Crop Encyclopedia

Select the crop and the attribute of interest to find the associated data
   OR,

Search crops by keywords OR,

Alphabatically | A | B | C | D | E | F | G | H | I | J | K | L | M | N | O | P | Q | R | S | T | U | V | W | X | Y | Z |
 
Chromosome Number: 14
Taxonomic Classification
Class
:
Magnoliopsida
Order
:
Fabales
Family
:
Fabaceae
Genus
:
Sesbania
 
It is valued for its leaves and flowers. It has ornamental, food and fodder values also. Its leave are rich in vitamin A (25.56IU/100g). The flowers are also used as a vegetable. It can also be used as a standard for pepper and betel vines. It is also grown as a shade tree for young coconut seedlings and as a wind break for banana plantations. The bark contains tannin and yields good fibre and gum. The wood is used both in hut making and as a fire wood. It is now extensively grown in Punjab, Delhi, West Bengal, Assam, Tamil Nadu, Kerala and Andamans.
   
Climate and soil  
Agathi prefers humid and sub-humid tropical climate. An average rainfall of 1,000–2,000mm and temperature between 26° and 36°C (maximum) and 18° and 24°C (minimum) are its ideal requirements. The crop grows best in black cotton soils. It grows quickly if the surface soil is loose. It can tolerate seasonal waterlogging. It is adaptable to ght/medium/heavy soils.
 
Varieties
There is no improved variety of agathi. But its 2 forms—one with red flowers and the other with white flowers are seen. The white flowered agathi is suitable for kitchen gardening.
   
Cultivation  
It is propagated by seeds. Seeds are sown directly or in th nursery. Direct sowing is done at a spacing of 90cm × 90cm. The pits of 30cm × 30cm × 30cm size are dug. It is filled with top soil mixed with farmyard manure. Rainy season is ideal sowing time. The seedlings are raised in nursery or in polythene bags. The seedlings 15–20cm tall are transplanted in the main field at a spacing of 90cm × 90cm.

Manuring and fertilization
Application of superphosphate as a basal dose followed by 2 applications of NK combination with urea and muriate of potash at monthly interval is advantageous to the crop.

Aftercare
Field should be thoroughly weeded and soil should be worked up frequently.

Yield
A tree yields 4.5–9.0kg of leaves/year. Its flowers are also used as vegetable.

TOP
 
Chromosome Number: 16
Taxonomic Classification
Class
:
Magnoliopsida
Order
:
Rosales
Family
:
Rosaceae
Genus
:
Amygdalus
 
Almond an important temperate nut fruit of the country, is mostly grown in Jammu and Kashmir, and Kinnaur (Himachal Pradesh). Most of the existing orchards in Jammu and Kashmir are of seedling origin and attain giant size which makes orchard management difficult. The vegetatively propagated plants start bearing only after 3–4 years. Damage to blossom due to early spring frosts is a major constraint. With identification of mid and late blooming types and introduction of late-blooming varieties, this problem is likely to be overcome. However, the productivity and quality can be improved by proper irrigation, pruning and cultural practices.
   
Climate and soil  
The site for almond cultivation should have proper soil- and air-drainage. It must be free from hailstorm and frost in spring. Almond grows 750–3,210m above mean sea-level (Ladakh). It has very exacting climatic requirement compared to any other fruit. Even in well-recognized almond areas, certain sites are well adapted. The most tender stage in blossoming and development of young fruits is shortly after dropping of the husk. The blossoms become more and more tender on opening. Blossoms with petals exposed but not yet opened are known to withstand temperature up to –2.2°C, but blossoms at petal fall stage get damaged at 0.5° to –1.1°C. Blossoms can withstand temperatures up to –2.2° to –3°C for a short time only, but if low temperatures continue for many hours, they are damaged.
 
Varieties
Makhdoom, Parbat, Waris, Shalimar, Afghanistan Seedling, IXL, Jordanolo, Merced and Non-Pareil are recommended for Jammu and Kashmir, whereas Neplus-Ultra and Texas (Mission) for dry temperate zone; Merced, Non-Pareil and IXL for high and midhills; and Drake, Katha, Peerless and Neplus Ultra for lowhills and valley areas of Himachal Pradesh. The almonds of seedling origin are divided into 4 groups. They are paper-shelled, soft-shelled, semi-soft-shelled and hard-shelled.

The low-chilling almond varieties which are promising for the plains are:

California Papershell

It ripen in the last week of June. The thin-shelled nuts are bold, weighing about 2.1 g each and the average yield being 3.8kg/tree.

Hybrid 15

The thin-shelled variety with bold nuts ripen in the first week of July. On an average, a nut weighs 1.7g, the average yield being 3kg/tree.

Pethick's Wonder

Thin shelled nuts of this variety are bigger than all other varietes. On an average, a nut weighs 2.5g, the average yield being 3.7kg/tree.

JK 55

Earliest ripening variety, its nuts are harvested in the first week of June. The nuts are semi-hard, small-sized, the average yield being 3.5kg dry nuts/tree.

   
Propagation
Bitter or sweet almonds procured from current season’s crop should be sown directly in well-prepared seed beds during November. In inclement weather at the time of sowing, nuts can be stratified. Although peach also acts as a good rootstock for almond during initial 10–15 years, due to shorter life-span of the rootstock, the plants raised on peach rootstock do not last longer. Seedlings of pencil thickness and more should be budded 10cm above the ground level during July–August by shield budding method.
   
Cultivation  

Planting

Vegetatively-propagated plants should be planted in a square or hexagonal system at a spacing of 5.4–7.5m, depending upon soil fertility, vigour of scion and availability of irrigation. Every third row should be planted with a pollinizer variety.

The blooming time of pollinizers should coincide with the blooming time of main varieties. For an efficient pollination, 5–8 bee hives should be placed in the orchard at the time of commencement of bloom.

Training and pruning

Plants should be headed back 1m above the ground level at planting time. The first branch should be allowed not below 0.6m from the ground level. Central modified leader system should be adopted by retaining 3–4 scaffold branches which produce well-balanced trees. Strong scaffold limbs can be obtained by maintaining 45–60 crotch angles. In weak crotches, the branches should be tied by strong thread with pegs.

Almonds produce most of the fruits on short spurs which remain fruitful for about 5 years. Pruning should be planned in such a manner that one-fifth of fruiting wood is replaced each year. Pruning is to be done in such a way that new spur growth is constantly replacing spurs that are no longer fruitful. Unwanted water sprouts and suckers should be removed. Trees with less than 10–12 years of age should make 22–25cm annual growth and older trees should produce 15cm of new shoot growth each year. In less vigorous older trees, growth can be stimulated by slightly severe pruning. Cut back the top to large lateral limbs and thin out the smaller and weak wood severely.

Manuring and fertilization

Almond is a heavy feeder, requiring proper fertilization. For maximum yield, analysis of soil and leaves is necessary. However, the following dose of nutrient is recommended for almonds growing in Jammu and Kashmir .

The N should be split in 2–3 doses. First half dose should be supplied along with P and K a fortnight before expected bloom, second dose (one-fourth of total quantity) may be applied about 3 weeks after fruit set and third dose (one-fourth of total quantity) in June/July.

Aftercare

In windy areas the plants should be tied loosely to the stake to prevent wind damage. Water sprouts developing from rootstock should be pinched back. For higher yield and nuts with plump kernels, the trees should be given 3–4 irrigations during the dry spell.

   
Harvesting & Postharvest management
Almonds are ready for harvesting when they change from green to yellowish with cracks or when splitting at suture starts from pedicel end. Its nuts are harvested prematurely, the hulls remain as stick tights, requiring more energy to dislodge the nuts, which results in damage to limbs in the form of wounds as nuts are harvested by knocking the limbs with long wooden poles. For better recovery of nuts, orchard floor should be clean and polythene sheet or tarpaulin should be spread beneath the tree prior to harvesting. Nuts should be placed in a shady place for dehulling where these can be dried as well.
TOP
 
Chromosome Number: 28
Taxonomic Classification
Class
:
Magnoliopsida
Order
:
Caryophyllales
Family
:
Amaranthaceae
Genus
:
Amaranthus
 
It is popularly known as chaulai, is very nutritive and highly suitable crop for kitchen gardening and commercial cultivation. Rapid growth, quick rejuvenation after each harvesting and high yield of edible matter/unit area in limited time as well as high nutritive value are its important features. It is one of the cheapest leafy vegetables in tropical and subtropical parts of the country. It could be a very valuable source for combating under-nutrition and malnutrition in India.
   
Climate and soil  
Amaranth can be grown on a wide variety of soils. However, sandy loam soil is best-suited for its successful cultivation. Soil should be prepared well by 2–3 repeated ploughings. Amaranth is a C-4 plant which can make efficient use of CO2 and suppresses its photorespiratory loss. The plants also grow better under adverse environmental conditions. They can photosynthesize at high rates even under high temperature. Hence, it is grown successfully in hot summer season and humid conditions of kharif season.
 
