Dandelions could be new cash crop

ST. LOUIS — Illinois farmers interested in something new may want to take a look at dandelions.

A St. Louis company is in the process of developing an industry producing the Russian dandelion for the latex it produces. The potential is promising.

The United States imports $5 billion in rubber annually, said Dan Swiger, chief executive officer of Kultevat (pronounced like the word “cultivate”). A veteran of the alternative rubber market, Swiger believes there is good opportunity for producing rubber from the roots of the dandelion plant and supplying industry in the U.S.

“While car and airplane tires certainly represent a large share of the market, natural rubber touches our daily lives in ways we do not consider,” he said. “The shoes we wear to exercise, the rubber bands we use to hold our produce together, the gum we chew — among many other examples — all use natural rubber.” (read more)