Guar Improvement and Utilization in the U.S. Southwest: A Research and Extension Planning Proposal
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Guar (Cyamopsis tetragonoloba (L.) Taub.) is a heat-tolerant, drought tolerant crop with the potential to play an important role in maintaining productivity in the U.S. Southwest's semi-arid and even arid conditions. Guar is a low-input crop that is inexpensive to grow, given the know-how and appropriate growing conditions. It is better suited than nearly any crop grown in the region to thrive in tough dryland conditions, exacerbated by the loss of Ogallala irrigation water or diminishing water availability in the Rio Grande and Pecos River basins. Guar will not readily suffer should potential climate change alter Southwest U.S. crop production ecosystem temperature and rainfall.This planning proposal seeks funding to develop and submit a full SCRI SREP or CAP grant beginning in 2017. The grant application addresses plant breeding and genetics of guar--the legislative focus area that has the most potential for improving guar yields and quality, especially since almost all U.S. guar production uses varieties released in 1985 or earlier. A secondary but major focus area is improving production efficiency, and addressing long-term profitability of this crop.Guar production in the U.S. currently faces competition from cheap imported guar splits and guar gum. A portion of U.S. guar use met by domestic production, especially with a renewed commitment to focus on developing guar varieties that increase yield and preserve/ enhance guar gum quality, can buffer price and supply issues.Current research in U.S. guar is limited by low acreage and nil investment by private industry. There is no guar commodity group or grower association, thus no advocate for guar that seeks to develop funding to put into guar research. Seven SCRI project collaborators conduct a minimal amount of guar work without external funding, a significant bottleneck to guar improvement.This proposal takes a three-step approach to developing and improving guar for Southwest U.S. agriculture.First, people. Numerous university research and extension personnel, some with significant experience in guar, located in the four-state TX/OK/NM/AZ region, expressing interest in guar--have agreed to work together on exploring and developing ideas for this planning proposal, and have committed to attend a university/industry planning session and guar tour in Lubbock, TX (Aug. 2017).Second, a series of collaborative meetings each targeting one or more of four specific clienteles: producer listening and education meetings, university/industry conference and planning session, a guar industrial end-user/research discussion session, and web-based sessions with the food industry to explore similar exchange of information. Ultimately, we believe a concerted effort to improve guar will increase productivity and profitability for the crop.Third, gathering the input and ideas of the above series of meetings, project participants will work in concert to move toward a full proposal to pursue priority goals for guar in the 2017 SCRI pre-proposal/2018 full proposal.