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Berti, M.T. and A.A. Schneiter. 1993. Preliminary agronomic evaluation of new crops for North Dakota. p. 105-109. In: J. Janick and J.E. Simon (eds.), New crops. Wiley, New York.

Preliminary Agronomic Evaluation of New Crops for North Dakota

Marisol T. Berti and A.A. Schneiter

    1. Fenugreek
    2. Coriander
    1. Borage
    2. Calendula
    3. Camelina
    4. Quinoa
    5. Sesame
    1. Euphorbia
    2. Fennel
    3. Gumweed
    4. Niger
    5. Psyllium

The evaluation of new crops is an important ongoing process. Any crop that can be profitably produced in an area where it was not previously grown provides the producer an opportunity to diversify agricultural production. This is especially important in areas, such as the northern great plains where environmental conditions greatly restrict the crop species that can be grown. Preliminary studies have been initiated to identify and evaluate new crops with potential adaptation to North Dakota environments.

Twelve annual crops were evaluated but limited genetic diversity was tested within each species. Studies were conducted at Langdon, Carrington, Prosper, and Fargo, North Dakota and Breckenridge, Minnesota.



Trigonella foenum-graecum L., Fabaceae, is an annual that originated in Mediterranean regions and the near East and is used for imitation maple syrup flavoring, condiments, and for synthesis of hormones (Duke 1981). Fenugreek seeds contains 0.1 to 0.2% of diosgenin which is used for cortisone preparations and synthesis of other hormones (Jorgensen 1988). Fenugreekine a C27-steroidal sapogenin-peptide ester is present in plants and its hydrolysis gives diosgenin, yamogenin, and other products (Ghosal et al. 1974). Stand establishment and vigor were excellent at all locations and planting dates. No major shattering problems were observed. Several diseases, which have not been identified at this time, could be a limiting production factor.


Coriandrum sativum L., Apiaceae, is an annual native of the Mediterranean region (Purseglove et al. 1981). The seed is used as a spice and the oil which is rich in petroselinic fatty acid may have potential in industrial uses, although its cleavage to lauric acid remains expensive (Placek 1963; Kleiman 1990). Stand establishment and seedling vigor were excellent. Seed set was good although yields were reduced by lodging and shattering caused by strong winds.



Borago officinalis L., Boraginaceae, is an annual native to Europe, North Africa, and Asia Minor (Beaubaire and Simon 1987). Borage seeds contain gamma-linolenic acid (GLA) which is a precursor of prostaglandins in the human body (Cutting 1985; Jorgensen 1988; Kernoff 1977). Excellent stands and seed vigor were observed at all locations and planting dates. Average seed yield was 200 kg/ha which may have been limited by the lack of native pollinators. This observation must be confirmed by further research. High seed shatter (60 to 80%) may also have limited seed yield.


Calendula officinalis L., Asteraceae, is an annual native to Mediterranean regions. Calendula seeds are an important source of fatty acids with conjugated double bonds and could be used as an industrial oil (Beerentrup and Robbelen 1987b). Excellent stand and seed vigor were observed at all locations and planting dates. Seed yield was limited by ash blister beetles (Lytta sphaericollis Say), seed shattering, and seed cleaning difficulties.


Camelina sativa L., Brassicaceae, is an annual oilseed crop which originated in southwest and central Europe and is well adapted to Minnesota (Robinson 1987). Stand establishment was a problem due in part to the small seed size. Camelina flowered, set seed quickly and yielded acceptable amounts of seed (600 kg/ha) at Prosper, North Dakota. Shattering was a problem at some locations.


Chenopodium quinoa Willd., Chenopodiaceae, is a native of Andean regions in South America. The grain is used for human food in breakfast cereals, snack food, toasted, puffed, and flour products (Vietmeyer 1989). Good stands were obtained at the three southern locations. Several serious insect problems including leafhoppers, stem borers, leafminers, and lygus bugs (species have not been identified) significantly reduced yield. Insect control methods need to be developed in order to evaluate the potential of this crop in North Dakota.


Sesamum indicum L., Pedaliaceae, is a herbaceous annual that probably originated in Africa. The oil extracted from the seed is used for cooking and confectionary products. Dehulled whole seeds are used by the baking industry (Seegeler 1983). Stands were excellent at the three southern locations (Prosper and Fargo, North Dakota, and Breckenridge, Minnesota). Only one of the two cultivars tested reached physiological maturity before first frost.



Euphorbia lagascae Spreng, Euphorbiaceae, is an herbaceous annual plant native to Spain. Plants flower indeterminately, reach a height of 60 to 100 cm (White et al. 1973) and have potential as a source of epoxy acid which is present in the seed oil. Epoxy acid is used for adhesives, plasticizers, industrial coatings, varnishes, and paints (Kleiman et al. 1965; Beerentrup and Robbelen 1987a; Krewson and Scott 1966; Earle 1970). The eight lines tested were all late maturing, although some seed was obtained. Seed shattering was extensive. Lines with slightly earlier maturity may have potential in North Dakota.


Foeniculum vulgare var dulce (Mill.), Apiaceae, is a perennial plant grown as an annual, and has been exploited for its seed, leaves, and bulb (enlarged base of the stalk) (Simon 1989, 1990). Fruits (known as fennel seed) are used as condiments for food flavoring. Seeds are rich in petroselinic acid (Moreau et al. 1966) which can be used to form lauric and adipic acids, although this cleavage remains too expensive for commercial purposes (Kleiman 1990). The volatile oil extracted from fruits of fennel exhibits fungistatic toxicity (Shukla and Tripathi 1987). Although stand establishment and vigor was good at all locations, plants failed to produce viable seed prior to the first frost (Sept. 26).


Grindelia camporum (Greene), Asteraceae, is a perennial plant native to North America. Gumweed is a potential source of diterpene resin acids, which are extracted from the stem, leaves, and involucres (Mclaughlin 1986). Diterpene resin acids are used in inks, adhesives, and as a substitute or complement for pine rosin (a type of resin) (Hoffmann and McLaughlin 1986). Although a perennial plant, gumweed was grown in North Dakota to determine the potential biomass, yield, and resin production per hectare in one growing season. Poor stand establishment and slow rate of growth were the major agronomic deficiencies. Biomass yield was low. Anthesis did not occur prior to frost.


Guizotia abyssinica Cass., Asteraceae, is an annual plant believed to be native to Ethiopia. The crop is grown for its high quality oil which is extracted from the seed. Niger oil is used for human consumption and in the manufacture of soap and paints. Niger is also grown for bird food (Seegeler 1983). The five lines tested were all late maturing and seed set was low. Early maturing lines need to be developed in order for this crop to be productive in North Dakota. Severe root rot diseases (not identified) were observed.


Plantago ovata Forsk., Plantaginaceae, is an annual of west Asian origin (Dastur 1962). The seed contains about 30% mucilage (Mital and Bhagat 1979). The mucilage is the major use for the plant which is being grown mainly in India (Gupta 1982). It has medicinal uses (Costa et al. 1989; Zara and Mehta 1988) and has been incorporated into breakfast cereals, ice cream, instant beverages, bakery products, and dietary products (Chan and Wypiszyk 1988; Kalyanasundaram et al. 1984). Poor stand establishment and low seed set occurred at all locations and planting dates. The few plants established were very short (20 cm).


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