Store Jatropha seeds right to maintain high germination

Farmers and businessmen in the Philippines have scrambled planting the Physic Nut (Jatropha curcas), a biofuel crop seen having big potential returns once the mandatory use of biodiesel is fully implemented in the country.

However, some of those who have gone full steam ahead establishing farms are now beset with problems, one of which is seed storage.

In a report by UPLB crop scientists Lucille Elna Parreño-de Guzman and Annalisa L. Aquino of the Crop Science Cluster – College of Agriculture, optimum storage should be given to Jatropha seeds because of the country’s high temperature and relative humidity. Otherwise, seeds kept in normal room conditions will easily rot because of its high oil content.

Although information exists on how well Jatropha thrives in marginal areas, almost none is known on its seed’s storage behavior under Philippine conditions. Thus, the researchers conducted a study to characterize the seed of Jatropha and determine its storage behavior.

Based on experiments, they reported that storage temperature did not affect the germination of Jatropha seeds. However, germination was influenced by moisture content and storage time.
Thus, those planning to venture into Jatropha production should take note— proper storage of good quality Jatropha seeds result to better germination ideal for planting.

De Guzman and Aquino recommended that Jatropha seeds should be dried to 4-5% moisture content and sealed in moisture-proof containers, to ensure little reduction in percent germination.

For those who cannot invest in special containers such as aluminum foil packs, they can just store seeds in ambient conditions and simple containers such as bottles or biscuit tin cans with the covers sealed with wax or candle. It is important that the seeds should be dried first to 6-8% and stored immediately after harvest.

The researchers reported in their experiment that under normal room conditions, seeds packed inside net bags or sacks would lead to a 20% decrease in germination rate if storage is delayed. The delay would also reduce germination further by 25% after 6 months of storage.

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