Effect of Storage Environment on the Quality of the Physic Nut (Jatropha Curcas L.) Seed.

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An experiment was conducted at the Department of Horticulture, Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology, Kumasi, Ghana, between March and October 2007. The principal aim of the experiment was to evaluate the quality of Jatropha curcas seed and its seedling establishment in pot in the field. The seed were subjected to two storage conditions; the ambient room storage (24-35oC, 72-96% RH) and cold storage (10-15oC, 90% RH). Data collected on seed quality aspects were: number of seeds per fruit, seed kernel to shell ratio, thousand seed weight, germination percentage, seedling dry weight, fungi associated with the seed and seed oil content. Seedling growth parameters studied were: plant height, stem diameter, petiole length, internode length, number of leaves, and number of leaf buds, leaf area, canopy spread and number of branches. Seed oil content, fungi identification and seedling growth parameters were determined both at the beginning and at the end of the six months storage period. The results revealed that J. curcas pod contains three seeds (2.99 -3). It was observed that seeds from the Forest Zone were better in seed oil content (36%-53%), seed weight (701g), seed vigour index (5-7) and seedling performance than seed collected from the other two zones. Also, it was found out that cold storage conditions preserved the seeds of J. curcas better than room storage conditions but tended to promote fungi survival. The results further showed that seedlings of J. curcas could easily be raised irrespective of the zone of seed collection. Though seedlings parameters measured e.g. plant height (18-20cm vs 13– 16cm), petiole length (6-7cm vs 5-6cm) etc. after seed drying appear superior over those after seed storage in absolute terms, Jatropha curcas seedlings could easily be raised during both major and minor seasons. From the experiment, seeds of J. curcas are storable for at least six months without any appreciable loss of viability provided that the seeds moisture is reduced to 10% or below and placed in sealed moisture proof containers. For better oil conservation, the result suggests that Jatropha curcas seeds should be stored under ambient room conditions whereas germination is better preserved under cold store seed storage conditions.
A thesis submitted to the School of graduate studies, in partial fulfilment of the requirement for the MSc Seed Science and Technology Degree BY AKAI YIRKAARE CHRISTOPHER BSc (Hons) Agriculture Technology (Agronomy)