Adaptation of Crambe Species as an Alternate Biological Source of Oil and Protein for Arid Lands Agriculture
A preliminary study of the adaptation of Crambe spp. to arid lands agricultural conditions as an alternate biological source of oil and protein was made by: (1) obtaining crambe seed stocks of wide genotypic variation, (2) developing preliminary screening procedures and guidelines for evaluating the arid lands adapatation potential of Crambe spp., and (3) screening crambe germplasm for adaptability to water deficits, heat, and salinity. Approximately 1,740 entries of cultivars, experimental lines, and plant introductions of Crambe spp. were acquired and increased for screening purposes. Crambe plant-water relationships and screening techniques were evaluated under greenhouse conditions. Selected cultivars and experimental lines were field evaluated for adaptation to water deficits and heat in spring plantings in southern New Mexico using a line source sprinkler system to develop broad gradients of soil moisture. Evaluations included plant growth and development, plant-water relationships, earliness of maturity and seed yield. Results were generally discouraging although some variability for drought tolerance among the germplasm studied was indicated. Seed yields and seed quality from seed increase plantings and field tests were unacceptably low, casting serious doubt on the adaptability of crambe to the conditions under which the tests were made. Screening of germplasm for salinity tolerance was restricted because of unavailability of quality seed.