How to Purchase Castor Beans

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Castor beans are the seeds of the tropical castor plant, Ricinus communis. U.S. farmers have largely stopped growing castor plants because the seeds and leaves are extremely toxic. Greases, machine lubricants, paints and pharmaceutical supplies all use castor oil as a component. Whether you need bulk seed or a small package is determined by whether you intend to grow enough plants for oil pressing or a few for ornamental garden use.

Buy seed online or through local garden centres, farm supply stores and nurseries. Ask your local extension office for reputable seed suppliers. Local extension offices are listed by state and county in the U.S.

Buy seed with the highest germination rate from suppliers with USDA-compliant seed labels carrying the name Ricinus communis. Seed from online auctions or barter sites may not be viable and may not even be castor beans. Reputable suppliers like Park Seed guarantee that their seed will perform as advertised.

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Check seed labels, online and catalogue descriptions for sell-by dates, seed origin, plant characteristics and disease resistance. Reputable catalogue/online suppliers like Johnny's Seeds include this information. Species, variety name, seed lot, where seed was grown and weight after drying are provided by the seed supplier and included on seed packets and bags.

Buy certified seed to get exactly the variety you want, with no banned harmful weed seeds. Certified seed is grown under strict standards to keep the plant variety pure.

Buy seed packaged for the current year. Up to 50 per cent of old seed may not sprout. Using old seeds you run the risk of producing spindly, slow-growing plants that will not set seed.

Buy seed to arrive for planting in early May. For good seed production, use a planting rate of 6.35kg/acre (about 15.6kg/hectare). Buy enough seed to meet this rate over your entire planting area.

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