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 UFfs Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences, and Campbellfs 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 didnft 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 masterfs 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 worldfs 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 Floridafs 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
Early separation of cow and calf has long-term effects on social behaviour
28.04.2015 | Veterinärmedizinische Universität Wien
UNH researchers discover new method to detect most common bacteria contaminating oysters
23.04.2015 | University of New Hampshire
A team of highly determined high school students discovered a never-before-seen pulsar by painstakingly analyzing data from the National Science Foundation's...
Scientists from Nepal, Switzerland and Germany was now able to show how erosion processes caused by the monsoon are mirrored in the sediment load of a river crossing the Himalaya.
In these days, it was again tragically demonstrated that the Himalayas are one of the most active geodynamic regions of the world. Landslides belong to the...
A world-class prime systems integrator and electronic systems provider known for its rapid, innovative, and agile technology solutions, Sierra Nevada Corporation (SNC) is currently developing a new space transportation system called the Dream Chaser.
The ultimate aim is to construct a multi-mission-capable space utility vehicle, while accelerating the overall development process for this critical capability...
Today, textiles are used for more than just clothes or bags – they are high tech materials for high-tech applications. High-tech textiles must fulfill a number of functions and meet many requirements. That is why the Fraunhofer Institute for Silicate Research ISC dedicated some major developing work to this most intriguing research area. The result can now be seen at Techtextil trade show in Frankfurt from 4 to 7 May. On display will be novel textile-integrated sensors, a unique multifunctional coating system for textiles and fibers, and textile processing of glass, carbon, and ceramics fibers to fiber preforms.
Thin materials and new kinds of sensors now make it possible to integrate silicone elastomer sensors in textiles. They are suitable for applications in medical...
KAIST researchers published an article on the development of a novel technique to precisely track the 3-D positions of optically-trapped particles having complicated geometry in high speed in the April 2015 issue of Optica.
Daejeon, Republic of Korea, April 23, 2015--Optical tweezers have been used as an invaluable tool for exerting micro-scale force on microscopic particles and...
23.04.2015 | Event News
23.04.2015 | Event News
13.04.2015 | Event News
05.05.2015 | Physics and Astronomy
05.05.2015 | Information Technology
04.05.2015 | Life Sciences