Varieties

Important varieties developed through mass selection, polyploidy breeding and hybridization are described below:

Badi Chaulai

It is highly suitable for commercial cultivation. A quick-growing with green leaves this variety is suitable for growing both in summer and kharif seasons in plains. The leaves and stems are bigger in size. The variety is suitable for commercial cultivation.

Chhoti Chaulai

Its plants are erect, thin and dwarf. Leaves are small-sized and green. It is low-yielding and is suitable only for kitchen and container gardening.

Co 1

Its leaves are dark green, broad with ridged surface, stem is round, glossy green and succulent. It yields 100q/ha 30–35 days after sowing. The flowers mature in 90–95 days.

Co 2

Its leaves are long, green and lanceolate. The stem is green, highly suited for tender greens. Its greens become ready for picking 20–25 days after sowing, the yield being 130q/ha. Inflorescence is green, terminal and unbranched with small flower clusters in the leaf axil. It flowers in 40–45 days and matures in 85–90 days.

Co 3

Since it is suitable for periodical cutting, it can be retained for more than 3 months. It becomes ready for picking 20 days after sowing and thereafter at weekly intervals. It yields as high as 300q/ha. Leaves are highly palatable. Unclipped plants flower in 35–40 days and mature 85–90 days after sowing.

Co 5

It is a tetraploid and very vigorous in vegetative growth. It gives very high yield.

Pusa Kiran

Its leaves are glossy green with broad ovate lamina. The lamina is 7–9cm long and 6–7cm wide. The petiole is 5.5–6.5cm long. The stem is glossy green. It is suitable for kharif. It becomes ready for first picking 21–25 days after sowing, the duration of harvest being 70–75 days. It takes 95–100 days to flower and yield is 35 tonnes/ha.

Pusa Lal Chaulai

It is suitable for kitchen gardening as well as for commercial cultivation in northern plains. Since the colour of stems and leaves is bright red (magenta), it is suitable for ornamental purpose also. The red dye extracted from its plants could be used as natural food-additive. The dye can also be used in textile or woollen industry for dyeing. Pusa Lal Chaulai is suitable for growing in both summer and rainy seasons. On an average, it yields 45–50 tonnes/ha.

Pusa Kirti

It is recommended for commercial cultivation in summer season. The leaves of Pusa Kirti are green with broad obvate lamina 6–8cm long and 4–5cm wide. Petiole is 3–4cm long. It is ready for first picking 30–35 days after sowing. Its subsequent cuttings may be taken at 10–12 days intervals, the yield being 50–55 tonnes/ha.

   
Cultivation  

Sowing

Amaranth should be sown during mid-March for summer crop and mid-July for kharif crop. About 1.5–2.0kg seed is enough for a hectare. Since seeds are very small, they should be mixed well with sand and sown in rows at 1cm depth at a spacing of 30cm. After sowing, a light irrigation is essential for ensuring good germination. Seedlings 2–3cm long are thinned out to a spacing of 3–4cm.

Manuring and fertilization

A dose of well-rotten farmyard manure @ 10–25 tonnes/ha should be incorporated at the time of field preparation. Application of 150kg single superphosphate and 80–100kg potassium sulphate/ha is also recommended at the time of land preparation. A dose of 75–90kg/ha of urea should be topdressed in 3 split doses. The first dose should be applied 15–20 days after sowing, whereas second and third after first and second cuttings.

Irrigation

Since amaranth is first grown as a short duration crop, it requires plenty of water for growth and high yield. In summer, frequent irrigation is required at 4–6 days interval. Similarly in kharif, irrigation is scheduled as per the moisture content of the soil.

Interculture

One or two weedings or hoeings are sufficient for controlling weeds. Hoeings between the rows not only check weeds but also reduce the number of irrigations.

Seed production

The agro-techniques for seed production are normally similar to those for leaf production. For seed crop, the plants should be maintained at 30cm × 30cm spacing. The fertilizer schedule of 50kg each of N and P and 30kg K/ha is recommended for better seed yield.

Since it is a cross-pollinated crop, an isolation distance of about 400m is required between 2 cultivars. Generally, the crop used for leaf production is not used for seed production. Rogueing of off-types is highly essential at different stages of crop growth.

Harvesting of seeds starts when the plants turn yellow or deep brown in colour. Drying of inflorescence is practised while the sample seeds contain less than 15% moisture. Seeds are threshed with pliable bamboo sticks and strained through 2mm sieve. Dried seeds with 6% moisture content are stored after treating with Bavistin @ 2g/kg seed.

   
Harvesting & Postharvest management
The young amaranth seedlings grown for commercial purpose are often uprooted when they are 8–10cm tall (3–4 weeks after sowing). The first cutting can be made 3 weeks after sowing. Subsequent cuttings are made at 10–15 days interval depending upon the vegetative growth. As many cuts are made as possible until flowering begins and suitable vegetative material is no longer available. Amaranth grown for seed is not usually harvested for greens. Seed plants are cut when mature and seeds can be rubbed from the inflorescence and then removed by drying and threshing. These seeds may be separated from the chaff with fine screens and if necessary, by winnowing. Yield of gross products (total biomass) varies from 100–500q/ha depending on varieties. The leaves lose water rapidly during storage, particularly at higher temperature resulting in rapid wilting, decrease in chlorophyll, ascorbic acid and soluble protein content and an increase in amino acid content. It can be stored for 6 days at 24°–28°C temperature.
Nutritional Value
 
TOP
 

Ambrette seed or muskdana is a native annual herb. Its seeds possess aroma similar to that emitted by muskpods produced by male musk dear. The seed coat contains an essential oil which essentially is a mixture of farnesol and ambrettolide besides a few other minor aroma-compounds. The crop is cultivated in small pockets all over the subtropical tracts in India. Its aromatic oil is used in perfumery, cosmetics and scents. It imparts musky odour to products like sachets, pan masala and insense-sticks. A large part of seed crop is exported to European countries.

Ambrette is an erect, annual herb covered with hispid hair. It grows up to 2m tall over rich fertile land. Leaves are palmately lobed with long petioles and bear flowers in upper axil of leaves. The petals are yellow with deep purplish spots at the base. It forms fusiform, 5-chambered capsules (like okra) which contain ovoid-reniform musk scented black seeds. The seeds, seed oil and its concrete are traded.

Since it is a hardy plant it grows in a variety of soils in warm, tropical and sub-humid climate. But it prefers well-drained loamy to sandy loam soils of 6–8.5 pH of medium fertility. The crop is raised in kharif season from seed, sown in well-prepared fields. The farmyard manure (5–6 tonnes/ha) is mixed at land preparation. The seed rate is 1.5kg/ha. Seeds are sown in rows 1cm deep by dibling at 40cm × 30cm spacing. Seeds treated with Carbofuran produce high seed yield. The crop is a heavy feeder of fertilizers. A dose of 40, 30 and 30kg of N, P and K is applied basally, whereas 40kg each is given 40 and 90 days after germination. The crop should be kept weed-free. Two weeding-cum-hoeings are recommended. It needs 5–6 irrigations at 20–30 days interval. The moisture in soil at flower- bud opening stage is essential for higher seed yield

If the crop produces heavy vegetative growth, the growing plants may be topped at 60 days age to induce early pod formation. Its plants flower in October and set fruits simultaneous. Ripening of pods starts in November and may continue till March-end. The pods should be plucked at weekly interval when three-fourths of them turn blackish-brown. The pods are covered with itching hairs making its picking rather cumbersome and laborious. These are dried in shade, thrashed through beating with sticks and winnowing to separate husk from the seed. The seeds should also be dried in shade before storing in gunny bags. On an average a seed yield of 1 tonne/ha is obtained.

The seed oil is extracted through solvent extraction which allows an improved recovery of odoriferous principles (over hydro-distillation procedures). The concrete is required to be stored well under low temperature as it is prone to rancidity on keeping. The natural floral note of the concrete is obtained from freshly harvested seeds. The product in very low concentration (200ppm) in deodorised alcohol emits a sweet persistent aroma resembling natural musk. 

   
 
TOP
 
Chromosome Number: 42
Taxonomic Classification
Class
:
Liliopsida
Order
:
Alismatales
Family
:
Araceae
Genus
:
Amorphophallus
 
Amorphophallus or Elephant-foot yam or ‘suran’ or ‘jimmikand’, is gaining popularity because of its yield potential and culinary properties. In India, it is cultivated mainly in Andhra Pradesh, Gujarat, Maharashtra, West Bengal, north-eastern states, Kerala, Bihar and Uttar Pradesh. With the introduction of high-yielding, non-acrid varieties, this is being adopted for commercial cultivation in northern and eastern India. Amorphophallus tubers are rich in nutrients and a delicacy as a food. The tubers are also used as medicine in many Ayurvedic preparations. They are recommended in case of piles, dysentery, asthma, swelling of lungs, vomiting, abdominal pain and as blood purifier. The paste of tubers is applied externally to reduce pain in arthritis.
   
