Category Archives: Agronomy

Jatropha curcas scion grafted on Jatropha gossypifolia rootstock

Jatropha curcas graft with Jatropha gossypifolia rootstock

We wrote about the role of grafting in Jatropha development before. Today we return to a grafted plant at our test farm. It is almost 3 years old and standing strong. When we created it a random scion was cut from one of our standard field plants and grafted on a cut Jatropha gossypifolia with kind of a reverse cleft graft.

A main property of this grafted plant is an immensely increased drought tolerance compared to Jatropha curcas samples in the vicinity. The stem appears slightly thinner (it’s on the left side in the picture. The main stick in the center is a support because the plant is exposed to constant strong winds), but is developing.

The graft is now constantly flowering and fruiting and develops a unique canopy structure. It demonstrates the many yet unexplored options available for Jatropha agronomic methods. Applying advanced grafting techniques as they are used in modern fruit tree development is only one of them. This graft was one of our first three tests ever conducted. An experienced grafting expert could have definitely done a much better looking job…

We have added another interesting picture which indicates clearly the different textures of the stem below and above the graft. More expertly done the graft would probably be closer to the ground.

Stem of grafted Jatropha

Stem of a grafted Jatropha 30 months old

It should be noted that this plant suffered from heavy mealy bug attacks lasting for almost 18 months. Development basically came to a halt during this period. The plant exhibited above average strength in surviving the attack and was one of the first in the area which recovered and started flowering and fruiting again.

The earlier article discussed in detail the potential of grafting for accelerated farm development and recovery of suspended Jatropha projects with future elite cultivars. At Bionic Palm we see great potential in such an approach and keep experimenting with it while we move along with our hybrid breeding program.






Jatropha curcas scion freshly grafted on J gossypifolia

Jatropha curcas scion freshly grafted on J gossypifolia

There is not a lot of information out there in the public domain about Jatropha grafting. But as with many plantation grown tree species grafting can potentially play a major role in bringing JcL planting material up to commercial speed. There are several scenarios that could make grafting interesting:

  • Less time to the first harvest of seeds. This feature would be especially interesting in the roll out of newly developed hybrids as well as in intermediary stages of breeding.
  • Stronger, better adapted root stock for a cultivar with otherwise elite traits.
  • Upgrading of an existent plantation or field with a newer, better variety.

Within our JcL 3.0 platform development we are looking into beneficial ways of bringing grafting to Jatropha. We are experimenting with various grafting methods as well as different possible type of root stock and study the long term behavior of grafted plants.

Just recently we did an interesting experiment using a Cassava (Manihot esculenta) plant as root stock and a fresh branch of our best local Jatropha as scion. Very surprisingly, after only 2 weeks we had a positive result:

JcL grafted on Cassava

Experimental graft Jatropha on Cassava

A simple, but very effective veneer graft did the job. In another 4-6 weeks the connection will be complete and the ends can be cut off.

Further experiments need to be conducted for this combination, but it opens an extremely interesting route for JcL improvement work. Cassava has very unique survival properties and is the only crop plant in many semi arid tropical regions that develops well through the dry season. It is planted as cuttings and develops very strong tuber roots within 6-9 months which are the reason for growing this staple food in the first place.