Planting Density and Growth Cycle Affect Actual and Potential Latex and Rubber Yields in Taraxacum kok-saghyz

in HortScience

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.

Contributor Notes

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.

Corresponding author. E-mail: cornish.19@osu.edu.

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    Plants growing in planting boxes at densities of (A) 1.24, (B) 2.47, (C) 4.94, and (D) 9.88 million plants/ha. Photo taken on 8 Oct. 2013.

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    Plant retention rates 6 months (black circle) and 1 year (gray square) after transplanting in May 2013. The total number of plants harvested is expressed as a percentage of the original number of transplants. Trend lines are logarithmic and r2 values are reported.

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    Percentage of plants with a root weight greater than 7 g harvested from two 0.28-m2 quarter sections of each planting density after 6 months (black) and 1 year (gray).

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    Total root weight of all roots harvested and the mean from two 0.28-m2 quarter sections of each planting density after 6 months (black) and 1 year (gray).

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    Violin plots of Fall 2013 and Spring 2014 harvested rubber dandelion roots. The wide areas of the plot correspond to a high frequency of roots whereas the narrow areas indicate smaller amounts of roots of that size. Each individual box plot within the violin plot represents the inner second and third quartile, with the division of these boxes being the median root fresh weight. Bars extending from the boxes represent the lower and upper quartiles for root weight. Solid points represent outliers.

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    Total rubber (rubber + latex) (solid lines) and latex concentration (dashed lines) in roots harvested from two 0.28-m2 quarter sections of each planting density after six months (, ) and one year (, ). Values are the means of 15 randomly selected samples ± se.

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    Effect of position of quarter sections, within the boxes, on extractable latex content in roots harvested after 6 months and 1 year from the northern (dark bars) and southern (light bars) end of the planting boxes. Values are the means of 15 samples ± se.

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    The percentage of rubber in the form of latex in the roots for two 0.28-m2 plots after 6 months (black) and 1 year (gray). Percentages were calculated as [Latex/(Latex + Residual solid rubber)] × 100. Values are for random samples from complete harvests and are reported as mean ± se.

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    Total combined rubber harvestable averaged for two experimental plots harvested after 6 months () and 1 year (). Values are the mean of up to 15 samples for combined rubber per root multiplied by the number of harvested roots ±se of plants selected randomly from a complete harvest of a 0.28-m2 plot.

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    Daily maximum (black line) and minimum (gray line) air temperatures at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Wooster Experimental Research Station (lat. 40°46′20.9"N, long. 81.93°55′19.4"W) in Wooster, OH, from 1 May 2013 through 31 May 2014.

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    Daily soil temperature at a 10-cm depth in Wooster-Riddles silt loam soil at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Wooster Experimental Research Station (lat. 40°46′20.9"N, long. 81.93°55′19.4"W) in Wooster, OH, from 1 May 2013 through 31 May 2014.

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    Predicted rubber yields from three agricultural management systems all begun with a May transplanting date. Growth cycles: 1 year (), 6 months (), and 6 months with a 60-day postharvest cold storage () of roots weighing more than 7 g fresh weight. Values are based on the amount of harvestable rubber in 0.28-m2 plots in planting boxes extrapolated to a full hectare. The cold-storage values are based on roots greater than 7 g fresh weight doubling their rubber content postharvest.

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