AURORA - Researchers at the Oregon State University's North Willamette Research and Extension Center have developed a promising additional product from a plant called meadowfoam, grown increasingly by Oregon farmers as an oil seed crop.

Meadowfoam's flowers resemble foam-colored buttercups and it is sometimes sold as an ornamental. However, the plant's chief commercial asset is the high-grade oil yielded from crushing its seeds. Meadowfoam oil can substitute for whale oil or jojoba oil in making lubricants, cosmetics and plastics.

Now OSU researchers Wes Deuel and Sven Svenson have announced development of a new product called Limnax, which uses crushed meadowfoam seeds known as seedmeal. Limnax is sold as a high-grade mulch and amendment for both farm and nursery soils.

Limnax may have another commercial use as well, said Deuel, a graduate research assistant. Deuel and Svenson, a horticulture professor, are testing Limnax as a biological, environmentally friendly way to control some weeds and pests.

Deuel said Limnax appears to be effective in controlling clubroot and weeds in crops such as cabbage, cauliflower, mustard and turnips.

"Limnax may actually enhance the effectiveness of other biological control tools," Deuel said. "The data we obtain from these studies should provide protocol for use of Limnax applications in other crops such as sweet corn, squash, peppers, onions, green beans, cranberry and strawberry, to name just a few."

Svenson said Oregon's nursery industry has contributed to the research into Limnax. Earlier research showed that some ingredients similar to those in Limnax acted as an effective pesticide against certain harmful larvae, inhibited growth of some weeds and controlled some kinds of plant diseases.

"For nursery crops grown in containers, Limnax has provided good control of a pesky weed called liverwort," Svenson said. "Limnax could reduce a nursery's need to use herbicides."

Duel said that is of particular interest to the nursery industry now.

"In light of current restrictions imposed by the EPA on a number of synthetic pesticides, we hope to fast-track this product into registration, thereby providing growers with an effective biological alternative to synthetic compounds," Deuel said.

Development of this new product was possible because of a collaborative effort between the Oregon Meadowfoam Growers-Natural Plant Products and researchers in OSU's departments of horticulture, botany and plant pathology, crop and soil science and entomology.

The initial funding for the project, which started in March 1998, came from the Oregon Meadowfoam Growers. Other contributions have come from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the Oregon Department of Agriculture, the Oregon Association of Nurserymen, the Horticulture Research Institute, the Oregon Processed Vegetable Commission, the Oregon Caneberry Commissions and donations from various Oregon nurseries.

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Wes Deuel, 503-678-1264 ext. 46