Get to Know the Latest in the Castor Industry at ICOA 2014

The 2014 International Castor Oil Association General Meeting will be held on May 20-22 2014 at the Vienna Marriott in  Vienna. Network with global leaders in the castor trade and find out the latest trends in the castor industry at ICOA 2014.

Book early as there is limited availability at our special rate of €199. Reservations can be made for the special rate by clicking the following link:

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Evaluation of Productivity and Profitability of Castor-based Intercropping Systems

A field experiment was conducted to have a comprehensive understanding of various approaches to draw inferences from intercropping of castor with different crops on sandy clay loam soil at the National Academy of Agricultural Research Management (NAARM), Hyderabad during rainy seasons of 2007 and 2008. The experiment was laid out in a randomized block design with 14 treatments each replicated thrice. The intercrops tested were sorghum, pearl millet, green gram, black gram, soybean and sunflower. The univariate analysis of variance showed that the intercropping of 2 rows of black gram in castor spaced uniformly at 90 cm or 3 rows in between paired rows of castor spaced at 120/60 cm yielded bonus yield of the pulse with no significant loss in yield of castor compared to the sole crop. The bivariate analysis of variance confirmed that this was the most productive intercropping system in both low and high rainfall seasons. The land equivalent ratios (LERs) showed that 24 to 61% additional total productivity was obtained by intercropping black gram, soybean or green gram. Such an advantage also occurred to the extent of 29 to 39% in terms of better land and time use efficiency (area time equivalent ratio). The other approaches like competition ratio, land equivalent coefficient and crop performance ratio also confirmed the higher productive efficiency of these intercropping systems. The monetary advantage assessed through conventional approaches like gross and net returns as well as through the advanced and refined technique of relative net returns (RNR) established that the profit was also significantly increased by this expedient of companion cropping with black gram.


Effect of Different Soil Types on Mycorrhizal Colonization of Castor Plant

This study evaluated the mycorrhizal colonization of four cultivars of castor bean in five different agricultural soil types collected from different locations of Mahabubnagar District, India. Among four cultivars of Castor, Kranthi is the best supporting one in clay type of soil, which is the most widely, used cultivar in Mahabubnagar. Its mycorrhizal colonization was found to be the maximum in comparison with other cultivars in different soil types which are most effective in increasing the height, dry weight and yield of plant.

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Safety Assessment Report of the Products from Castor Oil

This post presents a few excerpts from the final report on the safety assessment of castor seed oil and its derivatives.

  1. Castor oil is classified by Food and Drug Administration (FDA) as generally recognized as safe and effective for use as a stimulant laxative
  2. Although chemically similar to prostaglandin E(1), Ricinoleic Acid did not have the same physiological properties. These ingredients are not acute toxicants, and a National Toxicology Program (NTP) subchronic oral toxicity study using castor oil at concentrations up to 10% in the diet of rats was not toxic. Other subchronic studies of castor oil produced similar findings
  3. Neither castor oil nor Sodium Ricinoleate was genotoxic in bacterial or mammalian test systems. Ricinoleic Acid produced no neoplasms or hyperplasia in one mouse study and was not a tumor promoter in another mouse study, but did produce epidermal hyperplasia.
  4. Clinically, castor oil has been used to stimulate labor. Castor oil is not a significant skin irritant, sensitizer, or photosensitizer in human clinical tests, but patients with occupational dermatoses may have a positive reaction to castor oil or Ricinoleic Acid

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Texas Researchers Working On Ricin Reduced Castor Seeds

In 1959, Texas state of US was the country’s leading producer of castor with most of the production centered. However, in the 1970s, castor disappeared from Texas fields with the arrival of low prices and more lucrative crop alternatives. All of the castor used in the United States today is imported from India and a few other countries, but there is a move afoot to possibly revitalize the old crop for a rapidly changing world and agriculture’s role in it.

Dr. Calvin Trostle with Texas AgriLife Extension in Lubbock is part of a team working with castor within the confined and controlled quarters of test plots. He believes that with proper precautions, castor could again be a valuable crop for Texas farmers in part of the state but not all of it. The focus in the current Texas AgriLife program is the southwest quarter of Texas, probably south of I-20 and west of San Angelo.

Texas Tech University researchers have also bred a variety of castor called Brigham, which has reduced the ricin levels of traditional castor lines by 78 to 85 percent. They believe that with the proper funding and a few years of work they can get the levels down to the mid or low single digits by “turning off” the gene that produces the ricin protein.

“It is Texas AgriLife and Texas Tech’s goal that if castor is reintroduced in Texas that the production be highly self-regulated, which would include only distributing, growing, and buying of reduced-ricin castor, and that contractors would work with only this line or others that succeed it,” Trostle said. Currently, Texas AgriLife is developing in-house guidelines on how to handle castor at its research stations and agreements that would be made if the seed were to be transferred to a third party.