Climate and soil  
Amorphophallus requires warm weather with a temperature of 25°–35°C. Humid conditions favour leaf growth in the beginning, whereas dry weather is favourable for corm development. Well-distributed rainfall of 1,000–1,500mm promotes better growth and tuber yield. Well-drained, fertile, sandy loam soil is best-suited for its cultivation. This crop can also be grown in soils with high clay and silt by planting in pits incorporated with organic matter or compost to make the soil friable and light. Waterlogging is harmful at any stage of crop growth.
 
Varieties

The non-acrid, high-yielding varieties of Amorphophallus are briefly described.

Gajendra

A local high-yielding selection from Kovvur region of Andhra Pradesh, it produces smooth corms, free from daughter corms. The cooking quality is very good and totally free from acridity. This performs very well in eastern and northern India.

Santragachi

It is a medium-yielding cultivar having several rough daughter corms. The flesh is light cream with slight acridity. This is popular in eastern India.

In addition, Am.15 and other lines of this series developed at CTCRI Thiruvanthapuram, perform well in southern India.

   
Propagation
High-yielding, non-acrid varieties should be propagated vegetatively by using either cut tubers or small tubers. For commercial cultivation, whole or cut tubers weighing 500–1,000g are used for planting. Whole tubers should be preferred over cut tubers to minimize rotting. Separate crops should be raised for seed production and commercial cultivation. For seed production, 100–150g tubers are planted which give rise to approximately 500g tubers. In medium-yielding, acrid varieties, daughter corms are used as propagating material. Dipping of planting material in thick cowdung slurry followed by drying in a shaded place is effective in enhancing the sprouting. Amorphophallus tubers have long dormancy period which can be broken by treating them with thiourea (0.1%). GA3 and ethrel are also effective in breaking the dormancy.
   
Cultivation  

Planting

The land should be ploughed 2–3 times to a depth of 20–25cm to make it well-pulverized and friable. The field is levelled. Amorphophallus is recommended to be planted in pits instead of on flat beds because planting in pits with mounds results in better yield. The size of pits and spacing depends on the size of planting material. Planting seed tubers weighing 500g in pits of 35cm × 35cm × 35cm size at a distance of 50cm × 50cm gives better yield and more net profit. In Kerala, pits are dug by maintaining a spacing of 90cm × 90cm when bigger planting material of 1kg size is used. In such cases, the size of pits should be 60cm × 60cm × 60cm. Pit size and spacing can be reduced if smaller-sized planting material is used. For raising the crop for seed purpose using the planting material weighing 100g, the spacing is reduced to 30cm × 30cm. Before planting, the pits should be filled with 1–2kg well-rotten cowdung or compost and top soil collected from 15–20cm deep layer. The planting material is dipped in thick cowdung slurry and dried in shade before planting. Planting is done vertically in the pits usually 10–15cm deep and provided with organic mulch during first 3–4 weeks of growth. Paddy straw is generally used for mulching. Mulching helps reduce soil temperature and conserve soil moisture besides enriching the soil and reducing weeds. February–March is best period for planting the crop for commercial cultivation in eastern India under irrigated conditions. As a rainfed crop it should be done in May–June with the onset of rains. In Kerala, planting is done during February–March with irrigation.

Manuring and fertilization

Well-decomposed farmyard manure or compost is applied @ 25–40 tonnes/ha. In West Bengal and Bihar, a fertilizer dose of 150:60:100 and 150:60:150 kg/ha of N : P : K respectively is ideal for commercial crop. At the time of planting, full dose of P and half of N and K are applied in pits. The remaining dose of N and K is applied around the shoots 35 and 75 days after planting at the time of weeding and earthing-up. In southern states, 80 : 60 : 80kg/ha of N : P : K is economical. In Kerala, topdressing of half dose of N and K is done twice, first 7–10 days after sprouting and second a month afterwards.

First weeding should be done about 5 weeks after planting. Half dose of remaining N and K should be given and earthing-up should be done. The second weeding should be done 75 days after planting and rest of the N and K should be applied followed by earthing-up.

Irrigation

The crop should be irrigated lightly immediately after planting to get uniform sprouting. Subsequent irrigation before monsoon can be given depending on the requirement. Care should be taken to avoid water stagnation in the field. Before harvesting, a shallow irrigation helps in easy digging of corms.

   
Harvesting & Postharvest management

Amorphophallus becomes ready for harvesting 7–8 months after planting. The maturity is indicated by yellowing and drooping of the leaves. The harvesting is generally done in November but it can be harvested earlier also, if there is a demand for vegetables during the off-season. The lower yield due to early harvesting can be compensated by higher market price. If the soil is very hard, a light irrigation may be given before harvesting. Yield of 50–100 tonnes/ha can be obtained depending upon the corm size used for planting and management practices adopted. The crop for seed purpose is generally planted during kharif season under rainfed conditions and is harvested during November when the leaves are completely dried. The yield of seed crop is generally low due to less growth period.

Care should be taken to avoid injury to the tubers at the time of harvesting. After harvesting, the tubers should be spread in a shaded place for 3–4 days for healing of wounds and curing. The soil adhering to the tubers should be totally removed before marketing. The roots attached to the corms should also be removed. The tubers should not be kept in air tight containers while transporting. Baskets or jute bags should be used for packing during transportation. Amorphophallus bears transport hazards due to its thick skin.

   
Physiological Disorders
Water stagnation during crop growth results in tubers that are very hard to cook. Hence, water stagnation should not be allowed at any stage of crop growth.
TOP
 
Chromosome Number: 14
Taxonomic Classification
Class
:
Magnoliopsida
Order
:
Magnoliales
Family
:
Annonaceae
Genus
:
Annona
 

Edible fruits of genus Annona are collectively known as annonaceous fruits. Out of 40 genera of the Annonacae family, genus Annona has 120 species, 6 of them having pomological significance. Annona fruits are syncarpia formed by fusion of pistil and receptacle into a large fleshy aggregate fruit. Annonaceous fruits have morphological affinity for each other but each type is unique in its taste, flavour, pulp colour and texture.

Among annonaceous fruits, custard-apple is the most favourite in India. Its plants come up unattended in parts of Andhra Pradesh, Assam, Bihar, Karnataka, Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, Orissa, Rajasthan and Tamil Nadu as a scrub or hedge plant. Of late, custard apple has gained commercial significance and exclusive orchards are emerging in Andhra Pradesh and Maharashtra.

Other annonas are cultivated on a limited scale. Bullock's heart is more commonly found in south India than in north India. It is usually associated with gardens and compounds and not commercial orchards. Cherimoya is mostly restricted to Assam and hills of south India. Atemoya and sour sop are cultivated in some gardens as miscellaneous fruits. Atemoya, cherimoya and ilama also provide excellent opportunities for a large-scale exploitation in India.

   
Climate and soil  

Most annonaceous fruits are acclimatized to tropical climate. Although custard-apple withstands heat and drought conditions, high atmospheric humidity is necessary during flowering to improve fruit set. But continuous rains during fruit set are not desirable. An annual rainfall of 60–80cm is optimum. It cannot stand frost or a long cold period.

Bullock's heart grows well in humid regions of south India and cannot withstand severe summer. It tolerates frost to some extent. Cherimoya prefers subtropical climate, but it can flourish on higher elevations (2,000m) in tropics. While climatic requirements for atemoya are quite similar to those of custard-apple. Sour-sop in contrast, is a fruit of the humid tropics.

Annonas thrive naturally in rocky terrain with shallow, gravelly, well-drained soils. However, they may grow well in arable, red, sandy shallow soils slightly acidic in reaction. Heavy soils are not suitable, especially in waterlogged areas. In Andhra Pradesh, annonas come up on chalka —red sandy or gravelly soils. They can grow well even on calcareous soils containing lime as high as 50%.

 
Varieties
Custard-apple seedlings are found growing wild in India. Since custard-apple is a cross-pollinated crop, wide variation in forms and sizes of fruit as well as colour of the pulp are available. This natural variability available within the species is often exploited to identify superior gentoypes which are usually named after the place of collection or selection and fruit colour. Depending on external fruit colour, custard-apple is distinguished into green, red and yellow. But green ones are by far more common and popular than the other types. Balanagar, Barbados Seedling, British Guinea, Kakarlapahad, Local Sitaphal, Mahaboobnagar, Saharanpur Local and Washington are some of the varieties with green skin. Most of these varieties are not easily identifiable. Some of the traits that distinguish them are fruit shape and size, form of areoles and number of seeds/fruit. But in fruits of a given tree, these attributes vary considerably as they are largely influenced by pollination and the environment. Thus, the varietal or genetic differences get masked confusing the varietal identification. Moreover, variety-specific pulp qualities are not clearly explained. However, some varieties can be recognized by the plant habit and foliage attributes. Two natural hybrids (mostly between custard-apple and cherimoya), Israeli Selection and Israeli Hybrid, have been introduced. Fruits of both are less seeded. A hybrid Arka Sahan has slow ripening (6–7 days), better shelf-life (2–3 days), less number of seeds (10/100g fruit weight) and high brix (31°). On an average its fruits weigh 210g each. A 6-year-old plant yields 17kg fruits. Other annonas are usually propagated by seeds. There are no well-recognized varieties used for cultivation.
   
