Guizotia abyssinica (L.f.) Cass.
Niger, Niger seed
Source: James A. Duke. 1983. Handbook of Energy Crops. unpublished.
- Folk Medicine
- Yields and Economics
- Biotic Factors
Niger is cultivated as an oil seed crop, the seeds yielding about 30% of a
clear, excellent, edible oil which is slow-drying, used in foods, paints, and
soaps, and as an illuminant. It is used as a substitute for olive oil, can be
mixed with linseed oil, and is used as an adulterant for rape oil, sesame oil,
et al. Seeds can also be used fried or as a condiment. Seeds pressed with
honey are made into cakes in Ethiopia, and the press-cake from oil extraction
is used for livestock feed. Whole plants are used as green manure in the
pre-flowering stage. Seed is commonly used as food for cage birds. Plants are
used as a 'bee plant'.
Oil of the seeds is used in rheumatism.
Per 100 g, the seed is reported to contain 483 calories, 6.27.8 g H2O,
17.319.4 g protein, 31.333.9 g fat, 34.239.7 g total carbohydrate, 13.5 g
fiber, 1.88.4 g ash, 50470 mg Ca, 180800 mg P, 0 mg b-carotene
equivalent, 0.43 mg thiamine, 0.55 mg riboflavin, 3.00 mg niacin, and 0 mg
ascorbic acid. Hager's Handbook puts the oil content at 3540% with glycerides
of oleic, linoleic, palmitic, myristic, and physetolic acids. Wealth of India
summarizes fatty acid composition as 1.73.4% myristic (including capric and
lauric), 5.08.4% palmitic, 2.04.9% stearic, 31.138.9% oleic, and 51.654.3%
linoleic. The cake (ZMB) contains: 32.7% CP, 4.4% EE, 17.6% CF, 31.4% NFE,
13.8% ash, 0.84% CaO, and 2.55% P2O5. On an air-dry basis, the herbage, used
as green manure, contains 0.2% N, 0.85% potash, and 0.11% phosphoric acid
(C.S.I.R. 19481976). Roots contain several polyacetylenic compounds.
Herbaceous annual, 0.51.5 m tall; stems pubescent to tip; leaves opposite,
sessile, subcordate to ovate-lanceolate, serrate, subscabrous, to 22 cm long;
involucre with ovate, biseriate scales; flowers yellow, conspicuous, in
solitary or clustered heads to 2 cm across, arranged in corymbs; heads with 4060 tubular hermaphroditic florets, surrounded by a marginal row of ligulate
florets, flowering in each head lasting 78 days, cross-pollinated, probably by
Reported from the African Center of Diversity, niger or cvs thereof is reported
to tolerate disease, grazing, insects, laterites, poor soil, and slope. In
Bombay, the selections 'Poona 2-2-9-1', 'Roha 3-8-2-3', and 'Sholapur 8-4-1-1'
gave 1525% higher yields than controls. (2n = 30) (Duke, 1978)
Niger is extensively grown in S. India and Ethiopia, and to a limited extent in
the West Indies, East Africa, and in various parts of India.
Ranging from Warm Temperate Dry to Moist through Tropical Very Dry to Moist
Forest Life Zones, niger is reported to tolerate annual precipitation of 6.6 to
17.9 dm (mean of 6 cases = 9.8), annual temperature of 13.6 to 27.5°C (mean
of 6 cases = 20.3), and pH of 5.5 to 7.5 (mean of 6 cases = 6.4). Niger is
adapted to tropical and temperate regions, said to require moderate rainfall
not exceeding 10 dm per year. It is adapted to a wide range of soils, from
sandy to heavy, growth being poor on light sandy or gravelly soils. In East
Africa it is grown at altitudes up to 2,500 m, but will give satisfactory
yields at lower altitudes. Niger is often cultivated on very poor acid soils,
on hilly slopes, where fertility is low due to leaching and washing away of the
plant nutrients by erosion. Several factors lend credence to fears that niger
might become a pest if introduced into the U.S.: (1) animals do not relish it,
(2) it tolerates poor soil and drought, (3) it has few serious pests or
diseases, especially in the U.S., (4) seeds store for a year or more without
deterioration, and (5) seeds mature 34.5 months after planting. Arguing
against its weed potential are the facts that it is a short day plant,
self-sterile, and requiring bees for pollination.
