Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:


Study Shows Promise for Castor Crop Planting in Florida

Castor, grown in Florida during World War II and currently considered as a component for military jet fuel, can be grown here again, using proper management techniques, a new University of Florida study shows.

Those techniques include spacing plants properly and using harvest aids to defoliate the plant when it matures.

Growers in the U.S. want to mechanically harvest castor, which is typically hand-picked in other parts of the world, the researchers said. Among other things, the UF/IFAS study evaluated whether the plant would grow too tall for mechanical harvesting machines.

Castor oil is used in paints, lubricants and deodorants, among other industrial products, said David Campbell, a former UF agronomy graduate student and lead author of the study. It has not been grown in the U.S. since 1972, because the federal government ceased giving price supports, the study says.

At UF research units in Citra and Jay, scientists tested Brigham and Hale, two types of castor that were bred in an arid part of west Texas near Lubbock in 1970 and 2003, respectively. These cultivars are shorter than castor found in the wild, said Diane Rowland, an associate professor of agronomy at UFfs Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences, and Campbellfs faculty adviser.

Scientists tried to control the growth of the plants even more by spraying them with a chemical, she said. Even though the crop didnft respond to the chemicals, it did not grow taller than expected. So it appears these types of castor can be harvested mechanically, she said.

While yields were lower than those reported in Texas research trials in 1993, results are promising for Florida.

"We were concerned that, in this environment, with all the moisture and the good growing conditions, that it would grow too tall. But it didn't," Rowland said. "So it shows that shorter genetic types will still work, without the chemical application. That way, you may save money by reducing crop inputs. If it's too tall - if it's higher than a corn stalk - it won't go through the harvesting machinery."

The study came about after a few growers in South Florida who wanted to plant castor asked IFAS administrators for technical advice, Rowland said.

Campbell conducted the research as part of his masterfs thesis, and the study is published in the February edition of the journal Industrial Crops and Products.

Since 1972, the U.S. has been forced to turn to producers in India, China and Brazil to supply the majority of its needs with India producing about 90 percent of the worldfs castor oil.

The toxin ricin comes from castor, but Rowland said UF researchers used a reduced-ricin cultivar as one of the types tested. Texas scientists are developing ricin-free cultivars, she said. In the near future, any industry that uses domestically grown commercial castor would likely be using ricin-free castor, Rowland said. And she noted that ricin can be broken down during the oil extraction and refining process if it involves high temperatures.

Despite the promise of historically high castor yields in the southwestern U.S., recent droughts have prompted growers to look elsewhere for land on which to grow the crop if a commercial castor industry is revived. The plant already grows along many of Floridafs highways. The UF researchers set out to see if castor can be cultivated and harvested on farms.

Because of its many uses, the economic growth potential of castor is immense, the study said.

Growers also still need to develop and start using a machine to crush the oil from the castor plant to make it a viable crop, Rowland said. She said some Florida growers are in the process of doing just that.

Brad Buck | Newswise
Further information:

More articles from Agricultural and Forestry Science:

nachricht Covering the bases with cover crops
01.10.2015 | American Society of Agronomy

nachricht Innovative seeding machine to speed up kenaf planting
23.09.2015 | Universiti Putra Malaysia (UPM)

All articles from Agricultural and Forestry Science >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Kick-off for a new era of precision astronomy

The MICADO camera, a first light instrument for the European Extremely Large Telescope (E-ELT), has entered a new phase in the project: by agreeing to a Memorandum of Understanding, the partners in Germany, France, the Netherlands, Austria, and Italy, have all confirmed their participation. Following this milestone, the project's transition into its preliminary design phase was approved at a kick-off meeting held in Vienna. Two weeks earlier, on September 18, the consortium and the European Southern Observatory (ESO), which is building the telescope, have signed the corresponding collaboration agreement.

As the first dedicated camera for the E-ELT, MICADO will equip the giant telescope with a capability for diffraction-limited imaging at near-infrared...

Im Focus: Locusts at the wheel: University of Graz investigates collision detector inspired by insect eyes

Self-driving cars will be on our streets in the foreseeable future. In Graz, research is currently dedicated to an innovative driver assistance system that takes over control if there is a danger of collision. It was nature that inspired Dr Manfred Hartbauer from the Institute of Zoology at the University of Graz: in dangerous traffic situations, migratory locusts react around ten times faster than humans. Working together with an interdisciplinary team, Hartbauer is investigating an affordable collision detector that is equipped with artificial locust eyes and can recognise potential crashes in time, during both day and night.

Inspired by insects

Im Focus: Physicists shrink particle accelerator

Prototype demonstrates feasibility of building terahertz accelerators

An interdisciplinary team of researchers has built the first prototype of a miniature particle accelerator that uses terahertz radiation instead of radio...

Im Focus: Simple detection of magnetic skyrmions

New physical effect: researchers discover a change of electrical resistance in magnetic whirls

At present, tiny magnetic whirls – so called skyrmions – are discussed as promising candidates for bits in future robust and compact data storage devices. At...

Im Focus: High-speed march through a layer of graphene

In cooperation with the Center for Nano-Optics of Georgia State University in Atlanta (USA), scientists of the Laboratory for Attosecond Physics of the Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics and the Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität have made simulations of the processes that happen when a layer of carbon atoms is irradiated with strong laser light.

Electrons hit by strong laser pulses change their location on ultrashort timescales, i.e. within a couple of attoseconds (1 as = 10 to the minus 18 sec). In...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>



Event News

EHFG 2015: Securing healthcare and sustainably strengthening healthcare systems

01.10.2015 | Event News

Conference in Brussels: Tracking and Tracing the Smallest Marine Life Forms

30.09.2015 | Event News

World Alzheimer`s Day – Professor Willnow: Clearer Insights into the Development of the Disease

17.09.2015 | Event News

Latest News

NASA provides an infrared look at Hurricane Joaquin over time

08.10.2015 | Earth Sciences

Theoretical computer science provides answers to data privacy problem

08.10.2015 | Information Technology

Stellar desk in wave-like motion

08.10.2015 | Physics and Astronomy

More VideoLinks >>>