Castor Farming: A commercial crop with higher returns than any other oilseed
Castor oil may be inedible but its industrial and commercial demand is unmatched.
India is the world’s largest producer and exporter of castor and its oil. Its global demand and domestic consumption are also increasing continuously. Castor farming is profitable for farmers because it is a commercial non-edible oilseed crop.
It is quickly sold, and its cultivation earns about one and a half times more than the cost. This ratio of profit is better than any other edible oilseed crop. It is also beneficial to intercrop castor with several Kharif and Rabi crops to get higher returns with less risk. Castor farming remains profitable even in the single cropping system.
The hot and humid climate of dry and rainfed areas is very favorable for castor farming. Indian agriculture is full of places with such a climate. That’s why the share of castor cultivation in the country’s total area of oilseed crops is about 70 percent. Castor oil obtained from castor seeds is an important industrial and commercial product. It is in high demand in surface coating, telecom, engineering plastics, pharma, rubber, chemicals, nylon, soaps, hydraulic fluids, paints, and polymers.
Castor cake is used as an organic fertilizer. Gujarat is the largest castor-producing state in the country. Gujarat accounts for more than 80 percent of the total production of castor in the country. It is also cultivated extensively in Rajasthan and Andhra Pradesh. According to the experts of Chaudhary Charan Singh Haryana Agricultural University, Hisar, castor cultivation in dry and rainfed areas like Sirsa, Bhiwani, Hisar, Fatehabad, Mahendergarh, Rewari, and Gurgaon bordering Rajasthan and under irrigated and irrigated areas of Haryana gives good returns. There are strong possibilities of getting it.
India accounts for more than 87 percent of the global production of castor oil. It is cultivated in 870 thousand hectares of the country. Indian castor varieties have an oil content of up to 48 percent in the seeds. Its average yield is 17.86 quintals per hectare. While the yield of castor is 15-30 quintals per hectare in rainfed areas, 30-40 quintals per hectare are available in irrigated fields. In dry and rainfed regions, castor cultivation can be very profitable if the farmer has access to one or two means of irrigation.
Intercropping is successful and profitable for the initial 4-5 months by increasing the distance between castor rows to 5 to 8 feet. That is why inter-crop cultivation of moong, guar, groundnut, sesame, cotton, pigeon pea, moth, tomato, chilli, early fenugreek, coriander, radish, carrot, etc. with castor is prevalent in many states. But agricultural experts in a study conducted in 2018-19 found that castor cultivation alone can earn farmers more profit than traditional crops on an annual basis. Cultivation of castor with intercrops increases the profit.
|Cost and return of intercropping with castor in the annual crop cycle
|Cotton + Mustard
|Guar + Mustard
|Cotton + Wheat
|Guar + Wheat
|Cotton + Barley
|Bajra + Wheat
|Bajra + Mustard
|Guar + Barley
|Bajra + Barley
|Figures based on a survey for 2018-19
How to do advanced castor farming?
Sowing time: The best season for sowing castor is from late June to mid-July. The sowing must be completed by the end of July because, in the sowing done after this, the production decreases due to the outbreak of frost in the winter season. By the way, apart from timely sowing, the prevention of weeds is very useful to prevent frost. In a land with high and low dunes, take crops on dunes, give the full amount of potash, and do not let water shortage from the second fortnight of December to the end of January.
Castor Seed Improved Varieties: DCH-177 variety has been found very suitable for rainfed and less irrigated areas. This variety of castor is less affected by white flies and frost. GCH-7, DCH-177, and DCH-519 are recommended for irrigated areas.
Seed quantity and method of sowing: For rainfed and less irrigated areas, sow at a distance of 90 to 120 cm x 60 cm. Use 3 to 4 kg of seed per acre. For sowing in irrigated fields, keep a distance of 150 cm x 90 cm and use 1.6 kg seed per acre. The seeds should be sown at a depth of 2 to 3 inches from the soil surface.
Seed treatment: To prevent seed-borne diseases, treatment with Thiram or Capton at the rate of 3 gm per kg seed or Bavistin at the rate of 2 gm per kg seed is beneficial. Soaking the seeds in water for 12 to 24 hours before sowing is also beneficial as they germinate quickly and well.
Use of fertilizers in Castor Cultivation
Rainfed or Rainfed Crops: Apply 8 kg Nitrogen and 16 kg Phosphorus per acre before sowing. Use 8-8 kg quantity of Nitrogen according to rainfall 35 to 40 and 65 to 70 days after sowing.
Irrigated Crops: At the time of sowing, apply 10 to 12 kg of Potash, 10 kg of Zinc Sulphate, and 100 kg of Gypsum per acre in the field. After sowing, apply 8 kg Nitrogen and 16 kg Phosphorus per acre at the time of sowing and Nitrogen @ 8 kg 35 to 40 and 70 to 80 days after sowing.
Do not give more nitrogen to the castor crop in the beginning as it increases the growth of weeds apart from the plants. But to get more yield, when harvesting castor’s ripe bunches, 8 kg of nitrogen should be given along with irrigation.
Weeding: Two weeding in the fourth and seventh week of sowing control the weeds in the castor crop. Like cotton, castor can also be weeded by tractor, oxen, or camel.
Chemical: Weed control is also achieved by spraying 800 ml pendimethalin per acre after sowing but before crop growth. After 35-40 days of sowing, the grown weeds should be removed by hand.
Castor Crop Irrigation
Initially, castor does not require much water but in dry conditions, irrigation is required after 20-25 days for good growth. Irrigation increases the chances of better castor yield. According to the availability of water and water holding capacity of the soil in castor cultivation, from 3 to 4 irrigations to 7 to 8 irrigations may have to be given. That’s why after 50-60 and 80-95 days after sowing if there is a lack of moisture in the field, do irrigation.
Castor Bean Harvesting
The first bunch of castor crops get ready for harvesting after 90 to 120 days of sowing. The bunches should be harvested at an interval of 15 to 20 days in summer and at an interval of 25 to 30 days in winter. The color of the fruit (capsule) in castor bunches turns yellow and about one-fourth of the fruit ripens and dries, only then the bunch should be cut and put to dry. At an interval of about 25 to 30 days, bunches of different orders will continue to ripen. Hence 4-6 cuttings may have to be done. In irrigated conditions, the last harvesting is done by the end of April or the first week of May.
Threshing: After the bunches are dried in the threshing floor, separate the fruits (capsules) from the stalks by threshing and remove the grains or seeds from the thrasher. Do not let the seeds break. After this send it to the market for sale.
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