The results from marginal land plots in the Indian state of Tamil Nadu are a significant advancement compared to current jatropha plants that typically do not flower or fruit within the first year.
Dr Hong Yan, Chief Scientific Officer of JOil, said: “Our [JO S1 and JO S2 varieties] seedlings started flowering three months after planting and in five months yielded their first harvest of fruit.
Most current jatropha plants have no fruiting in the first year after planting and any first-year yields are negligible.
Dr Hong added: “We put the JO S1 and S2 seed into trials in multiple locations around the world for local climate adaptation and field performance evaluation.
“After 12 months, we achieved the first-year harvest on two plots of marginal land more than 200 km apart in Tamil Nadu, South India.
“Given that jatropha matures and reaches peak yield in three to four years, this shows that the JOil open pollinated varieties have the potential to reach mature yields of more than five tonnes of seeds per hectare at which point the production of jatropha seed reaches a level that allows it to be a sustainable feed stock for large-scale commercial production of bio diesel for airlines and motor transport fleet operations.”
In the recent trials, JOil obtained 2.4 tonnes of seeds per hectare at a plantation near the city of Coimbatore. The other trial in the city of Madurai produced 2.15 tons of seeds per hectare.
The two elite jatropha varieties tested have demonstrated better uniformity, improved selfbranching and early flowering compared to existing commercial varieties and wild types of jatropha planted in similar conditions. All these traits have contributed to early establishment and good productivity for the first year.
Plans for Expanded Field Trial Programme
The JO S1 and JO S2 seedlings, along with the other JOil varieties are undergoing field trials at a number of places across Asia. Plans are in place for an expanded programme that will include African locations.
Presently tests are carried out by JOil in two states of India and in West Java.
JOil’s partner Toyota Tsusho is conducting trials in the Philippines and Cambodia.
Dr Srinivasan Ramachandran, Chief Technology Officer of JOil said: “In all these trials, JOil’s open pollinated seedlings have shown excellent growth, uniformity, early flowering and fruiting.
“We are embarking on an expanded field trial programme that will see our elite jatropha grown in Kenya, Tanzania, Egypt, China, Malaysia and Viet Nam.”
He added: “Multi-location trials help us evaluate the performance of our elite varieties and help identify which ones work best in different agro-climatic environments.”
JOil said it is committed to continuously improve jatropha through breeding, tissue culture and genetic modification to achieve higher oil yield and quality. At the INSULA/RSB Conference in December last year, Dr Hong Yan, announced that JOil’s efforts on jatropha improvement through application of biotechnology will lead to tripling productivity over the next seven to eight years to a target yield of more than three tonnes of seeds per hectare.