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ARS Home » Plains Area » El Reno, Oklahoma » Oklahoma and Central Plains Agricultural Research Center » Livestock, Forage and Pasture Management Research Unit » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #404299

Research Project: Integrated Agroecosystem Research to Enhance Forage and Food Production in the Southern Great Plains

Location: Livestock, Forage and Pasture Management Research Unit

Title: A site suitability analysis for castor (Ricinus communis L.) production during Brazil’s second harvest incorporating disease prediction

item Witt, Travis
item Flynn, Kyle
item ZOZ, TIAGO - State University Of Mato Grosso Do Sul
item MONTEIRO, JOSE E.B.A. - Embrapa

Submitted to: Heliyon
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 8/3/2023
Publication Date: 8/6/2023
Citation: Witt, T.W., Flynn, K.C., Zoz, T., Monteiro, J. 2023. A site suitability analysis for castor (Ricinus communis L.) production during Brazil’s second harvest incorporating disease prediction. Heliyon. 9(8). Article e18981.

Interpretive Summary: Castor is an important industrial crop with many applications, which makes the oil highly valuable. The hardiness of castor makes it a viable crop for low rainfall areas. This study used geospatial technology to predict areas that could produce high castor oil yields with low incidences of disease.

Technical Abstract: Castor (Ricinus communis L.) is an important industrial crop with a wide range of industrial and pharmaceutical applications. Brazil is among the largest castor-producing countries. Between 2004 and 2010, castor cultivation was stimulated with an emphasis towards biodiesel production. However, this was not enough to leverage the production of castor in Brazil, mainly due to the lack of structured trade and the competition with other cheaper raw materials for the production of biodiesel. Despite this failure, the species presents itself as an excellent alternative for crop rotation in the second crop among soybean, corn, beans, and cotton cultivation areas as the oil is highly valuable for other products. Moreover, it has drawn the attention of producers and researchers in Brazil for this potential rotation as it is considered a water-deficiency tolerant plant and is highly susceptible to gray mold, a disease favored by high humidity in the final stages of the crop. For instance, its cultivation in the second crop in Cerrado regions, where rains occur in the early stages of the crop and cease when the plants reach the final stage of production, has been successful and shows great promise. The current study aimed to evaluate the suitability of environments throughout Brazil to grow castor, incorporating variables associated with the incidence of gray mold and confirm these findings based on existing castor trial data obtained from the literature. The site suitability analysis determined that 74.99 million hectares - 8.8% of Brazilian territory - are highly suitable for castor production during second harvest, mostly located in the Northeastern and Midwestern regions. These results are surprising since Brazil currently has around 7.8% (~66.81 million hectares) of its territory occupied with agriculture (grains, fruits, vegetables, and perennial crops). The findings of this study provide a method to perform site suitability for crops using data associated with agronomic and disease characteristics, as is the case with gray mold that often results in significant losses in castor production. Also, this analysis provides evidence for the great potential of Brazil to increase castor production and meet the world demand for its oil through utilization of second-crop cultivation.