Propagation

Most of the annonas are traditionally propagated by seeds. The seed viability lasts for 3–4 years. However, fresh seeds germinate better. Hard seed-coat can be softened either by soaking the seeds in water for 2–3 days or keeping them under running water for 50–70hr. Treating seeds with GA 3 at 500ppm assists germination. Seeds are sown 2cm deep either in nursery beds or in pots under partial shade. Regular watering is necessary to maintain good soil moisture. Seeds are slow to germinate and take 3 weeks. Nevertheless it may extend to as long as 8–10 weeks. When seedlings are 10–12cm tall, they are transferred to pots or plastic bags containing sand and peat or equal parts of garden soil, sand and decomposed farmyard manure. The 30cm tall seedlings become ready for transplanting.

Seed originated plants are not true-to-type, lack precocity and vigour, whereas grafting or budding helps largely to overcome these drawbacks. A. squamosa, A. reticulata, A. cherimola and A. atemoya are grafted or budded on their own species and each other. A. muricata can be grafted on A. reticulata and A. glabra . However, A. reticulata which promotes vigour and shows good graft congeniality is commonly employed as a rootstock for most of the annonas.

Generally, 18-month-old or 30cm tall plants having pencil thickness are selected for grafting. Scion of well-matured wood from which the leaves have dropped at the end of the dormant phase is used to graft either by veneer or cleft technique. Shield or T-budding carried out in spring is also equally effective. Patch and chip budding are other methods. Large buds, about 4cm in length, collected from 1-year-old wood after the leaf drop give good success. The graft should be uncovered once it has taken in order to avoid rots. Since propagation by cuttings and air-layers gives poor results, they are not widely practised. Commercial production of plants through tissue culture is not yet successful. However, multiple shoot production from leaf explants of seedlings and root initiation from shoots are successful.

   
Cultivation  

Planting

Pits of 60cm × 60cm × 60cm size are dug and left open to sun for a week. They are filled with top soil mixed with 25–30kg of well-decomposed farmyard manure. Custard-apple should be transplanted 5m × 5m apart (400 plants/ha). However, setting plants closer may be preferred. Plants spaced at 4m × 4m (625 plants/ha) not only accommodates over 50% additional plants/unit area but promotes better fruit set by improving pollination, a problem in annonas. Due to larger canopy, atemoya and bullock's heart require a plant-to-plant spacing of 6m × 6m and cherimoya and sour-sop 8m × 8m spacing.

Planting should be carried out preferably in spring so that plants establish roots in summer, start growing as the weather warms up and put up vigorous growth during rains. However, if adequate irrigation facilities are lacking, monsoon is the optimum time for planting. To keep the graft-joint well above the ground is a must. As soon as a young tree is planted, it should be irrigated till it establishes.

Pruning

Annonas require little pruning. It is essential to develop a good crown and better yields over a long period of time. Without pruning, the plants become bushy and their bearing efficiency comes down. Hence, timely removal of misplaced limbs is necessary to build a strong framework. Selective and mild pruning of deadwood and very old branches should be carried out to avoid congestion and encourage well-spaced branching. Severe pruning is detrimental for the plant growth. Yellowing of leaves starts as the harvesting season of fruits ends. The leaves begin to drop with the onset of winter and fresh growth occurs in spring. Flowering occurs singly or rarely in small clusters mostly on current season's growth and occasionally on old wood. Training to a single stem is the only option when rootstock is employed.

Manuring and fertilization

Applying manures and fertilizers to custard-apple is not common but its plants respond very well to fertilization, increasing vigour, yield and fruit quality. Fertilizer application checks decline and extends longevity of trees. The area below the crown of trees should be cleaned of weeds. Then apply fertilizers in the basin under the tree but not within 30cm of the trunk. Subsequently it is desirable to irrigate the trees and incorporate the fertilizers. Fertilizer application should coincide with rapid vegetative growth and fruit development. As fruits are borne on new as well as old wood, application of slightly higher dose of N is not harmful. There is a lack of information on fertilizer application to other annonas species but they can be enefited by following the doses recommended for custard-apple.

Aftercare

After planting, the young plants must be watered and supported by stakes to keep them erect. To start with a 60cm × 60cm basin around the plant is adequate. Regular watering during dry periods, occasional hand digging of the basins to check weeds, to keep the soil loose, attending plant-protection measures, manuring, removing of sprouts on stock and building up of a good framework are necessary cultural operations. The basins around the plant should be enlarged as the plants grow bigger. They should be made little larger than the spread of the plant.

In young orchards, a lot of land remains vacant between the rows for 4–5 years. Hence, short-duration vegetables—tomato, onion, chilli, okra, brinjal, radish or cowpea, greengram, horsegram, or any green manure crop—can be intercropped. These crops should not be raised too near the tree, lest they compete with them for nutrients.

Irrigation

Most of the annonas produce a moderate crop even in the absence of irrigation. Irrigating plants at least during flowering and fruit development is essential. Fruit quality is superior in irrigated plants with more edible pulp/ segment. Plants receiving regular water grow luxuriantly with each bearing. Pruning, fertilization and irrigation are quite essential to get maximum yield.

In regions having limiting water, pitcher, trickle or drip irrigation systems help in judicious use of water. Fruits are raised as rainfed in low rainfall areas land shaping to divert rain water near the plantation may be taken up. Contour terraces, contour bunds and micro-catchments also help in efficient water use. Even ploughing of the plantation during rainy season helps better conservation of moisture. Custard-apple plants especially in neglected areas are benefited from these operations.

   
Harvesting & Postharvest management

Custard-apple starts bearing fruits at the age of 4–5 years. It declines by about 15th year depending upon the maintenance. Custard-apple produces single crop in a year during August–October in south India and September–November in north India. On maturing, fruits turn light green. The inter-areolar space widens, the fruits turn creamy-white. Custard-apples are harvested manually when they are fully mature but still firm. If they are left for a longer time on trees, they split open and are spoiled. About 4–5 pickings are required. Occurrence of deformed fruits is due to carpels with unfertilized areoles failing to grow. Fruit yield varies widely from tree-to-tree. Normally a 7-year-old tree produces 100–150 fruits, the total yield being 7 tonnes/ha.

Bullock's heart and cherimoya are ready for harvesting during January–February and December–January, yielding 50–75 fruits/plant. Since both have thick stalks, it is necessary to harvest them with the stalks using secateurs. Atemoyas are somewhat early (September–October) and are shy-bearer. Higher yield (50–60 fruits) may be obtained with hand-pollination. Sour-sop, the largest annona, produces about 25 fruits/tree during June–August in south India.

Annonas are climacteric fruits. Custard-apple takes about 3 days to ripen, while others 4–7 days. Prior to ripening the pulp of matured custard-apple is not separated into segments or flakes. It is only during conversion of starch to sugar this differentiation occurs. In ripe fruits of bullock's heart and cherimoya the pulp is more or less homogeneous mass of closely cohering carpels which cannot be separated easily.

Ripe fruits of custard-apple and sour-sop are very fragile and with the slightest pressure, the fruits easily get disintegrated into segments. Hence extra care is necessary while handling. Ripe custard-apples can be stored for about 2 days, but other annonas can be stored for 3–4 days. This may be partly due to the characteristic feature of the rind. In bullock's heart and cherimoya, the carpels are not associated with external areolar divisions on the rind and the surface appears to be contiguous or almost fused unlike that in custard-apple. Thus the fruits do not split easily along the deep furrows between the interareolar spaces, the weakest portions of the rind.

Custard-apple, atemoya, bullock's heart and cherimoya are normally used as fresh fruits. Ripe fruits are popular among the poor. The unripe fruits of custard-apple are eaten in Andhra Pradesh after baking or roasting. The raw fruits of sour-sop are commonly used to prepare soup or vegetable.

The pulp of custard-apple mixed with milk is made into a delightful drink or ice-cream. Development of a repulsive off-flavour on heating beyond 65°C and presence of gritty cells are major constraints in processing custard-apple. But its juice is a potential ingredient to prepare squash, syrup, nectar and a fermented alcoholic beverage. Jam, jelly, conserves and tarts can also be prepared from the pulp of custard-apple. It is also possible to can the pulp. The sweetish sour flesh of sour-sop is fibrous, juicy with pleasant aroma and is amenable for preparation of ice-cream, sherbat and syrup.

