We are working to develop a domestic natural rubber crop in Ohio and for the U.S.
Natural rubber security is becoming a major problem for the United States. In 2019, a tsumani of events converged to disrupt supplies of the critical imported agricultural material. Leaf blights infected over 1 million acres of rubber trees in seven countries, extreme weather events and labor shortages impeded production, leading to a 10% drop in production (1.4 million tons). At the same time, the COVID-19 pandemic doubled demand for protective gloves to 600 billion/year. Although nitrile manufactures can make up about 100 billion of this increase that still leaves an increased demand of one million tons of natural rubber in latex form. Imports are even more challenged because rubber and latex shipments have more than doubled in price as shipping container costs have increased 12 fold by October 2021.
Natural rubber is a vital resource for any developed country and is used in over 40,000 commercial products. While the use of synthetic rubber has surpassed natural rubber in quantity, there are particular properties and high-performance applications that make natural rubber irreplaceable by synthetic rubber.
OSU's Rubber Pilot Plant produces high quality rubber for the tire industry and medical quality latex hypoallergenic gloves.
Cornish Lab Group hand-planted approximately 61 miles of Buckeye Gold in 2013. That's a lot of dandelions!
Cornish Lab Group is a joint program comprised of both Horticulture and Crop Sciences and Department of Food, Agricultural and Biological Engineering PI's and Graduate Students.