Climate Information for Castor Farming.
The crop requires more than average temperature for its growth. The range stays between 20°C to 40°C. However, excessive heat resulting in temperature over 40°C is harmful to the crop and impacts the crop yield. Castor requires a lot of dry climate with an annual rainfall of 500-800 mm. Of which, 500-600 mm is required in the first three months of the growth stage.
Castor is a crop typically of the tropical and subtropical drylands. It requires a fairly hot and dry climate for its optimum growth. This can be achieved within the altitude limit ranging from mean sea level to 1000 metres. It is an ideal crop for the marginal dry zones of India where it can be grown in both rain-fed and mildly irrigated conditions. The crop is sensitive to high humidity and thus dryness should be ensured for the good yield of oil.
Suitable Soil for Castor Farming.
Castor is cultivated in those soils which are highly unfertile nature and thus are unfit for any other types of commercial farming. Soils with very minimum fertility and low annual rainfall are also capable of providing good yields. Since the roots of the plants grow very deep, the soil should be deep and well-drained since high moisture content and water stagnation is very harmful to the castor plants. However, sandy loam soils with very good drainage and moderate fertility are ideal for the plant. The range of pH may vary from 5.0 to 8.5 but the optimum condition would prevail at around the pH value of 6.0 for best results.
Recommended sowing times for Castor Farming.
Since it is not a hardcore food crop, it has no particular season of sowing. However, in India, just before the time when the south-west monsoon winds prevail (June to September months of the Kharif season of crops) would be the ideal time since it would help in the germination of the seeds.
Land preparation for Castor Farming.
An important task required for castor farming is proper land preparation. At least 3 to 4 thorough ploughings is necessary for the fine tilth of the soil. Multiple deep ploughings also ensure deep and loose soils which can be easily pulverized by the growing roots since castor roots grow very deep. The remaining soil clods after these ploughings should be crushed manually by country ploughs or other instruments since it favors seed germination.
Sowing Method and tips for Castor farming.
Propagation in castor plants is done entirely through seeds. After collection of the seeds from matured plants, the best ones with vigour are chosen for successful propagation.
Irrigation methods for Castor farming.
Castor is essentially a rain-fed crop and thus does not require any added irrigation. However, in extremely dry areas and in special cases of drought, water should be provided twice. The frequency of irrigation would be altered depending on soil type, climate and crop stage.
Fertilizer Requirements for Castor farming.
12 to 13 tonnes of good quality and well-rotted farmyard manure (FYM) or vermicomposting should be spread per hectares of the land. Then, the manure should be properly mixed with the soil by means of tillage practices before sowing. During the time of final plough, 25 kilograms of Sulphur should be used per hectare of the land by means of gypsum for higher castor yield. After cultivation, during the times of appropriate soil moisture, the dosages of fertilizers should be –
· Nitrogen at the rate of 40 kg per hectare
· Phosphorus at the rate of 40 kg per hectare
· Potassium at the rate of 20 kg per hectare
Seeds Requirements for Castor Farming.
The seed rate of castor is fairly high and an amount of 10-12 kg is enough to cover a land of 1 hectare. However, the seed rate entirely depends on the variety and the method of sowing.
Seed Treatment for Castor Farming.
For preventing diseases like root rot and Alternaria blight, seeds should be treated with carbendazim at the rate of 2 grams per kg. Also, soaking the seeds in water for 18 to 20 hours is advised before sowing for better germination. In some cases, soaking the seeds with 1% KCl solution is required.
Best Seed Varieties for Castor seed Farming.
The varieties of castor differ essentially in branching habits, the color of the stem and branches, nature of capsules, size of seeds and content of oil in the seeds. Some high yielding varieties of India include TMVCH, TMV 5, TMV 6, YRCH 1, CO 1, NPH-1 and GAUCH-4.
Best Practices for Castor Seed Farming.
Weed control or intercultural operations – For castor plants, 2 weedings at an interval of one month are necessary for controlling unwanted weeds since the weeds affect the overall yield of the plants. After every harvest, weeding should be carried out to prepare the field for the upcoming batch. Chemical weedicides like Pendimethalin or Fluchloralin can also be used in proper limits for better results.
Harvesting – Crop becomes ready for harvesting in about 140 to 175 days after planting. The crop should be harvested when one or two capsules in the bunch show the signs of drying. The harvesting should be scheduled particularly on sunny days for good oil content and yield. After removal of a whole bunch of capsules, they should be stacked in a dry place and then dried in the sun for a couple of days. The dried capsules can then be threshed and winnowed and then the extracted oil, as well as the husks, are ready for transportation.