Limnanthes alba Benth. and related species are native plants adapted to vernal pools of the Pacific Northwest. Meadowfoam cultivars developed over the past 30 years have more upright growth, higher oilseed yield and reduced shattering compared to wild relatives. The oil contains novel long-chain fatty acids (C20-C22) with an unusual Δ5 desaturation. It is light-colored, odor free, and has exceptional oxidative stability. Meadowfoam oil is currently sold for use in personal care products, but also has potential as a raw material in biolubricants and other industrial applications. Meadowfoam meal contains the glucosinolate glucolimnanthin. Degradation products from glucolimnathin have demonstrated biopesticidal properties, particularly weed suppression. Meadowfoam is one of the few winter annuals that can be used as a rotation crop in grass seed production systems in the Willamette Valley of Oregon, providing a much-needed alternative to field burning.
Several recent innovations in the research program at OSU have facilitated the improvement of meadowfoam productivity and profitability for Oregon cropping systems. In the breeding program, use of blue bottle flies and blue orchard bees as alternative pollinators have made it possible to develop large numbers of inbred lines and make controlled recombinations among selected lines with relative ease. An S1-testcross selection scheme has been implemented that overcomes former limitations in the quantities of seed available for evaluating families in replicated trials. Methods have also been developed at OSU to enhance the biopesticidal properties of meadowfoam seed meal. Experiments are underway to determine the best practices for use of the meal under field conditions. A natural biopesticide from meadowfoam meal would have application in organic and other high-value crop production systems.