1 Department of Horticulture and Crop Science, and Department of Food, Agricultural, and Biological Engineering, The Ohio Agricultural Research and Development Center, Wooster Campus of the College of Food, Agricultural and Environmental Sciences, The Ohio State University, Wooster, OH 44691
Rubber dandelion (Taraxacum kok-saghyz, Rodin) is being developed as a temperate-zone source of rubber, but best agronomic practices must be determined before it can become a viable supplement to imported rubber produced from para rubber tree (Hevea brasiliensis, hevea) plantations located mostly in Southeast Asia. In our study, the effect of planting density and harvest time on yield was determined by transplanting 1.5-month-old greenhouse-produced plants at planting densities of 1.24, 2.47, 4.94, and 9.88 million plants/ha, randomized across four planting boxes with two densities per box (i.e., two planting areas at each density). Half of each planting area was selected randomly and hand-harvested after 6 months, and the remaining plants were hand-harvested after 1 year. Rubber yields per plant were greater after 1 year than after 6 months, but yields per unit area were similar as a result of the loss of half the plants during the severe 2013–14 Ohio winter. A maximum rubber yield of 960 kg dry rubber/ha was obtained from the 9.88 million-plants/ha planting density after 1 year, but root size was significantly decreased compared with lower densities, and appeared too small for mechanical harvest. A planting density between 2.47 and 4.94 million plants/ha may produce the optimal combination of root size and total rubber yield. Greater rubber concentrations, faster-growing plants, short-season germplasm, and in-field weed control are required before yields obtained in outdoor planting boxes can be matched or exceeded on farms, especially in a direct-seeded rubber dandelion crop.
This work was supported by an Ohio Agricultural Research and Development Center SEED grant, by the Institute of Materials Research at The Ohio State University, and by The Ohio Third Frontier. This work was also supported by the U.S. Department of Agriculture National Institute of Food, Agriculture, Hatch project 230837.
We thank Barbara Hellier for providing the seeds necessary to this work, and Dr. Charles Goebel for his advice on statistical analysis.
This article is a portion of the master’s thesis of G.M. Bates, Department of Food, Agricultural, and Biological Engineering.
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