Diversity in seed production characteristics within the USDA-ARS limnanthes alba germplasm collection
Meadowfoam (L. alba) seeds are a source of long-chain fatty acids which are stable under diverse conditions. The fatty-acid composition makes this seed oil valuable for use in cosmetics, lubricants, rubber additives, and plastics. While a few meadowfoam cultivars have been developed, high-yielding germplasm is required for further crop improvement. The objective of this study was to evaluate potential seed production and associated morphological and phenological characteristics of 24 L. alba germplasm accessions maintained by the U.S. National Plant Germplasm System. The average seed yield varied from 39.3 to 221.3 g plot–1 and was significantly different among years in this evaluation. The average number of seeds floret–1 under pollination by naturally occurring insects was similar to the number of seeds developed without presence of pollinators. The number of days from sowing to first 10 and 50% bloom, as well as to the first and last seed maturity, varied significantly among years and accessions. Seed yield was positively correlated with 100-seed weight, the interval between first 10 and 50% bloom, and longest seed-bearing stem. The number of seeds floret–1 was not significantly correlated with seed yield. Significant interaction between accessions and years was observed for number of seeds floret–1 developed without insect pollinators, the interval between first 10 and 50% bloom, longest seed-bearing stem, number of days from sowing to first and last harvest, and harvest spread. Some germplasm accessions evaluated in this study had a higher seed yield than yields reported in the literature and exhibited advantageous characteristics applicable in meadowfoam improvement.