From rubber tree to dandelion – a local alternative source of natural rubber

January 2, 2019

On Friday November 30th, 2018 the Belgium Minister of Agriculture Joke Schauvliege attended the last 2018 harvest of rubber dandelion plants on a 2 hectares trail field in Flanders, Belgium. The harvest took place in Flanders as ILVO, an independent research institute for agriculture, fisheries and food in Flanders is one of the main research partners. 

Anker Sørensen, VP New Business from KeyGene, also joined this special moment as the freshly harvested plants derive from KeyGene’s dandelion breeding program. The plants harvested are for one of KeyGene’s selections of the Kazakh (rubber) dandelions. Several rounds of selection resulted in a dandelion plant with a yield of 300 kg of rubber per year per hectare.  In the breeding program the Kazakh (rubber) dandelion is also crossed with the Dutch (common) dandelion in order to increase the yield of latex in the roots of the plant to at least 750 kg per hectare.

To be economically feasible the yield of natural rubber has to increase up to 700 – 900 kg per year per hectare. Therefore, ILVO and KeyGene are going to continue their collaboration and are looking for new partners. Not only to optimize the cultivation and harvest of the dandelion plants but also for extraction facilities. Next to this, KeyGene will focus on the breeding of the plant; larger roots for higher yield of natural rubber. Final goal of the project is to grow dandelions in the European region and thereby supply Europe with its own  natural rubber.

Anker Sorensen:

“ We strongly believe in the potential of natural rubber from dandelion plants and therefore we keep investing in research. Together with ILVO we focus on further optimization of cultivation and partner with the international rubber industry. Within several years we want to bring new varieties on the market.”