Castor bean farming is done in dry regions under irrigation or through rainfall. It is propagated through seeds in soils that are not fertile and in an area with less rainfall. The soil should be moderately fertile and slightly acidic with a pH 5.0-6.0.
It is very sensitive to high humidity. Castor is an annual/perennial crop sown between July-August in a semi arid and arid region. But it is mainly grown as annual crop. While harvest is between December to January. India is the largest producers of castor oil and seeds.
Castor farming is done mainly for the seed and oil, it belongs to the family Euphorbiaceae.
Castor seeds contain about 45-60% of oil that is rich in triglycerides. The Seeds are valued mainly for their oil, which is used in pharmaceutical Industries for the production of pain killers. Ground seed cakes are used as fertilizers. Castor oil farming is as good as moringa farming.
Castor Bean Farming In Nigeria
Nigeria has been found to have the best land for the cultivation of castor bean seed but we are yet to take advantage of this golden opportunty. The world consumption of castor oil is very high. Nigeria is still importing about #26 billion worth of castor oil yearly as at 2017.
Most of the money made from castor bean farming is from castor oil. Castor plant can last for 7 years. And harvest is done twice a year. One ton can be gotten from a hectare in one harvest. This means in a year you will have 2 tons. The current price of castor per ton cost $1,500 dollars.
The seeds for planting should be hybrid, Nigeria does not have good seed. You need seeds that will give plenty oil when processed.
Any small oil processing machine can extract a large volume of castor oil.
Castor Bean Varieties
These are some of the hybrid varieties that can be cultivated for commercial purpose.
- KC1, KC2, KC3 and KC4
- Castor has many varieties but the differ in
- branching ability of the plant
- Colour of stem and branches, either green or red
- The appearance of capsules either shiny or smooth
- Duration, late or early production
- Size of the seed
Ecological requirements in Castor Bean Farming
- Rainfall: 500-600 annually
- Altitude: 0-1800m above sea level
- Soil should be Deep well drained sandy loams with PH ranging from 5.0-6.5.
Clear and Plough the land remove weeds, stumps and trees. Heap the debris for manure. Tilt the soil to make it aerable for air and water to penetrate the soil.
Select a viable healthy seeds from a vigorous parent plants in a depth of 6-8cm at 1m spacing in rows and 50cm within rows. Insert 2-3 seeds in each hole and later thin them to one.10kg of seeds are needed for a hectare. add 125kg of DAP per hectare-basal application.
The new way of farming is going complete organic, you can use animal dung or compost but were you cannot provide this then use top dressing- Apply 20kg of CAN per hectare at the beginning and the same dose in other subsequent applications.
Irrigation in Castor Bean Farming
If you have steady rain during rainfall then there won’t be need for irrigation but where there is shortage of rain or during dry season then you have to irrigate. You have to provide water until 2-4 weeks before harvest.
You can weed your castor farm manually or by the use of herbicides, use a suitable pre emergence herbicide, 1.25kg a hectare. Mulching will also help in reducing weeds emergence.
Pest and Disease Control in Castor Bean Farming
Bug and hoppers are some of the pests found in castor bean farming. Use good seeds example hybrid specie. Maintain good farm hygiene, use pesticides.
Some of the diseases disturbing castor plants are; leaf spot and Rust. Good crop management and crop rotation.
Castor matures 5-6 months that is between 142 -191 days. Harvest is done during dry season, don’t harvest everything at the same time use intervals of 15-30 days to meet up with drying and to prevent shattering.
Average yield is about 3000kg per hectare.
Uses of Castor
- For manufacturing; dye, hydraulic fluids, aircraft lubricants and explosives, transparent paper, varnishes, printing inks, plasticizers and linoleum
- Cosmetology use it in making soap, cosmetics
- Castor cake is used for feeding livestock and fertilizer for farming.
- For paper pulp preparation
- Their leaves are used in feeding silkworms
- For medicine
- Lightening purposes
Other uses of Castor Oil
- It slows down aging as an anti-aging agent
- Used as cream moisturizer
- Accelerate hair growth.
- Treatment for scalp infection
- Fades blemishes
- Skin inflammation healing
- Terminate acne
- Surpresses premature graying of the hair
- Boosts immunity
- Fights arthritis
- Treat scalp infection such as ring worm
Buyers are out there searching for castor bean seeds to buy. Before starting your castor oil farming first of locate castor seed buyers in Nigeria, so that you will know were to take them to after harvest. Also find out buyers of cast of castor oil in Nigeria.
This is the more reason you should write castor farming business plan.
The seeds contain ricin which is poisonous but the toxin is not soluble in oil, when the seeds are pressed the ricin doesn’t follow. Castor oil extraction can be best done through cold pressed.