Illinois and Missouri farmers are trying out 10,000 acres of pennycress this year, a common weed that’s been bred into a high-value oilseed good for biofuels and high-protein meal.

Back in 2009, Win Phippen had this idea. If he could just raise a better pennycress, he might have another biofuel cash crop. So Phippen, a plant breeder at Western Illinois University, loaded up his wife and kids in the family minivan and hit the road.

“We’d just drive, and every 50 miles or so, I’d stop. We’d get off the interstate and weave up and down farmers’ fields, looking for a little pennycress,” he says. Around a telephone pole, near an old silo. Next to a field. Phippen, his wife, and their three young kids.  READ MORE