   
Physiological Disorders
With the end of harvesting season, the leaves of custard-apple turn yellow and with the onset of winter, leaves fall down. New growth commences in spring after passing a dormant phase in winter. But in certain neglected plants or those under severe moisture or nutritional stress, the dormancy sets well in advance and some fruits turn brown, become quite hard and without further growth remain on tree for months even in the following season. Such fruits are referred to as ‘stone fruits’. This disorder can be corrected by practising clean cultivation, manuring, timely irrigation and application of superphosphate and bone-meal. If plants are well attended, they flower in time and their fruits mature before the plants enter dormancy without stone formation. Sometimes, very young fruits turn black, become hard and stop further development. This mummification of fruits appears to be a natural thinning mechanism, especially during periods of drought. Tree decline caused by water stagnation is another problem. Such trees shrivel and drying of old branches takes place and they die suddenly. Stagnation of water during heavy rains should be avoided.
TOP
 

Annual flowers are a group of herbaceous plants which grow from seeds, produce flowers, set seeds and complete their life-cycle within one year or one season. But in their brief sojourn on earth, they exude the joy of life, putting forth a great profusion of flowers in a spectacular range of colours. They provide a beautiful display of colours in the garden. Therefore, more people prefer annuals to other plants for growing in pots, beds, borders, window boxes, hanging baskets or as cut flower for interior decoration. Whether it is a small home garden or a big public garden, it is incomplete without beds of annual flowers. They enhance the decorative value of a garden within a short span of time. At their blooming time, one feels elated when a rain of beauty drizzles in the garden.
Flowering annuals are grown in beds and pots. They are used for various purposes in the garden. In beds, they are grown individually with or without perennial plants in borders. They are grown in hanging baskets, window boxes or rock gardens, for training on walls and trellises and for planting in the form of edges, borders or ground covers. Some annuals—marigold, china aster, gypsophila, statice, gaillardia, annual carnation, annual chrysanthemum, cornflower, sweet sultan, bells-of-Ireland, piminella and larkspur—are grown commercially for cut flowers for interior decoration or for loose flower purpose in Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, Maharashtra, West Bengal, Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan, Haryana, Madhya Pradesh, Tamil Nadu and Delhi. Dried flowers of some annuals are also used for interior decoration. Some annuals provide sweet fragrance.

Based on season, the annual flowers are divided into 3 groups—winter season, summer season and rainy season.

Winter season annuals

This group includes a large number of seasonal flowers. The important ones are acroclinium, agrostemma, amaranthus, anchusa, annual carnation, annual chrysanthemum, antirrhinum, arctotis, bells-of-Ireland, brachycome, calceolaria, calendula, campanula, candytuft, celosia, China aster, cineraria, clarkia, cornflower, daisy, delphinium, dianthus, dimorphotheca, echium, eschscholzia, gazania, godetia, helichrysum, helipterum, hollyhock, gypsophila, limonium, linaria, linum, lupin, marigold, matricaria, mesembryanthemum, mignonette, mimulus, myosotis, nasturtium, nemesia, nicotiana, nemophila, nigella, pansy, petunia, phlox, pimpinella, poppy, rudbeckia, salvia, saponaria, scabiosa, schizanthus, senecio, stock, sweet alyssum, sweet pea, sweet sultan, sweet william, venidium, verbena, viola and wall flower.

Summer season annuals

The common summer season annuals are coreopsis, cosmos, gaillardia, kochia, marigold, portulaca, sunflower, tithonia, zinnia etc.

Rainy season annuals

This group includes all summer season annuals and others like amaranthus, balsam, celosia, gomphrena and torenia.

   
Climate and soil  

The annual flowers are grown successfully in all parts of the country. In north Indian plains, winter season annuals are grown during winter, while summer and rainy ones during summer and rainy seasons respectively. In northern hills, all annual flowers are grown during summer season. Under warmer climate of south India, where there is no distinct winter, common winter annuals, i.e. carnation, sweet pea, antirrhinum, pansy, viola etc. do not grow well. In the milder climate, particularly in Bangalore and Pune, almost all types of annuals can be grown.

Annuals thrive best in well-drained, sandy loam soil rich in organic matter. The soil should be neither too acidic nor too alkaline. The soil pH should be between 6.0 and 7.5. In acidic soils, lime should be added for making it neutral. In clay soil, organic matter is added to make it porous. In sandy soils, add sufficient organic matter for improving its texture.

 
Varieties

In seasonal flowers, most of the varieties being grown in the country are introductions from foreign countries. Very little work has been done in India in respect of the development of new varieties in annual flowers. However, some efforts have been made by various institutions for the development of new varieties in some of the seasonal flowers. Therefore, both exotic and Indian bred varieties in different annual flowers listed below:

Acroclinium

Goliath, Albo, Rose, Rose and White, F1 hybrids: White Hawaii, Blue Hawaii and Royal Hawaii.

Ageratum

Blue Marie, Midget Blue, Fairy Pink, Blue Perfection, Blue Denube, Summer Snow, Blue Bedder, Blue Monk, F1 hybrids: Blue Blazer and Summer Sky.

Amaranthus

Molten Fire, Flame, Flaming Fountain, Pygmy Torch and Red Fox.

Indian varieties: Amar Shola, Amar Kiran, Amar Masaic, Amar Poet, Amar Parvati, Amar Prithvi, Amar Raktabh, Amar Suikiran and Amar Tirang.

Anchusa

Blue Bird, Bedding Bright Blue, Dropmore, Morning Glory, Pride of Dover and Royal Blue.

Antirrhinum

Magic Carpet, Tom Thumb, Glacier, High Noon, Rosabel, Volcano, Cavalier, Guardsman, Commander, Sunlight, Temple, White Spire, Tinker Bell, Juliana, Maximum Orchid, Maximum Scarlet and Maximum Yellow.

F1 Hybrids: Supreme Vanguard, High Life, Super Jet, Venus, Princess Yellow with Red Eye, Princess Crimson, Princess Scarlet, Royal Carpet Crimson, Royal Carpet Orange, Golden Dragon, Rose Dragon, White Dragon, Rocket Bronze, Rocket Lemon, Rocket Pink, Rocket Red and Rocket White.

Arctotis

Sutton's Triumph

Balsam

Double Camellia Flowered, Rose Flowered, Royal Balsam, Tall Double, Dwarf Bush Flowered and Tom Thumb.

F1 Hybrids: Accent, Blitz, Super Elfin and Minette.

Calendula

Gold Star, Yashima, Muraji, Pacific Beauty, Golden Gem, Orange Gem, Lemon Gem, Chrysantha, Orange King, Cream Beauty, Gold Fink, Radio, Crested, Yellow Colossal, Golden Emperor, Lemon Coronet and Orange Coronet.

Candytuft

Improved White Spiral, Iceberg, Empress, Giant Hyacinth Flowered, Sampervirens White and White Pinnacle.

Carnation ( annual )

Enfant de Nice, Madonna, Snow Clove, King Cup, Picotee Fascination, Apricot Bizarre, Cherry Flake, Scarlet Flake, Aurora, Nero, Orange Sherbet, Princess Alice, Margaret, Marguerite, Malmaison, Riviera Giants, Chabaud, Scarlet Luminette and Pixie Delight.

Celosia

Floradale, Fancy Plume, Red Fox, Fairy Fountains, Apricot Brandy, Forest Fire Improved, Fire Glow, Golden Feather, Pampas Plume, Magnifica, Golden Feather, Silver Feather, Lilliput, Jewel Box and Empress.

China Aster

Pot'n Patio Blue, Pot'n Patio Pink, Giant Massagno, Comet, Totem Pole, Benihanabi, White Kurenai, Ariake Pompon, American Beauty, Queen of the Market, Crego Azure, Crego, Ostrich Plume, Pompon, Invincible, Early Bird, Blue Wonder, Cactus Flowered, Giants of California, Bouquet Powderpuff, Bouquet Mid Blue, Bouquet White and Azure Blue.

Indian Varieties: Poornima, Violet Cushion, Kamini, Phule Ganesh White Shashank, Phule Ganesh Violet, Phule Ganesh Pink, Phule Ganesh Purple.

Chrysanthemum ( annual )

Chrysanthemum segetum : Morning Star, Evening Star, Eastern Star, Blanca, Eldorado, Gloria, Isabel, Romeo, and yellow Stone.

C. coronarium: Nivea, Oreon, Albo, Golden Crown, Luteum, Tom Thumb Golden Gem, Tom Thumb-Primrose Gem and Tetra Comet.

C. carinatum: Merry, Atrococcineum, Burridgeanum, Eclipse, Flammenspiel, John Bright and Northern Star.

Cineraria

Gold Center, Hansa Dwarf, Stellata Single, Nana Compacta, Early Favourite, Master, Maxima Grandiflora, Maxima Nana, Nana Multiflora and Copenhagen Market.

Clarkia

Alba, Apple Blossom, Brilliant, Chamois, Enchantress, Fire Brand, Lilac, Lady Satin Rose, Royal Bouquet, Salmon Queen, Scarlet Queen and Brilliant Rose.

Coreopsis

Sunburst, Early Sunrise and Sunbeam.

Indian variety: Pusa Tara.

Cornflower

Emperor William, Blue Boy, Pinkie, Red Boy, Snowman, Jubilee Gem, Polka Dot, Frosted Queen and Little Boy.

Cosmos

Cosmos bipinnatus: Purity, Dazzler, Gloria, Pink Sensation, Radiance and Versailles.

