Crambe abyssinica Hochst. ex R.E.Fries
Crambe, Abyssinian mustard
Source: James A. Duke. 1983. Handbook of Energy Crops. unpublished.
- Folk Medicine
- Yields and Economics
- Biotic Factors
Interest in crambe is three-fold (1) the seed oil is one of the richest known
sources of erucic acid, (2) rapeseed oil, traditional erucic acid source, is
being altered genetically to contain less erucic acid, and (3) crambe appears
to be a better potential domestic crop than rapeseed (Lessman and Anderson,
1981). It is the cheapest source of erucic acid, which performs better than
any known material as a mold lubricant in continuous steel casting. It is also
in demand for making 'Nylon 1313', a tough form of nylon used for molded
plastic, for articles as bearings and heavy fibers in brushes, as an additive
in plastic films to prevent sheets from sticking together, in plasticizers to
keep them soft and flexible. Hull-free seeds contain about 26% protein.
Crambe meal is used as plywood and rubber adhesive, as a source of protein
isolates, and as an additive to waxes. Crambe meal, after unpalatable material
is removed or made inactive, may be used as supplement for ruminants not to
exceed one-third to one-half of the supplement; it is not recommended for hogs
No data available.
Per 100 g, the leaf is reported to contain 32 calories, 89.0 g H2O, 4.2 g
protein, 0.6 g fat, 4.6 g total carbohydrate, 1.6 g fiber, 1.6 g ash, 176 mg
Ca, 70 mg P, 2.9 mg Fe, 85 ug beta-carotene equivalent, a trace of thiamine,
0.09 mg riboflavin, and 0.7 mg niacin. The seed contains 15.5 g protein, &
55.5 g fat, 26.5 g total carbohydrate, 10.8 g fiber, and 3.0 g ash (Gohl,
1981). As harvested, crambe seed-plus-hull averages only 32% oil, the hull
making up 30% of the harvested product. Crambe oil contains 55-60% erucic
acid, 15% oleic, 10% linoleic, 7% linolenic, 3% eicosenoic, 3% tetracosenoic,
2% palmitic, and 2% behenic acids. The dehulled seed contains 4.6% moisture,
45.6% crude fat, 24.2% protein, 3.1% crude fiber, 4.2% ash, and 18.3% N-free
extract. After oil extraction, the seed meal contains 6.8% moisture, 0.4%
crude fat, 44.8% protein, 4.6% crude fiber, 7.9% ash, and 35.5% N-free extract.
Conventionally prepared crambe meal contains substances that are growth
inhibitory and goitrogenic to non-ruminants and unpalatable to ruminants.
Epi-progoitrin is the principal glucosinolate in crambe seed meal (8-10%).
Sinapine (which hydrolyzes during seed germination to sinapic acid and choline)
makes up 0.27-0.56% of the meal (Lessman and Anderson, 1981).
Erect, annual herb, up to 1 m tall, branching mostly in the upper half; leaves
large, ovate in outline, pinnately lobed, progressively smaller upward;
inflorescence a long panicled raceme, the lateral branches of which are sharply
ascending and shorter than the primiary axis; flowering indeterminate; flowers
small, whitish; pods numerous, spherical, one-seeded, indehiscent; seed
interior yellow. First-formed pods usually remain on stalk until last-formed
pods mature. One plant may produce 530-1,840 fruits.
Reported from the African Center of Diversity, crambe, or cvs thereof, is
reported to tolerate drought, and poor sandy soil. It will not tolerate wet or
waterlogged soils. Several selections have been made, and because of its
confusion with Crambe hispanica, putative hybrids have been developed.
(2n = 90).
Originally described from East Africa, but introduced into Europe, North
Africa, and later to United States, and Russia. It has been grown
experimentally in Russia since 1932 and in United States since the 1940's.
Ranging from Boreal Moist to Warm Temperate Dry through Moist Forest Life
Zones, crambe is reported to tolerate annual precipitation of 3.5 to 12.0 dm
(mean of 13 cases = 6.5), annual temperature of 5.7 to 16.2°C (mean of 13
cases = 10.0), and pH of 5.0 to 7.8 (mean of 13 cases = 6.6). (Duke, 1978,
1979) Cool season crop, well-adapted as a spring crop in wheat-growing areas
of the Pacific northwestern United States. A spring and fall crop can be
grown, e.g. in Indiana. Grown as far south as Venezuela and as far north as
Sweden and Leningrad. In seedling stage, it survives temperatures down to
-5°C. It fares poorly where weeds are a problem. Does best on medium-light
to heavy soils that are fertile and well drained. Sandy soils may be used if
nutrients are provided, about 50-75 kg N/ha.
