University of Nevada Evaluates Cactus Pear as Versatile Crop

Research at the University of Nevada, Reno, explored the potential of cactus pear (Opuntia ficus-indica) as a a biofuel, food, and forage crop. Researchers say this drought- and heat-tolerant plant offers promise as a sustainable crop for arid regions. With dry areas predicted to become even drier with climate change, finding a productive crop species is key, as temperatures and lack of water will rule out increasing numbers of traditional crops. This five-year study focused on the use of spineless cactus pear as a high-temperature, low-water commercial crop. In addition to providing fuel, food, and forage, the plant also functions as a land-based carbon sink.