Indian variety: Alipore Beauty.

C. sulphureus: Fiesta, Orange Flare, Orange Ruffle and Mandarin.

Daisy

Liliput, Longfellow, Snowball, Vesuv, Chevreuse, Monstrosa, Aetna, Ruby, Super Enorma and Pomponett.

Dianthus

Pink Flesh, Snow Storm, Fire Storm, Oriental Carpet, Blue Peter, Salmon Queen, Red Bedder, Miss Miwako, New Mikado, Scarlet Queen, Rich Crimson, Cyclops, Bravo, Black Prince, Diadem, Fireball, Pink Beauty, Salmon King, Snowdrift, Snowball, Magic Charm Hybrid and Sunfire Hybrid.

Dimorphotheca

Orange Glory, Orange Improved, Salmon Beauty, Buff Beauty, White Beauty and Goliath.

Eschscholzia

Aurora, Carmine King, Crocea, Mandarin, Mikado, Red Chief, Flame, Fireglow, Aurantiaca, Dazzler, Gleaming, Golden West, Carmine Queen, Sutton's Flame and Ivory White.

Gaillardia

Indian Chief, Lollypop Yellow, Lollypop Orange, Sunshine Strain, Gaity Double, Double Tetra Fiesta, Bremen, Burgundy, Dazzler, Goblin, Regalis, Monarch Strain and Sanguinea.

Garden Poppy

Shirley, Sweet Briar and American Legion.

Gazania

Minister, Sunshine and Carnival Hybrids.

Godetia

Monarch, Crimson Glow, Duchess of Albany, Duke of York, Gloriosa, Top Flowering Crimson, Top Flowering Salmon, Lady Satin Rose, Orange Glory, Salmon Princess, Cherry Red, Bright Carmine and Lavender Gem.

Gomphrena

Lilliput Buddy, Dwarf Buddy Purple, Cissy and Dwarf White.

Gypsophila

Single White, Double White, Early Snowball, Pacifica, Repens Rosea and Covent Garden White.

Helichrysum

Fireball, Luteum, Ferrugineum Monstrosum, Borussorum Rex, Purpureum, Roseum, Tall Double and Dwarf Double.

Hollyhock

Double Triumph, Carter's Double, Summer Carnival, Giant Double Powderpuff, Carter's Double Hybrids Samperflorens and Fordhook Giant.

Indian varieties: Deepika, Dulhan, Gauri, Pusa Hollyhock Sweta, Pusa Hollyhock Krishna, Pusa Hollyhock Lalima and Pusa Hollyhock Gulabi.

Indian F1 Hybrids: Pusa Apricot Supreme, Pusa Pastel Pink Supreme, Pusa Pink Beauty and Pusa Yellow Beauty.

Larkspur

Blue Bell, Blue Spire, Lilac Spire, Carmine King, Dazzler, Exquisite Rose, Lilac Improved, Los Angeles, Miss California, Rosamond, White King, Regal, Elite and Flamengo.

Limonium

Art Shades, Pastel Shades, Midnight Blue, Gold Coast, Atrocoerulea, Candissima, Chamois Rose, Rosea, Snow Queen, Market Grower's Blue, Purple Monarch, Heavenly Blue, Fast Blue, Market Rose, Iceberg and Apricot Beauty.

Linaria

Excelsior, Northern Lights and Fairy Bouquet.

Lupin

Albus, Coelestinus, Roseus, Giant King, Texanus, Dark Blue, Azure Blue and Pixie Delight.

Marigold

African marigold (Tagetes erecta): Snowbird, Sugar and Spice, Burpee's First White, Burpee's Giant Fluffy, Sunset Giant, Pineapple Crush Improved, Pumpkin Crush Improved, Guys and Dolls, Sweet'n Yellow, Sweet'n Gold, Odourless, Orange Hawaii, Cracker Jack, Cupid, Golden Age, Mr. Moonlight, Spun Gold, Spun Yellow, Yellow Fluffy, Yellow Stone, Sutton's Double Orange and Sutton Double Yellow.

F 1 hybrids: Beauty Gold, Beauty Orange, Beauty Yellow, Tresbien Orange, Tresbien Yellow, Royal Yellow, Royal Orange, Royal Gold, First Lady, Primrose Lady, Deep Orange Lady, Gold Lady, Toreador, Golden Climax Improved, Yellow Climax, Inca Orange, Inca Yellow, Inca Gold, Apollo Moonshot, Gold Galore, Yellow Galore, Golden Jubilee, Orange Jubilee and Diamond Jubilee.

French marigold ( T. patula ): Red Pygmy, Happy Orange, Happy Yellow, Queen Sophia, Orange Sophia, Honey Sophia, Scarlet Sophia, Goldie, Bolero, Dainty Marietta, Honeycomb, Golden Boy, Harmony Boy, Orange Boy, Spry Boy, Yellow Boy, Bonanza Flame, Bonanza Orange, Gold Finch, King Tut, Star Dust, Carmen, Fiesta, Red Cherry, Lemon Drop, Petite Gold, Petite Spry and Petite Yellow.

Indian varieties: Pusa Narangi Gainda and Pusa Basanti Gainda.

Matricaria

Golden Ball, Silver Ball, Tom Thumb, Ball's White, Bridal Robe, Snow Ball and Double White.

Mignonette

Red Goliath, Golden Goliath, Crimson Giant, Machet, Conqueror and Common Sweet Scented.

Myosotis

Blue Ball, Basket Ball, Gigantea, ‘Luzzia' Messidor, Victoria, Empress and Esther.

Nasturtium

Semi Double Tall Gleam and Double Dwarf Jewel.

Nemesia

Suttonii, Carnival, Triumph, Orange Prince, Fire Ball, Hybrid Blue, Hybrid Aurora and Hybrid Mixed.

Nicotiana

Sensation Mixed, Day Light, Crimson Bedder, White Bedder, Miniature White, Dwarf Pink, Dwarf Red, Dwarf Rose, Dwarf White and Dwarf Yellow.

F 1 Hybrids: Nicki Pink, Nicki Red, Nicki Yellow and Nicki White.

Nigella

Miss Jekyll and Oxford Blue.

Pansy

Super Swiss Giants, Masterpiece, Super French Giant, Engelman's Giant, Elli's Oregon Giants, Thor Giants, Tropez Mixed, Colour Festival Mixed, Apenglow, Berna, Coronation Gold, Lake of Thun, Mont Blanc, Rhine Gold, Super Beacon, Trimardeau Mixed, Purple Queen, Yellow Queen and Black Prince.

F 1 Hybrids: Gold Bedder, Red Bedder, Purple Bedder, Rose Bedder, White Bedder, Crystal Bowl Mixed, Imperial Blue, Orange Prince, Felix, Queen Alexandrine, Clear Crystal, Imperial Blue, Imperial Gold, Imperial Ocean, Imperial Orange, Imperial Pink Shades, Imperial Purple, Imperial Red, Imperial Silver Blue, Imperial Yellow, Deep Blue Clean, Light Blue Clean, Orange Clean, Scarlet Clean, White Clean, Yellow Clean, Gold Bedder, Red Bedder, Purple Bedder and White Bedder.

Petunia

Fluffy Ruffles Mixed, Burpee's Royalty, Royalty, Crown Jewels Mixed, Blue Bird, Cream Star, Peach Red, Rosy Morn, Snowball, Fire Chief, Lady Bird, Bingo, Dazzler, Purple Prince, Giants of California, Fringed Snowstorm, Super Frills, Ramona, Popcorn.

Multiflora F 1 Hybrids (Single): Summer Sun, White Joy, Pink Joy, Comanche, Red Joy Improved, Purple Plum, Sugar Plum, Star Joy, Humming Blue, Humming Rose, Humming Scarlet, Humming Violet, Humming White, Glitters, Coral Satin, Satellite, Silver Medal and Polaris.

Multiflora F 1 Hybrids (double): Delight Mixed, Apple Tart, Cherry Tart and Bonanza Mixed.

Grandiflora F 1 Hybrids (Single): Apple Blossom, Blue Lace, Cherry Blossom, Calypso, Chiffon Cascade, E1 Toro, Maytime, Supercascade Red, Supercascade White, Supermagic Pink, Fantasy Blue, Fantasy Red and White, Fantasy Rose, Fantasy Salmon, Fantasy Scarlet, Fantasy Violet Blue, Fantasy White, Supermagic Red, Yellow Magic, Blue Flash, Pink Flash, Red Flash, Velvet Flash, White Flair, Blue Frost, Glacier and Snow Cloud.

Grandiflora F 1 Hybrid (double): Blue Danube, Caprice, Duet, Presto, Rhapsody, Sonata, Valentine, Purple Pirouette, Bridal Bouquet, Circus, Nocturne Improved and Salmon Bouquet.

Phlox

Twinkle, Fordhook Mixed, Art Shades, Alba, Atropurpurea, Brilliant, Coccinea, Snowball, Vermilion, Violacea, Globe Beauty, Globe Mixed, Glamour, Tetra Red and Giant Tetra Mixed.