Early planting favors high yields, but crambe can be injured or killed by
freezing temperatures. Therefore, planting should be delayed until danger of a
severe frost is past. Conventional planting and harvesting equipment can be
used. Seeding rate of 17 kg/ha in rows 16 cm apart, if germination is 80-90%,
thus giving about 126 plants per sq. m. Rate may be reduced for rows less wide
apart, or increased if germination is less than 80%. Seed should be planted
2.5 cm deep with a grain drill in firm, well-prepared soil. Irrigation may be
necessary during the growing period. Cultural practices are similar to those
used for small grains. A fertilizer program similar to that for small grains
is also suitable for crambe. Cost of production is about the same as for
barley. The major problems are weed control and seed-shattering.
From planting to harvest requires about 100 days, but this may vary
considerably. Plants are harvested after leaves have dropped and seed pods and
stems have turned light straw colored, with combine either cut directly or
after swathing. Oilseeds with high oil content such as crambe are usually
processed in a two-step operation with half the oil pressed out and the rest
extracted with a solvent.
Yields vary widely from 1,125-1,624 kg/ha in Russia and 450-2,522 kg/ha in the
United States, with yields highest in weed-free fields. In irrigated fields
with additional nitrogen, yields up to 5 MT/ha have been attained. Buchanan
and Duke (1981) take a conservative 1,120 kg/ha for their yield calculations.
That is slightly less than is reported by a farmer in Kentucky who followed his
crambe with soybean. Yields of more than 1,400 kg/ha are reported over a four
year period in Sweden (FCA 04534(035)). As crambe is a new crop, only limited
data are available. However, yield figures and specific demand for the oil
indicate crambe is a potential oilseed crop of good economic value. In 1972,
about 700 hectares were cultivated, mainly in Illinois, Indiana, and Ohio.
Many countries in Europe are also experimenting with crambe as a possible new
Test plantings in Russia, under a wide variety of ecological conditions, gave
oil contents of 25-33% for seed with hulls (dehulled seeds reached 54%)
(Cornelius and Simmons, 1969). Lessman and Anderson (1981) report yields of
169-840 kg/ha in Indiana, 2,000 in Missouri, suggesting oil yields of about
Fungi reportedly found on crambe include the following: Alternaria
abyssinica, A. brassicola, Fusarium avenaceum, F. conglutinans, F. culmorum, F.
equiseti, F. martii, F. redolens, F. scirpi, F. solani, Plasmodiophora
brassicae. The nematode, Heterodera schachtii, has been isolated
from crambe. Cabbage maggots cause damage in some areas. Plants are more
susceptible to insect attack if damaged by hail, wind, or rain. Seed weevils,
Ceutorhynchus assimilis, which transmit the turnip yellow mosaic virus,
may infect crambe (Horvath et al., 1973).
Complete list of references for Duke, Handbook of Energy Crops
Buchanan, R.A. and Duke, J.A. 1981. Botanochemical crops. p. 157-179. In:
McClure, T.A. and Lipinsky, E.S. (eds.), CRC handbook of biosolar resources.
Vol. II. Resource materials. CRC Press, Inc. Boca Raton, FL.
Duke, J.A. 1978. The quest for tolerant germplasm. p. 1-61. In: ASA Special
Symposium 32, Crop tolerance to suboptimal land conditions. Am. Soc. Agron.
Duke, J.A. 1979. Ecosystematic data on economic plants. Quart. J. Crude Drug
Gohl, B. 1981. Tropical feeds. Feed information summaries and nutritive values.
FAO Animal Production and Health Series 12. FAO, Rome.
Horvath, J., Juretic, N., and Milicic, D. 1973. Crambe abyssinica
Hochst. ex R.E. Frees as a new host plant for turnip yellow mosaic virus and
radish mosaic virus. Phytopath. Z. 78:69-74.
Lessman, K.J. and Anderson, W.P. 1981. Crambe. p. 223-246. In: Pryde, E.H.,
Princen, L.H., Mukherjee, K.D. (eds.), New sources of fats and oils. AOCS
Monograph #9. American Oil Chemists' Society. Champaign, IL.
last update July 8, 1996