Edison Agrosciences is developing a sunflower rubber crop that will serve to diversify global rubber production and provide the US with an alternative source for this strategically important commodity. Sunflower is a native rubber-producing plant that represents an extremely attractive candidate for the development of a broad acreage rubber crop in the U.S. Sunflower leaves contain 1 – 2% of their weight in natural rubber and increasing that amount by a few percentage points would make sunflower an economical – and geographically diverse – source of natural rubber.
Sunflower is an annual crop grown on 1.7 million acres in the United States in 2020 with a peak of 5.5 million acres. This crop is seen as especially attractive because of its short growing season, relatively low water requirements and tolerance to stresses induced by both high and low temperatures. While most commercial sunflower production is currently in northern states, it also will fit into empty rotations in southern areas. Sunflower production is highly mechanized, allowing for the production of large acreages with minimal labor costs. Agronomics for sunflower production have been refined over decades, allowing for large production areas in diverse environments.