Jatropha adapts to a wide range of climates and soils. It can grow almost on any type of soil whether gravely, sandy or saline and thrives even on the poorest stony soils and rock crevices. It is a drought resistant perennial plant living up to 50 years.
The tree grows up to a height of 3 meters; so, harvesting is an easy task. A hybrid variety of Jatropha could give three harvests a year, compared to two harvests by other varieties. It takes two years for a Jatropha sapling to begin producing seeds and they can produce seeds for up to 40 years. The seeds are crushed to extract raw oil; Jatropha seeds contain generally about 35% of non-edible oil.
MORE INFO! Jatropha Curcas grows best on well drained soils with good aeration but is well adapted to marginal soils with low nutrient content.
Jatropha Curcas grows well with more than 600mm rainfall per year and it can withstand long periods of drought. The plant sheds its leaves during a prolonged dry season.
Jatropha Curcas prefers temperatures averaging 20-28 degrees Celsius (68-85 degrees Farenheit). It can, however, withstand a very light frost which causes it to lose all its leaves and may produce a sharp decline in seed yield.
MORE GROWING TIPS! Jatropha curcas grows almost anywhere, even on gravelly, sandy and saline soils. It can thrive on the poorest stony soil. It can grow even in the crevices of rocks. The leaves shed during the winter months form mulch around the base of the plant. The organic matter from shed leaves enhance earth-worm activity in the soil around the root-zone of the plants, which improves the fertility of the soil. Climatically, Jatropha curcas is found in the tropics and subtropics and likes heat, although it does well even in lower temperatures and can withstand a light frost. Its water requirement is extremely low and it can stand long periods of drought by shedding most of its leaves to reduce transpiration loss. Jatropha curcas is also suitable for preventing soil erosion and shifting of sand dunes.
NOTE! One tonne of Jatropha Curcas seeds will produce up to 600 litres of bio-diesel with proper management.
Jatropha Curcas grows readily from seeds or cuttings. However trees propagated from cuttings have a shorter productive lifespan and lower drought/disease resistance than plants propagated from seed.
Also, Jatropha Curcas trees produced from cuttings do not produce true taproots. Instead, they produce pseudo-taproots (surface roots) that may penetrate much less than half the depth of soil as taproots produced on trees grown from seed.