Portulaca

Magic Carpet, Sunnyside, Double Red and Jewel.

Primula

Glory of Riverside, Mrs. Eriksson, White Giant, Fancy, Fatima, Gratulation, Dr. Bohnert, Purple King, Rosita, Samba, Gigantea and Regent Brigid.

Rudbeckia

Pink Wheel, Golden Daisy, Autumn Frost, Goldflamme, Mein Freund, Kelvedon Star, Starlight, Double Daisy and Giant Gloriosa Daisy.

Salvia

Hot Jazz, Salmon Pygmy, Pirate, Early Bonfire, Red Pillar, Sutton's Fireball, Hussar, Carabiniere Scarlet, Panorma, America, St. John's Fire, Fire Dwarf, Blaze of Fire, Scarlet Pygmy, Harbinger, Scarlet Queen, Gaity, Scarlet Piccola and Violet Queen.

Scabiosa

Giant Imperial Hybrids, Black Night, Blue Moon, Bridesmaid, Coral Moon, Loveliness, Oxford Blue, Silver Moon, Heavenly Blue and Peace.

Schizanthus

Angel Wings, Excelsior, Monarch, Butterfly Giants, Giant Hybrids, Crimson Cardinal, Brilliance, Cattleya Orchid, Dr. Badger's Mixed, Dwarf Banquet and Pansy Flowered.

Stock

Column (non-branching): Snow Wonder, White Wonder, X-mas Blue, X-mas Ocean, X-mas Pink, X-mas Rouge, X-mas Snow, Giant Excelsior Column, Giant Column, Giant Rocket and Miracle Column.

Branching: Dwarf Ten Week, Giant Perfection Ten Week, Early Giant Imperial, Beauty of Nice and Trisomic Seven Week.

Sunflower

Sutton's Autumn Beauty, Italian White, Mammoth, Sun Gold, Sutton's Red, Sutton's Double Orange, Sunburst, The Sun, Pygmy Dwarf, Tall Sungold and Daisetsuzan.

Sweet Alyssum

Oriental Night, Little Gem, Lilac Queen, Royal Carpet, Snow Carpet, Tetra Snowdrift, Rosie O' Day, Pink Heather, Violet Queen and Snow Cloth.

Sweet Pea

Grandiflora, Countess Spencer, Cuthbertson, Giant Frilled, Late Flowering Spencer, Early Flowering Frilled, Cuthbertson Frilled, Multiflora, Dwarf Cupid and Dwarf Cupid Giant Frilled.

Sweet Sultan

Alba, Favourita, Graceosa, Splendens, Suaveolens and Odorata.

Sweet William

Albus, Copper Red, Crimson Beauty, Diadem, Nigrescens, Oculatus, Marginatus, Black Beauty, Giant White, Pink Beauty, Scented Beauty, Holborn Glory, Scarlet Glory, Homeland, White Giant, Kurukawa and Ishii Red.

Venidium

Cheerful Orange and Cheerful White.

Viola

Monarch Mixed, Helen Mount, Cuty, Pretty, Blue Carpet, Maroon Picotee, White Perfection, Yellow Charm, Johny Jump up and King Henry.

Wall Flower

Giant Fire King, Cloth of Gold, Dresden Forcing, Fire King, Giant Brown, Golden Bedder, Goliath Forcing, Hamlet, Othello, Paris, Scarlet Emperor, Vulcan, Tom Thumb and Purple Queen.

Zinnia

Canary Bird, Dream, Exquisite, Polar Bear, Scarlet Flame, Cactus Mixed, Golden Ball, Kumamto Scarlet, Salmon Beauty, White Ball, Candy Cane, Whirligig, Lilliput, Burpee's Tetra, Ruffled Jumbo, Pulcino, Burpeana Giant, Button Box, Envy, State Fair and Burpee's New Gigantea, New Gigantea.

F 1 hybrids: Cherry Sun, Gold Sun, Red Sun, Silver Sun, Dreamland Coral, Dreamland Ivory, Dreamland Scarlet, Dreamland Yellow, Fairyland Gold, Fairyland Scarlet, Sunrise Red, Sunrise Yellow, Summer Dress Scarlet, Border Beauty Yellow, Border Beauty Rose, Firecracker, Rosy Future, Torch, Yellow Zenith, Burpee's Bouquet Hybrid and Peter Pan.

   
Cultivation  

Planting

Their seedlings are transplanted 25 days after sowing at 4-leaf stage. Before transplanting, seedlings are hardened off by withholding water for 1 or 2 days or by exposing them gradually to sunlight. Transplanting is, generally, done either on a cloudy day or in the evening. Transplanting in evening is good as the night cool temperature is beneficial for the establishment. Light watering every day in early morning or late in the afternoon is required for about a week for proper establishment of the seedlings.

Dwarf annuals like acroclinium, ageratum, sweet alyssum, arctotis, daisy, brachycome, cacalia, calceolaria, campanula, wallflower, cuphea, cynoglossum, dianthus, echium, eschscholzia, felicia, gaillardia, gazania, godetia, candytuft, linaria, linum, lobelia, matricaria, stock, mesembryanthemum, mimulus, nemesia, nemophila, nierembergia, pansy, petunia, phacelia, phlox, portulaca, mignonette, salpiglossis, scabiosa, French marigold, torenia, nasturtium, venidium, verbena and viola should be planted at a distance of 30cm × 30cm, whereas medium-tall annuals—agrostemma, amaranthus, anchusa, antirrhinum, calendula, celosia, sweet sultan, cornflower, cineraria, clarkia, coreopsis, cosmos, larkspur, carnation, digitalis, dimorphotheca, gomphrena, gypsophila, balsam, kochia, limonium, lupin, bells-of-Ireland, nicotiana, nigella, garden poppy, rudbeckia, salvia, schizanthus and African marigold—should be planted at a spacing of 45cm × 45cm. The plants of tall annuals—hollyhock, chrysanthemum, sunflower, helichrysum, heliotrope, pimpinella and zinnia—should be planted 60cm apart.

Manuring and fertilization

The farmyard manure or compost @ 3kg/m 2 is mixed in the soil. Chemical fertilizers—20g urea, 60–120g superphosphate and 30–60g muriate of potash/m2 should also be added. Half quantity of urea and full of superphosphate and muriate of potash should be applied at the time of bed preparation. The remaining quantity of urea must be applied one month after transplantation. Spraying plants with 2% urea twice or thrice is beneficial for good growth and flowering. Fertilizers should never come in the direct contact of the foliage since they cause scorching. Fertilizers should never be applied in the pot-grown annual flowers. However, some readymade pot-mixtures can be used. The pot-mixture should consist of 2 parts of garden soil and one part each of coarse sand and farmyard manure. Instead of fertilizers, it is better if pot-grown plants are given liquid feeding. The liquid manure is prepared by fermenting 1–2kg each of fresh cowdung and oil cake in 10 litres of water in a drum for one week. It is diluted to tea colour and sieved with the help of a muslin cloth. It is applied @ 500–1000ml/ pot at 7–10 days intervals.

For African marigold, a fertilizer dose of 400kg each of N and P 2 O 4 /ha is recommended for Ludhiana (Punjab). For Kalyani (West Bengal), a dose of 400kg N and 200kg P 2 O 5 /ha is good for flower and seed yield. A fertilizer mixture consisting of 90kg N, 20kg P 2 O 5 and 20kg K 2 O/ha is recommended for African marigold under Nagpur (Maharashtra), in China aster, a dose of 180kg N and 120kg P 2 O 5 /ha is most-suited for Bangalore (Karnataka). In gomphrena, a dose of 300kg N, 100kg P 2 O 5 and 100kg K 2 O/ha is best for flower yield for Jammu and Kashmir, whereas for Bapatala (Andhra Pradesh), a dose of 60kg N and 90kg P 2 O 5 /ha is ideal for higher flower yield. In carnation, a dose consisting of 200kg N, 100kg P 2 O 5 and 200kg K 2 O/ha is best for higher flower yield for Kalyani, while for Ludhiana a dose of 400kg N and 100kg P 2 O 5 is ideal.

Growth and flowering

Environmental factors and various cultural conditions affect growth and flowering of many annuals. The Cosmos bipinnatus, Nicotiana sp. and Callistephus chinensis are typical short-day plants for both vegetative growth and flowering, while Dianthus barbatus and Nigella damascena are typical long-day plants for vegetative growth as well as flowering. On the other hand, some annuals require long days for flower initiation followed by short days for flower development. An imbalance of N either hastens or delays flowering. Clarkia, candytuft and salvia flower prematurely if the soil is deficient in N. If N level is high in soil, sunflower, lupin, flowering tobacco and African marigold flower prematurely.

