University News

Alternative Crops Field Day

July 10, 2008

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MACOMB, IL -- With the high cost of gas, who wouldn't be interested in bio-diesel alternatives?

Crops for bio-diesel markets, along with numerous other alternative crops, will be featured at the Alternative Crops Field Day from 2-4 p.m. Thursday, July 17 at the Western Illinois University Agriculture Field Laboratory, located directly north of the Harry Mussatto Golf Course on Tower Road in Macomb. WIU Agriculture Department Professor Win Phippen will host.

According to Phippen, this year's Alternative Crops Field Day will focus on crops for cellulosic biomass, bio-diesel markets and other industrial applications. Western's latest research in crop rotation studies with winter annual crops -- Canola, Pennycress and Camelina -- to maximize production in Illinois will be discussed, as will University of Illinois research on tropical corn.

"We are also excited that at this year's field day we will demonstrate our new Milkweed processor. This piece of equipment is capable of separating milkweed pods into floss, seed and empty hulls and will help our efforts in developing potential new markets for Milkweed products," Phippen added.

As part of Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich's "Opportunity Returns" economic development plan, Western's alternative crops research program, led by Phippen, received a $30,000 state grant in 2004 to boost its Milkweed research. Phippen is the only researcher in the country working on Milkweed as a crop and has now been working nearly seven years creating a "domesticated" Milkweed plant as an alternative crop for Illinois producers.

The field day will include a guided tour of the demonstration plot, cuphea breeding plots, herbicide screening plots, milkweed research and production plots and much more.

The event is open free to the public; reservations are not required. Refreshments will be provided. For more information, contact Phippen at 309/298-1251 or

Posted By: Darcie Shinberger (
Office of University Communications & Marketing