Enhanced Chia Production & Product Development

Grants and Contracts Details


Salvia hispanica, has the potential to be an economically viable new crop for KY farmers but agronomic improvements and/or additional product markets are needed. The objectives of this ongoing research are to: 1.) Continue to develop new chia lines with improved yield and other agronomic characteristics by traditional and further mutagenesis particularly seed retention, reduced lodging, larger seeds and higher oil, protein and ù3 levels. 2.) Development of a process for mechanical processing chia into embryo/heart and husk/hull fractions. 3.) Further market development of nutrigel fiber, ù3 applications and improved protein product streams from chia including as fish and shrimp feed. The most promising lines from the 2018 harvests will be used in replicated agronomic performance trials at UK research farms in 2019. Data on total plant biomass and seed yield will be collected, as well as flowering date, harvest date, lodging score, and any pest problems. Harvested seed will be analyzed for protein, oil, fatty acids and fiber. The most promising line for production in KY was subjected to a further round of mutagenesis. Lines with larger seed, higher oil, reduced lodging and lower shattering are being evaluated in the field in 2018 and the most promising segregants will be further analyzed in 2019. Breeding for higher yielding chia lines that can set seed in Kentucky will continue by crossing with the best additional chia genetic materials. These will be planted by mid- to late May for full-season chia. Some will also again be planted in mid-July to assess if any of these lines will be suitable for double cropping behind wheat or barley or even flax or winter canola. To ensure that meaningful results are obtained for farmers, minimal irrigation will be applied if needed to obtain a moderate crop. For commercialization of these lines as a high ù3 oil in addition to chia as whole seed products we have selected lines with higher oil and ù3 levels with maturation suitable for production in KY. Seeds of F2 plants ranged from 54 to 67% ù3. High oil and high ù3 lines were planted in the field in 2017 and further selection and line stabilization are being done in 2018. This chia improvement breeding will continue in 2019. NMR and NIRS oil, protein and moisture calibrations that have been developed and are being applied to selecting higher oil and protein chia lines. Chia lines with increased seed retention have been selected and some had increased retention (lower shattering loss) in the field in 2016 and 17 and are being further evaluated in 2018. Work on processing and marketing chia for new commercialization opportunities for KY growers for food, health, aquaculture and renewable chemical markets is continuing including study the formation, isolation, health properties, processing and marketing opportunity of chia water adsorbing fiber in addition to the oil and high protein meal for food, health, cosmetic and industrial applications. Whole chia seed and fractions will be investigated for high value aquaculture including fresh water shrimp. Removal of as much of the fiber as readily feasible to another product stream will likely make the remaining high protein/high ù3 meal more valuable as fish feed. The oxidative stability of chia oil and whole chia seed products compared to commodity and high ù3 oil sources will be further studied for special high value health, nutraceutical and food applications. The chemical processes for converting chia oil into a high value renewable lubricant/motor oil and fuel cell energy source will be further refined and the physical and engineering properties compared to current sources. Chemical and engineering tests with multiple groups show appropriately converted chia oil to be very promising for renewable lubricant and fuel cell applications.
Effective start/end date9/1/1812/31/19


  • Kentucky Small Grain Growers Association: $15,000.00


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