University News

Win Phippen discusses Western's alternative crops research at the 2006 field day.
[Download Print-Quality Image]

A 2006 field day participant takes a moment to stroll through some of WIU's alternative crops demonstration plots.
[Download Print-Quality Image]

Alternative Crops Field Day July 19

June 27, 2007

Printer friendly version

MACOMB, IL -- It's the guardian of Monarch butterflies, and it's grown by Western Illinois University's Alternative Crops Research Program. The protector? Milkweed, of course. Monarch caterpillars dine on the plant, which converts to a nasty-tasting potion that makes Monarchs an unappetizing meal for birds.

Milkweed, along with numerous other alternative crops, will be featured at the Alternative Crops Field Day from 2-4 p.m. Thursday, July 19 at the WIU Agriculture Field Laboratory, located directly north of the Harry Mussatto Golf course on Tower Road in Macomb. WIU Agriculture Department Associate Professor Win Phippen and Research Agronomist Fred Iutzi will host.

According to Phippen, this year's event will consist of an expanded demonstration plot highlighting new and alternative crops to Illinois. With funding from the Illinois Council for Food and Agricultural Research (C-FAR), a large demonstration plot will have examples of oilseed, fiber and biomass crops for bio-fuels, such as ethanol and biodiesel. Frank Dohleman from the University of Illinois will provide an update on miscanthus research and the new Energy Biosciences Institute, while Andrew Heggenstaller of Iowa State University will discuss choosing crops for future cellulosic ethanol markets.

"Today's conventional crops took decades to develop and have involved numerous breeders. New and alternative crops, on the other hand, have few breeders and little support from growers until they are proven," Phippen explained. "To illustrate this point, the demonstration plot will also include the breeding history of soybeans, corn, sunflower and the newly developed crop, cuphea."

The field day will include a guided tour of the demonstration plot, cuphea breeding plots, bio-mass and bio-energy crops, herbicide screening plots on cuphea and okra, cuphea insect resistance evaluation trial and milkweed research and production plots.

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, or Iutzi at 309/298-1522 or

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