UCR researchers looking into developing drought resistant crops

Synthetic chemical may help plants retain water

RIVERSIDE, Calif. - California's drought is now in its third year and it has researchers looking for ways to grow drought resistant crops.

Thanks to research at a plant lab at the University of California-Riverside, a synthetic compound has been identified that mimics a natural hormone in plants that stops them from losing water.

Drought tolerant crops sound like a good idea, but one local date grower isn't too sure about it, saying that promoting the possibility isn't the answer for farmers in dry years like this one.

"Even in the most productive use of a drought tolerant crop, you're only going to get a little more production," said Arthur Futterman, owner of Futterman Farms.  "The real issue is we need a comprehensive water plan for the state of California, really for the whole nation."
According to Sean Cutler, the lead plant cell biologist conducting the research at UCR, it could take years to determine if the synthetic chemical is safe for consumption or even practical for use on a large scale.

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