Canavalia ensiformis (jack bean)
Viable seeds / kg (approx.): 530
Minimum purchase: 1 kg
Canavalia is a herbaceous plant of
the Fabacea family (beans), which is used as green manure and cover crop. It
has a height of 0.5 - 2 m, but it can extend up to 10 m when it has the option
of climbing. Its cultivation cycle is 170 - 240 days. It produces large pods,
20 - 30 cm long and 2 cm wide.
Canavalia has a long history of
use; it is known that it was cultivated in Mexico since 3000 BC. Its main uses are
as cover crop, weed control, green manure and it is also claimed to have an
insecticidal effect, especially against leaf-cutter ants (Atta sp), although there is no scientific evidence for this. To extend its life span in the
field, it is suggested to prune it once flowering has started to prevent
the production of pods, and to manage it as a hedge. It can contribute from 3
to 7 tons of dry matter per hectare in one cycle, and fix about 10 kg per
hectare of nitrogen. If it is necessary to remove the plant at the end of the cycle,
it is better to remove only the aerial part leaving the roots, which will then decompose,
releasing nitrogen. Plowing can also be used to incorporate the entire plant
after flowering. Fresh ripe seeds contain toxic alkaloids, so they can cause
problems in animals and humans if consumed.
It grows well up to 900 masl, but it
has been planted up to 1500 m. It tolerates annual rainfall of 600-4300 mm,
although it prefers ranges of 900 - 2000 mm. It is tolerant to drought, shade
and moderate flooding.
It can grow in poor soils, with
little phosphorus content, from sandy-loam to clayey, although it develops better in
fertile soils rich in organic matter. It prefers pH of 5-6, although it
tolerates ranges of 4.3 - 8.0.
The seed must be sown to a depth of
2-5 cm, and germination occurs in 2 to 3 days. For green / cover fertilizer, it
is sown in rows 50 cm apart and 20 cm between plants (150 - 200 kg seeds / ha).
In association with crops, the recommended spacing is 4 plants / m2 (65
- 80 kg / ha).
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