India: NK Proteins Conflict of Interest Issues Being Looked At

In India, the ministry of consumer affairs is looking into the alleged conflict of interest issues and claims of huge castor seed and cottonseed oil stocks, in NK Proteins, a key debtor of beleaguered National Spot Exchange Ltd (NSEL).

NK Proteins, run by relatives of NSEL chairman , owes the exchange around Rs 930 crore. According to the latest stock position filed by the exchange on August 6, the company had 7,553 tonnes of castor oil, 96,581 tonnes of castor seed and 84,766 tonnes of cotton wash oil.

The ministry has received complaints from people who claimed to have visited the facilities of the company. They say the storage capacity of NK Proteins, which makes the Tirupati brand of cooking oils, “is far less than what is claimed.

NK Proteins is one of the 13 processors which have sought 20 weeks’ time to settle the dues with NSEL. Last week, NSEL said that here are 13 members/ processors, who have offered to pay five per cent of their total dues every week, if the same is agreed upon. Total amount comes to Rs 3,107 crore approximately.”

NK Proteins’ dues amounted to 25 per cent of this lot and 16 percent of the overall due of Rs 5,500 crore.

“The complaint also raised the issue of whether indeed there was stock and why do the processors need five months. The commodities can be easily sold within a month. In the worst case scenario, they would face a loss in price difference only was the argument put out by complainants,” the ministry officials said.

It would be extremely naïve on NSEL’s part to have had the confidence of storing such a huge quantity of stock within the premises of NK Proteins, the complainants are said to have suggested.

“Anyone who has visited the factory will laugh on hearing that there is a stock of 84,766 tonnes of cottonseed oil in there. This is because the total storage capacity of this factory is just 5,000 tonnes, let alone two tanks which NSEL claims to be storing this stock,” one of the complaints said.

According to the NSEL stock position dated August 6, the cotton oil stock, which is worth Rs 530.63 crore, was stored in two tanks in an NK Proteins facility in Thor in Mehasana district of Gujarat. NK Proteins officials were not available for comment.


Castor Oil Research, Production and Challenges – A Review

In this article, castor historical research information is compiled and  the tremendous future potential of the plant is studied.Topics discussed in this review include: (i) germplasm, genetics, breeding, biotic stresses, genomesequencing, and biotechnology; (ii) agronomic production practices, diseases, and abiotic stresses; (iii) management and reduction of toxins for the use of castor meal as both an animal feed and an organic fertilizer; (iv) future industrial uses of castor including renewable fuels; (v) world production, consumption, and prices; and (vi) potential and challenges for increased castor production.

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Castor Bean Genome Sequence

This post discusses about a castor bean genome research published in 2010 by the J. Craig Venter Institute (JCVI) and the Institute for Genome Sciences (IGS), University of Maryland School of Medicine.

Because of the potential use of castor bean as a biofuel and its production of the potent toxin ricin, the team focused efforts on genes related to oil and ricin production. They analyzed important metabolic pathways and regulatory genes involved in the production and storage of oils in the castor bean.The analyses could be important for comparative studies with other oilseed crops, and could also allow for genetic engineering of castor bean to produce oil without ricin.

Researchers sequenced and assembled a 4X draft of the ~400 Mbp castor bean genome using a whole genome shotgun strategy. In addition, ~50,000 ESTs from different tissues have been produced to help gene discovery and annotation. The results of their work showed that the castor genome is 350 Mb and has an estimated 31,237 genes. The team also discovered that the ricin gene family was larger than previously thought, and they revealed approximately 28 genes in the ricin producing family.

Preliminary comparisons between castor bean genes and ESTs from other available Euphorbiaceae species, showed that cassava shares the highest sequence similarity with castor bean.

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Castor oil During Term Pregnancy

Derived from the castor plant Ricinus communis, castor oil may possess properties that are useful in post-term pregnancies Research studies reveal that castor oil was considered successful if labor began within 24 hours after dosing. Women who receive castor oil have an increased likelihood of initiation of labor within 24 hours compared to women who receive no treatment. Castor oil use in pregnancy is underreported worldwide. Read More:

Demand for Castor Oil Exemption from CTT

Solvent Extractors Association of India (SEA) had demanded that castor oil along with other oil seeds included in the list of commodities exempted from the commodities transaction tax. However, the government has notified that commodities transaction tax (CTT) of 0.01% to be levied on all derivative contracts of non-agricultural commodities w.e.f 1st July, 2013. 23 specified agri-commodities have been exempted from CTT including cotton seed oil cake, copra, rape/mustard seed, soyabean and soya meal.