The tropical multiuse tree Jatropha curcas
L. (jatropha) is highly promoted as oilseed crop for biodiesel production and for climate change mitigation, but cultivation practices require further research. The objectives of this study were to assess the effects of varying plant spacings (2.0 m × 4 m compared to 1.5 m × 4 m), crop establishment methods (raising plantlets in a nursery prior to planting to the field compared to direct sowing) and genotypes on seed yield, seed quality and plant height, recorded at a dry-subhumid location in Madagascar (Ihosy) and at a humid location in Cameroon (Batchenga). Averaged across treatment variants and genotypes, seed yield and seed oil content were higher at the dry-subhumid site and in particular the narrower spacing reached higher seed yields per unit area than the wider spacing. At the humid site, plant growth was characterized by strong accumulation of biomass. The establishment method tested at the dry-subhumid site showed no significant differences in the recorded parameters. Our results encourage to re-think common practices in jatropha cultivation and underpin the importance of the correct choice of location, genotype and agronomic practices considering the interactions between all factors.
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