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Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs


Other Common Names Include:

Castor oil plant

Latin Name: Ricinus communis

Plant Family: Euphorbiaceae

Close Relatives: None

Uses and Markets: Industrial (e.g. lubricants, hydraulic fluids, inks, paints and coatings, textiles and cosmetics), personal care products, medicinal (e.g. specific extracts used as antimicrobials)

A crop of castor. Castor seed pods.Castor seeds.
Production Life Cycle in Ontario


Hardiness Zone


Special Notes

Currently a Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) regulated crop in Canada.

Propagation method

Seeds planted at 11 to 16 kg/ha.

Greenhouse Seeding/Propagation Dates


Field Seeding Date:

Mid to late spring

Field Transplanting Dates


In-row spacing

20-30 cm

Between row spacing


Optimal Soil temperature at planting

15°C at 20 cm depth


No current Ontario fertility recommendations exist. Research and recommendations from outside Ontario do not necessarily apply to Ontario growing conditions. In the southern United States, 90 to 135 kg/ha N is recommended. Click here for phosphorus and potassium application guidelines and for more information on specialty crop fertility.

Soil type

Well drained loamy soil.

Soil pH


Special requirements for growth habit


Optimal Temperature Range


Temperature sensitivity

Extremely sensitive to frost and cold weather.

Irrigation requirements

Requires 20.6 to 24.7 cm of water /ha annually.

Days to harvest

140-190 days depending on cultivar.

Specialized equipment


Harvest Scheduling

Single harvest

Hand harvest or machine harvest

Machine Harvest (combine)

Quality parameters/grades

No established grades.

Additional Harvest Notes

Harvest 10 days after the first killing frost.

Post harvest
Special handling/curing

Seeds dried at 30-34°C.

Storage Conditions

Relative humidity (RH): <6%

Temperature: N/A

Air Exchange: N/A

Duration: 3-4 years

Specific pests observed on this crop in Ontario (observations based on limited experience with this crop)

None identified in Ontario to date.

Other Potential Pests: The following pests have not been observed on this crop in Ontario. However, they are either significant concerns for closely related plants in Ontario, or are reported on this crop in other production areas. This is not a comprehensive list of all potential pests. Not all of these pests will necessarily survive Ontario’s climate, but could potentially survive in a protected environment (e.g. greenhouse, storage facility).

Insects and Invertebrates: False chinch bug* (e.g. Nysius niger), leafhoppers, leafminers (e.g. Liriomyza trifolii), caterpillar defoliators (e.g. loopers*, armyworms), stem borers (e.g. Conogethes punctiferalis*, Dichocrosis punctiferalis*), , green stinkbug, mites

Diseases: Gray mould* (e.g. Botryotinia ricini/Amphobotrys ricini), vascular wilt* (e.g. Fusarium oxysporum f.sp. ricini), charcoal rot* (e.g. Macrophomina phaseolina),  alternaria leaf spot (e.g. Alternaria ricini), bacterial leaf spot (e.g. Xanthomonas axonopodis pv. ricini)

* Indicates pests commonly mentioned as causing significant damage or economic loss to this crop.


Varieties differ in susceptibility to various pests, including: gray mould, charcoal rot, bacterial leaf spot.  Crop rotation may be helpful in controlling some diseases, including: vascular wilt, charcoal rot.  Diseases are worse when grown under high humidity conditions.  This crop is in Crop Group 20: Oilseeds Group and subgroup 20B: Sunflower Subgroup. For more information on Crop Groups, refer to the Pest section.  Always refer to product labels, and follow all directions specified on the label, before applying any pest control product.  For more information, consult an OMAFRA specialist.

Additional Notes

Castor seed contains ricin, a highly toxic protein, and contact with the plant itself may cause allergic reactions in some people.

Ontario Research Projects Used to Create This Profile
  1. McKeown, A.W. and C.J. Bakker. 2010. Evaluation of establishment techniques for castor, unpublished.
  2. Todd, J., Elford, E., and M. Thimmanagari. 2008-present. OMAFRA/OSCIA Demonstration Plot, Canada’s Outdoor Farm Show, unpublished.
  1. Akitar, M., and Alam, M. M. 1990. Effect of bare-root dip treatment with extracts of castor on root-knot development and growth of tomato. Mediterranean Nematology, 18: 53-54.
  2. Brigham, Raymond D. 1993. Caster: Return of an old crop.
  3. Duke, Jamie A. 1983. Ricinus communis L. .
  4. Hwee Ling, Koh., Tung Kian, Chua., and Chay Hoon, Tan. 2009. A guide to medicinal plants: an illustrated, scientific and medicinal approach. Singapore: World Scientific Pub.
  5. Labalette, Françoise., Estragnat., and Messéan, Antoine. 1996. Development of castor bean production in France. ASHS Press, Alexandria, VA. P. 340-342.
  6. Reddy, K. Raja., and Matcha, Satyasai. K. 2010. Quantifying nitrogen effects on castor bean (Ricinus communis L.) development, growth, and photosynthesis. Industrial Crops and Products, 31:185-191.
  7. Weiss, E.A. 1971. Castor, Sesame and Safflower. New York, Barnes & Noble.