JOJOBA: A WONDER PLANT WITH MULTIFARIOUS ADVANTAGES
Dec 17 - 30, 2007
Jojoba (Simmondsia Chinesia) is a perennial woody, multi-stemmed and bushy shrub. It has the quality to easily acclimatize itself according to ecological conditions. The plant is best suited for frost free areas, however, when temperature falls below 20 degree Fahrenheit, flowers and terminal plants and branches of jojoba plants are damaged. During early seedling development, excessive cold destroy the entire plantation, however, taller plants are not damaged to that extent but they are apt to reduce yield. Jojoba is very tolerant to high temperatures. This plant has a natural growth in areas, where there is 18 inches of precipitation per annum. It grows between 2 to 4 meters tall and its roots may go up to 20 meters into the porous soil. The stature of the plant may go up to 3 meters. Its natural life has been one hundred years to two hundred years. Irrigation produces more vegetative growth.
The plant requires most of the watering during late winter and early spring. Wild jojoba mostly grows on coarse, light or medium soils, possessing good drainage and water infiltration. Jojoba grown on heavy soils results in later blooming, slow growth and is affected by fungal disease problems.
Methods of cultivation: The plant can either be grown by direct seeding or by transplanting of seedling to the soil. Many growers prefer direct seeding because of its cost control, fast cultivation and labour cost saving. Seed can be germinated in vermiculite or stand at about 80 degree Fahrenheit. Emergence takes place within 15 - 20 days and the seedlings become ready for transplantation as soon as they are 5 ñ 12 inches tall. That stage comes within 8 - 10 weeks. It has been experimented and observed that propagation of jojoba from clones or tissue culture is a faster method of improvement.
Pollination: The plants are usually mono-sexual. Female flowers are small, pale green in colour and are commonly solitary or in clusters at the nodes, while male flowers are yellow, larger in size and appear in clusters. Pollination is through wind or insects. The fruit is green in colour in the form of capsules, which contains up to 3 seeds each. When the fruit ripens, the capsule splits and releases the seeds. The seed is brown, wrinkled and is almost of the size of a small olive. Seed production is generally limited till the plant is 4 years old. The colour of the plant remains light to dark green throughout the year. Jojoba grows wild on soils of marginal fertility, possessing pH from 5 to 8. The soil to which jojoba is adopted is in the semi-arid areas of Cholistan, which is somewhat alkaline and has potassium level in the soil.
Application of fertilizers: The Arid Zone Research Institute, Bahawalpur has not shown any improvement in the yield trials and vegetable growth with the application of nitrogen or phosphorus; therefore, additional nitrogen and phosphorus fertilizers are not recommended. Some improved varieties of jojoba have been evolved. They vary in yield components including seed size, oil percentage, number of flowers per node, early flowering and seed production (starting before the normal stage of fifth year), regular high production every year, upright growth and degree of frost tolerance. Further progress is under way to develop variety of jojoba suitable for mechanical harvest.
Weeding: As a precaution and protective measure, weeds must be controlled at an early stage in the establishment of the plantation. Weed control before and after plantation between rows during the growth is very much needed until the plant acquires growth large enough to shade competing plants. No herbicides are recommended or advised for use on jojoba in Pakistan. On the soil with poor drainage, the plant is vulnerable to fungal wilting. More than hundred species of insects have been identified on jojoba but reportedly only a few causes economic damage. Spider mites, grasshoppers and thrips may result in yield losses. Fences may be necessary for protection from wild animals as they find the plant very palatable.
It has been noticed that all seeds on a jojoba shrub do not mature at the same time. Mostly jojoba is presently harvested manually. Jojoba seed that has been dried to about 10 percent moisture and protected from pests attach remains safe for several years. Economically useful yield is produced after the fourth or fifth year after planting. Yields range from a few seeds to as much as 30 lbs of clean, dry seed per plant. Production varies from plant to plant and from year to year.
Presently the average yield of commercial jojoba plantations is less than 300 lbs per acre. Plantations developed with selected higher yielding clones are capable of producing up to 800 lbs per acre.
Jojoba Research Station and Arid Zone Research Institute, Bahawalpur are actively engaged in crop improvement programmes of jojoba to improve its productivity. Low yield and damage due to frost have caused financial losses to farmers and investors. As a result of the concerted efforts of the aforesaid institute, jojoba has been cultivated in different areas of Punjab over 800 acres. Demonstration plants have also been arranged at different places. A documentary on the plantation care and other details has been telecasted on the PTV screen several times. The PCWR (Pakistan Council of Research in Water Resources) has planted jojoba on desert dune lands at Dingarh Field Research Station in the Cholistan desert to test its cultivation in the desert conditions under conjunctive use of rain water and moderately saline water with pH 7.5.
Presently jojoba is being cultivated on arid land in Australia, India, Israel and Pakistan. It is known hohoba in the U.S.A. The native place of jojoba is an American Snow desert.
Jojoba has long been known as valuable browse plant and has been widely planted as ornamental plant. More recently it has received a wide spread attention because of the liquid wax that is produced from its seeds, which is a possible substitute for sperm whale. Jojoba oil has advantages over the whale product produced from whale sperm. It does not possess the fish odour. In fact it has a mild pleasant odour. The oil content in its seeds is more than 50 percent. The crude oil contains no fat but oil, which requires refinement for use in most industrial processes. It has a very high viscosity index and very high flash and fire points, which have important industrial parameters.
Uses and benefits: Jojoba oil can be used in alcohol and acid derivatives, emulsifiers, resins, plasticizers, protective coatings, fibres, corrosion inhibitors and in bases for creams and ointments. It can also be used in hydrogen rated wax (solids) which in turn are used in polishing wax, protective coating for fruits and smokeless candles. Additionally jojoba makes excellent browsing feed for deer, cattle, sheep and goats.
Medicinal and therapeutic value: Jojoba is orally administered for fat reduction, blood lipid reduction and cancer prevention. Jojoba oil may be used alone or with a few drops of a favourable essential oil for an excellent body moisturizer after bath or shower. It is also wonderful massage oil for infants or those with sensitive skin.