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industrial crop[in′dəs·trē·əl ¦kräp]
a cultivated plant that is used as raw material by any one of various branches of industry. They are divided into several groups according to the product obtained. Starch-bearing crops, which contain starch in their tubers, include potatoes, sweet potatoes, and yams. Sugar-bearing plants contain sugar in their stems (sugarcane, sugar maple), roots (sugar beet), or flowers (gomutiand wine palms). Oil crops—plants in whose seeds and fruits vegetable oils accumulate—include the sunflower, peanut, soybean, castor-oil plant, rape, sesame, mustard, oil flax, coconut palm, African oil palm, olive, and tung. In essential-oil crops, essential oils accumulate in the aboveground shoots (mint, geranium, East Indian basil), flowers (essential-oil rose, lavender, tuberose, lilac), fruits (coriander, anise, fennel), or roots and rootstocks (vetiver, iris). Textile crops, including bast crops, contain textile fibers in their stems (common flax, jute, ambary, hemp), leaves (New Zealand flax), seeds (cotton), or fruits (ceiba).
Other important groups of industrial crops include those that yield rubber (hevea, guayule), gutta-percha (spindle tree, Eucommia, Palaquium, Payena), tannins (smoke tree, Siberian tea, some species of oak, spruce, larch), dyes (madder, woad, Japanese pagoda tree, saffron, safflower, some species of Indigofera), medicinal substances (valerian, foxglove, belladonna, cinchona, ginseng), narcotics (tobacco, Indian tobacco, jute, opium poppy), and cork (cork tree, cork oak). Other important industrial crops are hops and teasel.
Some industrial crops have double uses. For example, common flax, hemp, and cotton yield both fiber and fatty oil. Madder and opium poppy have medicinal uses, and coriander, caraway, and anise yield both essential and fatty oils.
Industrial crops include both annuals (flax, potatoes, sunflower, caraway) and perennials (olive, essential-oil rose, hevea, hops, ginseng). They belong to many botanical families, including Solanaceae (potatoes, tobacco), Compositae (sunflower, safflower), Cruciferae (rape, mustard), and Rosaceae (essential-oil rose). Industrial crops grow in various geographic zones: for example, palms, olives, tung trees, and sugarcane are found in tropical and subtropical regions, and sunflowers, flax, and sugar beets are raised principally in middle and temperate latitudes.
Industrial crops grown in the USSR include potatoes, sunflowers, sugar beets, cotton, flax, hemp, tobacco, Indian tobacco, and medicinal plants. They occupied 11.8 million hectares (ha) in 1940,15.3 million ha in 1965, 14.5 million ha in 1970, and 14.7 million ha in 1974.