Niger seed are broadcast or sown in rows in tropical areas (during June to
August for a rainy season crop, and September to mid-November for a winter
season crop in India; May-July in Ethiopia; at beginning of rainy season in
Kenya). Seed may be broadcast at rate of 10 kg/ha or sown in rows 40 to 50 cm
apart at rate of 5 kg/ha. Broadcast seed is often mixed with fertilizer and
then thoroughly worked onto the soil by light harrowing. Germination begins ca
2 days after sowing. In about 7 days plants should be thinned to stand about
1324 per 30 cm square. One hand-weeding is usually sufficient. Many
cultivators do not manure the land. Best yields of seed and straw obtained
with a balanced NPK fertilizer. In India, when niger is mixed with ragi, rows
should be 1530 cm apart to allow weed control, the land being harrowed 34
times before planting. Niger is a good crop for rotation with corn or wheat.
Before flowering, about 3 months after sowing, niger should be rogued of
off-type plants to insure better seed production.
Niger is harvested 34.5 months after planting, depending on the region. It
should be allowed to stand until flowers have withered. Further delay will
cause heavy loss of seed through shedding. Crop can be harvested by hand or
machine. When harvested by hand, crop is cut with sickles, tied in bundles and
dried by the sun for a week or so, during which time some of the late-formed
seed will mature. Threshing consists of beating dried stalks with sticks on a
threshing floor. Seeds are easily separated then they are cleaned of all earth
and weed seed by winnowing and sieving. Seeds are bagged and shipped to oil
Average seed yields in India range from 100200 kg/ha when grown with ragi, and
300400 kg/ha when grown in pure stands. Similar yields obtained in Ethiopia
when grown alone. In Kenya, monocultural yields average 600 kg/ha. Bhardwaj
and Gupta (1977) report seed yields of 1,000 to 1,200 kg/ha on fertile
Himalayan soils, 200400 kg/ha in degraded habitats. Oil yields range about
235 kg/ha, especially in fields where NPK combination fertilizers have been
used. Of three row spacings, 30 cm was reported to give the highest yields
(552 kg/ha) at Jalapur, India. Plants whose growing tips were nipped, yielded
462 kg/ha compared with 489 for the controls (Singh et al., 1973). Although no
biomass data are available, Kachapur et al. (1978) report DM increases of roots
and shoots, following drought hardening of the seed by soaking in water (15
times seed weight) for 6 hours, followed by drying to the original moisture
content before sowing. Niger is grown primarily in Ethiopia, where
100,000200,000 tons of oil is produced annually, about 75,000 tons in India
per year. In 19701971, India had 483,500 ha in cultivation, producing about
11,800 MT seeds, up 14% from the previous year.
Since it is difficult to keep up with the birdseed market for this potential
weed, there have been few suggestions of Guizotia as a diesel
substitute. Yields are generally so low, that without marked improvement, oil
yields of higher than 500 kg/ha are difficult to visualize. For example, Rao
and Rao (1980), testing 8 cvs, reported the highest yield as only 205 kg/ha
seed with the highest oil content of 41.9%. Oil recovery uses range from
2535% in India.
Niger is self-sterile and requires bees for cross pollination. Although niger
has no serious pests or diseases, the following fungi have been isolated from
it: Alternaria porri (form a sp. dauci causes leafspot),
Alternaria carthami, Alternaria tenuis (on seeds), Cercospora
guizoticola, Cercospora guizotiae, Chaetomium guizotiae, Epicoccum nigrum
(leafspot), Macrophomina phaseoli, Puccinia guizotiae (Ethiopia),
Rhizoctonia bataticola, Rhizoctonia solani, Sclerotinia sclerotiorum. A
bacterial leaf spot is due to Xanthomonas sp.
Complete list of references for Duke, Handbook of Energy Crops
- Bhardwaj, S.P. and Gupta, R.K. 1977. Tilangi, a potential righ yielding oil
seed crop. Indian Farming 27(6):1819.
- C.S.I.R. (Council of Scientific and Industrial Research). 19481976. The wealth
of India. 11 vols. New Delhi.
- Duke, J.A. 1978. The quest for tolerant germplasm. p. 161. In: ASA Special
Symposium 32, Crop tolerance to suboptimal land conditions. Am. Soc. Agron.
- Kachapur, M.D., Hasimani, A.S., and Sastry, K.S.K. 1978. Influence of presowing
seed hardening on early growth of niger (Guizotia abyssinica Cass.).
Current Research 7(5):8687.
- List, P.H. and Horhammer, L. 19691979. Hager's handbuch der pharmazeutischen praxis. vols 26. Springer-Verlag, Berlin.
- Rao, T.S. and Rao, M.S.K. 1980. Performance of niger genotypes at Raichur.
Current Research 9(5):78.
- Singh, P.P., Shrivastava, P.S., and Boehar, A.B.L. 1973. Effect of row and
plant spacings and nipping of tips on the seed yield of niger (Guizotia
abyssinica Cass.). JNKVV 7(4):258260.
Last update Wednesday, January 7, 1998 by aw