Castor oil is an important raw material used in a diverse range of chemical products with high added value. From a collection of Mexican grown seeds from the castor plant (Ricinus communis), 18 accessions with a high potential for oil production and panicle indehiscent were selected and cultivated. The variability was studied from three aspects: seed yield, seed composition and the oil quality, through 22 descriptors measured experimentally. Two hybrid seeds cultivated under the same conditions were used as a control. The variability was studied by descriptive statistics and the conformation of clusters via multivariate techniques. It was found that the average coefficient of variation in the descriptors was 32.5%. The seed and oil yields together with content of minor fatty acids corresponded to the descriptors with the greatest dispersion. The correlation coefficients between the descriptors were low. The clustering methods used were capable of identifying and isolating the various hybrids of the local accessions. The principal components analysis identified a group of 6 local seeds with an average seed yield but high oil content.
Key words: Fatty acids, yield, Ricinus communis.
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