Growers and Producers
Guar (Cyamopsis tetragonoloba), also called cluster bean, is a summer legume that is drought-tolerant with a low water use requirement. Guar is very well adapted to arid and semiarid climates, characterized by high temperature and plenty of sunshine. Guar is a viable rotation crop for growers in New Mexico and can help to diversify the crop production systems.
Although guar can be used for human and animal consumption, the greatest utility of guar is for its gum (a white powder) which can be extracted from the beans. Guar gum has many industrial applications that make it a very valuable commodity. The guar gum contains galactomannan, which is a polysaccharide used as a thickener and stabilizer in food industries, in pharmaceutical industries and for cosmetic products. However, more than 90% of guar gum is utilized in the oil and gas industry, where it is used as a gelling agent added to water, thus creating a high viscosity fluid that fractures the subsurface shale layers more efficiently for the liberation of oil and natural gas.
Most of the guar gum used in the oil and gas industry in the United States is currently imported from Asia, but it is possible to grow guar in the Southwest successfully and efficiently, to support domestic production of guar gum. The Sustainable Bioeconomy for Arid Regions Center in Arizona through the funding from USDA/NIFA is currently funding several projects in New Mexico, to optimize the growth and yield of guar. On-going trials are focused on variety evaluation, optimal seeding rates, irrigation and fertility management.
Guayule (Parthenium argentatum) is a plant that is native to the deserts of southern United States and Northern Mexico. Because guayule is a desert plant, it is very drought tolerant and can survive under harsh conditions. Guayule can produce natural rubber which is a valuable commodity for the manufacture of tires, gloves, and other products where natural rubber is demanded. Guayule rubber is different from the latex rubber imported from the tropics; in that it does not contain latex allergen that may present health-related challenges for sensitive individuals.
Currently, guayule has been domesticated and is currently grown by some farmers in Arizona. The Sustainable Bioeconomy for Arid Regions Center is funding several projects to develop guayule as an economic crop for farmers in the southwestern region. On-going research activities include cultivar selection for cold tolerance, irrigation management, and insect and weed control. Bridgestone Americas Inc. has been a strong partner of the SBAR Center for the advancement of guayule research in the Southwest.
We have conducted several field days and targeted meetings/workshops in Arizona and New Mexico, to share best management practices for growing guar and guayule. Specific factsheets and extension publications will be available that explain and document recent advances in research on guar and guayule.