Oil Seed Crops – Commercial Crops :

February 3, 2014
By Krishiworld


OIL SEED crops have been the backbone of agricultural economy of India from time immemorial. Today these crops are cultivated on about 16.5 million hectares, with total production of 10 million tonnes. This area constitutes approximately one-tenth of the total cultivated area in India. On the oil seed map of the world, India occupies a prominent position, both in regard to acreage and production. The important oilseed crops grown in this country in order of importance are groundnut, rapseed and mustard, sesame, linseed, safflower, castor, sunflower and niger.


GEOGRAPHICAL ORIGIN. Groundnut (Arachis hypogaea L.)is believed to be the native of Brazil to Peru, Argentina and Ghana, from where it was introduced into Jamaica, Cuba and other West Indies islands. The plant was introduced by Portuguese into Africa from where it was introduced into North America. It was introduced into India during the first half of the sixteenth century from one of the Pacific islands of China, where it was introduced earlier from either central America or South America.

ECONOMIC IMPORTANCE. The oil content of the seed varies from 44 to 50 per cent, depending on the varieties and agronomic conditions. Groundnut oil is an edible oil. It finds extensive use as a cooking medium both as refined oil and Vanaspati Ghee. It is also used in soap making, and manufactoring cosmectics and lubricants, olein stearin and their salts. Kernels are also eaten raw, roasted or sweetened. They are rich in protein and vitamins A, B and some members of B2 group. Their calorific value is 349 per 100 grammes. The H.P.S. type of groundnut kernels are exported to foreign contries. The residual oilcake contains 7 to 8 per cent of N, 1.5
per cent of P 2O5 and 1.2 per cent of K2O and is used as a fertilizer. It is an important protein suppliment in cattle and poultry rations. It is also consumed as confectionary product. The cake can be used for manufacturing artificial fibre. The haulms (plant stalks) are fed ( green, dried or silaged) to livestock. Groundnut shell is used as fuel for manufacturing coarse boards, corksubstitutes etc. Groundnut is also of value as rotation crop. Being a legume with root nodules, it can synthesise atmospheric nitrogen and therefore improve soil fertility.

BOTANICAL DESCRIPTION. Groundnut (Archis hypogaea L.) is a member of sub-family, Papilionaceae of the family Leguminosae. Archis hypogaea L. consists of two subspecies each containing two botanical varieties.

Subspecies hypogaea

variety hypogaea (The Virginia Group)

variety hirsuta Kohlar

Subspecies fastigiata Waldron

variety fastigiata ( the Valencia Group)

variety vulgaris (the Spanish Group)

Plants of the botanical variety hypogaea are spreading (runner) to upright (erect bunch) in growth habit, have alternate branching, lack inflorescences on the main stem, possess appreciable
fresh seed dormancy, flowers are longer and mature later than those of subspecies fasligiata. Variety hirsuta has been used only to a little extent.

Plants of this subspecies fasligiata are upright, have sequential branching and inflorescences in the main-stem leaf axils, possess little fresh seed dormancy, and are of shorter duration than those of the subspecies hypogaea. Subspecies fasligiata includes both the Spanish and Valencia types

Groundnut, in general, has a short-statured plant, with the main axis being upright (15 to 40 cm long) but the major part of the plant consists of the primary branches. Secondary and tertiary branches are found in the semi-spreading and spreading (Virginia) types, giving them a prostrate stature. The leaves are alternate, stipulate and quadri-foliate. The flowers are orange yellow, typically papilionaceous, with a long calyx tube within which is held the style borne on a superior ovary. The calyx and corolla lobes are borne in the axils of the leaves on the fruiting branches. They are bisexual, Zygomorphic, complete and sessile. Petals are five, with one large standard, two wings and two fused keel petals. There are two steering and eight fertile anthers, four of which are globose and four oblonge(dimorphic).

Groundnut is predominantly a self-pollinated crop and pollination takes place early in the morning. As soon as the fertilization is complete, the flowers fade. After fertilization, an intercalary meristem becomes active at the base of the ovary above the point of attachment of the hypanthium, producing new tissue below itself and resulting in an elongated stalk in the peg. The pegs are positively geotropic, enter the soil and bend in a horizontal plane. Generally two, and occassionally one, three or four, fertilized ovules are borne at the tip of the peg which later swells to become the pod. The testa is generally pink, but varieties with red, white, purple and blotched testa, with various gradations of colours are available.


The major groundnut-producing countries of the world are India, China, Nigeria, Senegal, Sudan, Burma and the USA. Out of the total area of 18.9 million hectares and the total production of 17.8 million tonnes in the world, these countries account for 69% of the area and 70% of the production. India occupies the position, both in regard to the area and the production, in the world. About 7.5 million hectares is put under it annually and the production is about 6 million tonnes. 70% of the area and 75% of the production are concentrated in the four states of Gujarat, Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu and Karnataka. Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka and Orissa have irrigated area forms about 6% of the total groundnut area in India.

CLIMATE AND SOIL.groundnut is grown throughout the tropics and its cultivation is extended to the subtropical contries lying between 45 degrees N and 35 degrees S and upto an altitude of 1000 metres. The crop can be grown successfully in places receiving a minimum rainfall of 1,250 mm. The rainfall should be well distributed well during the flowering and pegging of the crop.The total amount required for presowing operations (preparatory cultivation) is 100 mm; for sowing, it is 150 mm and for flowering and pod development an evenly distributed rainfall of 400-500 mm is required. The groundnut crop, however, cannot stand frost, long and severe draught or water stagnation.

Groundnut is grown on wide variety of soil types. However, the crop does best on sandy loam and loamy soils and in the black soils with good drainage. Heavy and stiff clays are unsuitable for groundnut cultivation as the pod development is hampered in these soils.

ROTATION AND MIXED CROPPING. Generally, as a kharif crop, groundnut is grown year after year. In certain places, it is rotated with wheat, jowar, bajra, garden crops, such as potatoes, onions, chillies, garlic, ginger and turmeric. The yields of the cereal crops following groundnut are usually increased by about 25%.

Pulses, e.g. red gram (arhar), mash and moong are grown mixed with groundnut. In certain places, millets e.g. jowar and bajra, and castor are grown mixed with groundnut.

SEASON. Groundnut is raised mostly as a rainfed kharif crop, being sown from May to June, Depending on the monsoon rains. In some areas or where the mansoon is delayed, it is sown as late as August or early September. As an irrigated crop it is grown to limited between January and March and between May and July.

CULTIVATION. For a kharif crop, with one set of rains in May-June, the field is given two ploughings and the soil is pulvarised well to obtain a good tilth. The third ploughing may be given just before sowing. Harrows or tillers can be used for cultivation. When the soils are heavily infested with perennial weeds, e.g. Cynodon or Cyperus, very deep ploughing is needed. If a field is infested with white grubs, chemicals, such as Heptachl or chlordane, are drilled at the rate of 25 kg per ha before final horrowing. For the irrigated crop, beds of convenient size may be made, depending on the tropography of the land, the nature of the irrigation source and the mode of liftinfg water. Since groundnut is a deep rooted plant it uses up both moisture and nutrients in the deeper layers of the soil. Generally, the following fertilizer schedules are recommended, depending upon the soil fertility, the variety grown, and the quantum and distribution of rainfall.


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