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Plant Information

Common Name: SUNN HEMP
Scientific Name: Crotalaria juncea

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Crotalaria juncea
Crotalaria juncea


  • Annual
  • Sunn hemp is a fast growing legume which originated in India and Pakistan.
  • It is an erect, herbaceous, laxly branched annual shrub growing up to 1.5m high, with bright green, simple elliptical leaves.
  • It bears deep-yellow terminal flowers that turn into small, inflated light brown pods.
  • The seeds are heart-shaped, grayish olive, dark grey or dark brown to black and loosened in the pod at maturity.
  • It has a well-developed root system, with a strong taproot.
  • Sunn hemp is grown in temperate regions as a summer annual.
  • Although it can tolerate light frost, growth and nitrogen fixation are reduced under cool conditions.
  • Sunn hemp is drought tolerant and can grow in hot, semi-arid and arid areas with an average annual rainfall as low as 200 mm - but irrigation is necessary for maximum growth and nitrogen fixation.
  • It is adapted to a wide range of soils and performs better on poor sandy soils than most other crops.
  • However, it grows best on well-drained soils with a pH from 5.0 to 7.5.
  • Sunn hemp can be planted for production of bast fibers used in the manufacturing of twine and cord, high quality paper and pulp.
  • For fiber, it grows best on fairly light textured soil like sandy loam or loam of at least moderate fertility.
  • For other purposes, it will also grow well on clay soils and will tolerate low fertility providing that soils are well-drained.
  • Sunn hemp can be planted as a cover crop and green manure to improve and rejuvenate soil quality.
  • It is excellent to add nitrogen and carbon, for increasing soil organic matter to over-farmed soils, for loosening subsoil, to reduce soil erosion, conserve soil water and recycle plant nutrients.
  • To do this, Sunn hemp need to be plow down before reaching full-bloom stage otherwise it becomes too fibrous.
  • Sunn hemp is known to suppress nematodes and can be planted as a break crop to reduce weed and nematode populations.
  • It produces a compound that is toxic to several nematode species, making it an excellent weapon for pest management and to control root-knot.
  • Sunn hemp can be grown as livestock feed - it is non-toxic to animals.
  • When grown for forage, it can be harvested, starting 6 - 8 weeks after sowing, and then every 4 weeks.
  • Plants will remain succulent until it start flowering when stems begin to lignify
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