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Flowering and seed yield of lesquerella as affected by nitrogen fertilization and seeding rate

Adamsen, Floyd J., Coffelt, Terry A., Nelson, John M.
Industrial crops and products 2003 v.18 no.2 pp. 125
Lesquerella fendleri, flowering, seed productivity, nitrogen fertilizers, fertilizer rates, plant density, digital images, automation, image analysis, flowers, estimation, irrigation rates, planting date, new methods, oilseed crops, seed oils, yields, saturated fatty acids, plant response
The lesquerolic acid in lesquerella seed can be used in industrial applications such as greases, cosmetics, polishes, inks, and coatings. Successful commercialization of lesquerella will depend on the development of improved cultural practices. Lesquerella flowers are bright yellow and are prominently displayed. As a result, many cultural practices could be tied to flowering in a qualitative way. A new method of estimating flowers such as those of lesquerella using digital images has been developed that is rapid, not labor intensive, and can be automated. The purpose of this study was to determine the effects of nitrogen fertilizer and plant density on flowering of lesquerella and to develop relationships between seed yield and flowering. The lesquerella crop was planted on 15 October 1997, at the Maricopa Agricultural Center, approximately 40 km south of Phoenix, Arizona on a variable Mohall sandy loam (fine-loamy, mixed hyperthermic, Typic Haplargid). The experimental design was a complete factorial of three fertilizer rates and four seeding rates. Ammonium sulfate at rates of 0, 60 and 120 kg of N ha−1 was applied at flowering on 18 March 1998. Digital images of the plots were taken periodically from 19 March 1998 to 4 June 1998 using a color digital camera. Images were acquired between 1030 and 1300 h MST. In this experiment, the crop did not respond to seeding rate. Flowers present at initial bloom could be used to estimate stand establishment. The early flowers did not contribute much to final yield, but flowers present in the first 3 weeks of May were a good predictor of yield. Flowering increased with N additions and noticeable peaks in flowering occurred after irrigations. The new method was verified as a viable method for estimating flower number. The method of flower estimation should also be useful for plant breeders for selection of earlier maturing lines, which would increase the potential for use of lesquerella in rotational systems.