leading authorities from industry, government, experiment stations, and academia, as well as growers, to discuss the status and future of new crop development. Although the symposium was national in scope, a significant international presence indicated the global appeal of new and alternate crops.

As in the previous symposia, we encountered a wave of euphoria, enthusiasm, and good feelings about new crops and their potential for enriching the agriculture of the United States and other countries. Some questioned if we were preaching to the choir and proselytizing the converted. While one goal of these meetings was to strengthen the fervor of the faithful, it is clear that apocalyptic changes that increase the relevance of new crops are indeed on the horizon. These include declines in crop subsidies, increasing concerns over sustainable agriculture, rural discontent, and demand for diversity in diets.

Enthusiasm for new and alternate crops is manifested by increasing emphasis on farm diversification, by greater industry interest in plant resources, and by continual expansion of food offerings in supermarkets. Recent changes in the l995 Farm Bill have created agricultural legislation decreasing crop subsidies that will encourage increasing diversification in US agriculture and move farmers to become more attuned to market forces.

Many persons have contributed to the success of this symposium and volume. I gratefully acknowledge the other members of the program committee (Robert Anderson, Robert Kleiman, Steve Knapp, Dan Kugler, Rob Myers, Dennis Ray, Henry Shands, and James Simon) and the sponsors and benefactors listed on the title page, who backed up their belief in new crops with tangible support necessary to make the symposium and thus, this volume, a reality. I especially acknowledge the expertise of Anna L. Whipkey, who was in charge of all computer operations for both the symposium and this volume and who transformed the edited manuscripts into computer files which were transferred directly to print.

This volume's contents include papers from invited speakers as well as from those who presented posters. Contributions cover a diverse assortment of crops, topics, and views. The book is divided into three parts. Part I (New Crops, New Opportunities) includes the two keynote addresses and papers on international and national aspects of new crops. Part II (New Crops Policy and Programs) includes three subsections: Policy, Marketing and Commercialization, and Information Explosion. The banquet address by Frieda Caplan describing the origins and development of Frieda's Inc. leads off the Commercialization subsection. Part III (New Crops, New Technologies) is subdivided, as in the other two volumes, by major crop groupings (Cereals and Pseudocereals, Grain Legumes, Forages, Oilseeds, Industrial Crops, Fiber Crops, Fruits and Nuts, Vegetables, Floral and Landscape Crops, Medicinal, Aromatic, Spice, and Bioactive Crops, and Crops in Space).

This volume and its two predecessors, Advances in New Crops, published in l990 by Timber Press, Portland Oregon (Proceedings of the First National Symposium New Crops: Research, Development, Economics) and New Crops, published by Wiley, New York in l993 (Proceeding of the Second National Symposium New Crops: Exploration, Research, Commercialization) provide an overview of new and underexploited crops including economics, exploration, commercialization, research, and development. Each volume has a detailed index, so that the three-volume set constitutes a veritable encyclopedia of new and underexploited crops.

Finally, it is my pleasure to dedicate this work to Frieda Caplan and Julia Morton, two gracious women who have made an enormous impact on the field of new crops. Frieda Caplan, by innovative marketing and promotion, has, without a doubt, done more than any person to make new food crops known to the Amercian consumer. Julia Morton, a distinguished economic botanist, has compiled an enormous treasury of technical information through her many books and her devotion to the Morton Collectanea, a specialized reference and research department devoted to the acquisition, classification, physical collation, and maintenance of subject-filed data in the field of economic botany, with special emphasis on the tropics and subtropics. Their contributions to our field can only be repaid if we redouble our efforts to ensure that the enormous potential of new crops is realized.