Rubber alternative

GUAYULE is an arid-zone crop that is one of only two species yielding rubber in quantities substantial enough for commercial use. Unlike the rubber tree, guayule can be cultivated in marginal lands and provide income to desert dwellers. The whole plant, except the leaves, produces rubber.

Scientists at Haryana Agricultural University in Hissar selected the 'HG 8' variety of guayule, introduced from Arizona, USA, and found its average rubber yield was 16.9 quintals/ha (Indian Farming, Vol 42 No 5). The plant produces the most rubber when it is two-and-a-half years old and grown in water-deficit conditions. 'HG 8' is impervious to insect pests but easily susceptible to root rot that occurs when water stagnates. Rubber is extracted from the uprooted plant that is cut up and processed. The plant develops seeds without fertilisation.