Jatropha Curcas is an extremely adaptable and easy-to-grow perennial plant. It is so drought-tolerant that it can even be grown in desert environments, and it will tolerate poor soils, making it a great crop for areas that would not typically be valuable as farmland. The seeds are large like nuts and hold viability well. Trees mature in roughly 4-5 years, reaching up to about 15 feet in height. They will continue to grow and produce seed for about 50 years. They are helpful in preventing erosion. More importantly, though, the seeds are loaded with oil (about 30% or more). The oil is a purgative to humans, but is a highly valued source of high-quality biodiesel fuel. The oil from jatropha seeds can be extracted and used in standard diesel engines. As a fuel source, jatropha is four times more productive then soybeans. An acre of jatropha can produce up to 1000 gallons of oil per year. It is great to intercrop with plants like switch grass (also offered) and soy beans. The fact that this plant is so adaptable and contains such a high concentration of high-quality oil certainly ensures it to be an increasingly important crop for the future, particularly in a world where energy is a priority.
Growing information: Although soil fertility is not a requirement, good soil will produce more oil. Manure is a good source of fertilization, but it should be added after germination. Top soil or potting soil should both work for germination. Seeds will benefit from scarification prior to planting. Sow about 1″ deep. Jatropha likes heat but can withstand even a light frost. Full sun is recommended. It is easy to establish.
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