Growth ratarding or promoting substances play a major role in getting dwarf plants or higher flower yield. Growth retarding chemicals—CCC (1,000–2,000ppm), B-Nine (2,000–5,000ppm) and SADH (1,000–3,000ppm)—are used to control growth and flowering in hollyhock, arctotis, sweet sultan, coreopsis, cosmos, phlox and pansy. These chemicals retard plant height, produce more number of leaves and branches and improve flowering, Similarly, GA 3 (100–400ppm) gives beneficial results in respect of growth and flowering in African marigold, China aster and antirrhinum. Application of these growth substances is more effective at vegetative stage.

Aftercare

After transplanting, beds are weeded, hoed and watered regularly. As soon as seedlings are established in beds, pinching is done for making the plants bushy. Pinching is not practised in antirrhinum, larkspur, lupin, stock and hollyhock. Sweet pea, carnation, morning glory and nasturtium, have weak, slender or straggling stems. They need support when they are 15–20cm tall. The stakes prepared from split bamboos are painted green so that they can be matched with the foliage colour of the plants. Sometimes, seedlings of carnation, marigold, China aster, cosmos and zinnia produce flower buds at an early stage. These buds should be removed as soon as they appear. The number of buds/ stem is reduced by disbudding the axillary buds, if large blooms are desired.

Irrigation

Little water is needed everyday up to 7–10 days after transplantation. When the seedlings start new growth, profuse watering once or twice a week is required in beds. Later, frequency and quantity of watering depend upon soil and season. In lighter soils, more frequent irrigation is needed than that in heavy soils. The season of planting also determines the frequency of irrigation. During summer season, irrigation should be done at weekly intervals in beds, while at 10–12 days intervals in winters. Irrigation during rainy season depends upon prevailing weather conditions. Potted plants need daily watering during summer, whereas on alternate days in winter.

   
Harvesting & Postharvest management

Most of the annual flowers are grown for garden display purpose in various ways. However, marigold, China aster, antirrhinum, gypsophila, statice, gaillardia, annual carnation, annual chrysanthemum, cornflower and bells-of-Ireland are grown commercially for cut flower or loose flower purpose. Their flowers are harvested when they are fully open and are sold in the local markets. Antirrhinums are cut when one-third of the florets are open. China aster flowers are cut along with their stems when they develop their original colour. Marigold flowers are harvested when they are fully open. Gypsophila flowers are cut when these are open, but not overmature. The flowers, in general, are cut either late in the afternoon or very early in the morning. After harvesting, cut flowers should be put in a bucket of water filled up to one-fourth of the volume as it helps in their recovery from the shock of being cut away from the plant. As far as possible, the freshly opened flowers should be cut as freshness enhances their shelf-life.

In African marigolds, yield of 20–22 tonnes of fresh flowers is obtained from one hectare crop, whereas in French marigolds 10–12 tonnes/ha of fresh flowers is obtained. China aster gives the yield of 10–12 tonnes/ha of fresh flowers.

Some annuals are used as cut flowers. Therefore, proper postharvest management is necessary for prolonging their vase-life. The flowers are graded according to stem length, flower size, flower shape, flower colour and freshness. The cut flowers/loose flowers of most of the annuals are marketed in local markets. However, cut flowers of gypsophila, bells-of-Ireland and limonium are traded in the international market.

Woody-stemmed flowers should have their stems split or crushed to enlarge the surface in contact with water. Remove all foliage from stems which are under water otherwise they decay and clog up the xylem vassels of stem. It is better to cut stems diagonally because it exposes more surface to water.

If flowers are not sold the day they are harvested, to store them in a cold storage is imperative. Antirrhinum flowers can be stored for short duration at a temperature –0.6°C to 1.7°C. For storing stock cut flowers, 4°C temperature is optimum. Gypsophila flowers can be stored for 1–2 days at 4°C. Statice cut flowers can be stored for 2–3 weeks at 2°C. A temperature of 0°–2°C is suitable for the storage of cut carnations.

Various formulations are used to prolong the vase-life of cut flowers. In antirrhinum, a solution containing 300ppm of 8-HQC and 1.5% sucrose is most-suited to enhance their vase-life. In China aster, a preservative containing 60g/litre sucrose + 250mg/litre 8-HQS + 70mg/litre CCC + 50mg/litre AgNO 3 extends their vase-life. For stock, a preservative containing 0.3g 8-HQC + 0.05g CCC + 50g sucrose/litre is ideal. A solution containing 25ppm AgNO 3 and 5–10% sugar produces largest blooms with longest vase-life of cut gypsophila. Vase-life of cut carnations can be increased by placing them in solution containing 10% sucrose + 200ppm 8-HQC. 

TOP
 
Chromosome Number: 30
Taxonomic Classification
Class
:
Liliopsida
Order
:
Alismatales
Family
:
Araceae
Genus
:
Anthurium
 
Anthurium assumes significant position on account of its beauty. It is grown for its showy cut flowers and attractive foliage. These are very popular with flower arrangers because of the bold effect and lasting qualities of flowers when cut. The long shelf-life of anthurium symbolizes a long, healthy life. The major countries importing anthurium are USA, Germany and Japan. In India, a few growers in Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Maharashtra and West Bengal have started growing anthurium on a large scale. The awareness of its export potential is fast growing in Kerala. Cultivation of anthurium both in homesteads and commercially is fast catching up. Moreover, it requires less labour. The same infrastructure can be used for the cultivation of anthuriums and orchids together, difference being in shade.
   
Climate and soil  

Anthurium requires warm greenhouse with shading from direct sunshine and a humid condition. A shade level of 75% is ideal for their healthy growth. However, the degree of shade varies with the cultivar, age and climate. Insufficient shading damages the leaves and eventually causes death of plants. Anthurium plants can be shaded with Saran or with UV stabilized agro-shade nets for uniform shade and these plants give more flowers/ unit area. The plants thrive best in a day temperature of 25°–28°C. Temperature influences the period of growth as well as flower development. Anthurium plants require high relative humidity, 80% being ideal.

A good medium for planting anthurium is a primary requisite. Different media are in vogue among growers. In Mauritius, sugarcane bagasse and in the Netherlands polyphenol foam, mineral wool and peat are commonly used. In general, highly organic, well-aerated media with good water-retention capacity and drainage are used for growing anthurium. It should anchor the roots firmly. Presence of salt in the medium is harmful to the plants. The media generally used in India contain wood shavings, leaf-mould, coarse sand, small brick pieces, neem cake, cowdung, coir-pith compost, charcoal and coconut husk pieces. The pH of 6.0 is ideal. Mineral deficiencies can arise as a result of high or low pH. Addition of organic matter maintains a desirable pH.

 
Varieties

Important varieties of anthurium having different colours are:

Red

Hawaiian: Ozaki, Kozohara, Aumana, T yam, P h a, Ayashii, Asahi and Mickey Mouse.

Holland: Cancan, Avo Rosette, Avo Serge, Avo Nette, Tropical, Scarlette, Avo Red, Avo Claudia, Fla success, Fla Red, Fla King, Mirjam, Pronto, Ingrid, Inka, Rio, Violetta and Jacqueline.

Others: Mauritius Red, Tanaka, Nova-Aurora, Red Elf, Calypso, Madame Butterfly and Splish-Splash.

Orange

Hawaiian: Nitta, Sunburst and Diamond Jubilee

Holland: Fla-range and Avo Gino

Others: Mauritius Orange, Horning Orange and Horning Rubin

White

Hawaiian: Manoa Mist, Uniwai, Chamlion, Trinidad, Hidden Treasure, De Weese, Maunekea, Suchior, Jamaica and Myron Moonie

Holland: Acropolis, Fla-exotic, Uranus, Avo Margeretta, Avo Jose, Cube, Geisha and Lima.

Others: Mauritius White and Haga White

Pink

Hawaiian: Abe Pink, Blush, Marian Seefurth and Candy Stripe.

Holland: Avo Anneke, Hoenette, Surprise, Bettine, Lunette and Sarina.

Other: Agnihothri, Lady Jane (Miniature pink), Paradise Pink and Passion (salmon pink)

Obake types

Fantasia (cream with pink veins), Madona (cream obake), Medori (green) Fal-rose (peach), Anueune (green), Rico (rose) Lambada (white-green obake), Farao (bright orange with green ears) and Carolyne Simone (purple).

   
Propagation

Anthurium can be propagated both by seed and vegetative means. To grow anthurium plants from seed is an extremely simple but lengthy process. The seeds germinate within 10 days and can be transplanted within 4–6 months. It may take 2 years for a plant to bloom. The plants developed from seeds also show variability. It is usual to discard 20–30% of the seed-derived plants because of low seedling vigour and poor vegetative growth. Anthurium seeds are also germinated aseptically. Top portion of the stem with leaves and a few roots are removed from 4–5 years old plants and planted. The remaining part of the stem develops side shoots (suckers). By repeating this, more number of plants can be obtained.

The plants produce suckers from the base of the plant. These suckers, in 4–5 leaf stage, 2–3 good roots, can be separated and planted. Sucker production varies with the variety. Suckers are initially planted in pure sand for 3–4 weeks for developing a good root system. They can be planted in the potting medium. These methods of propagation are, however, slow. Application of benzyl adenine at 750ppm increases sucker production.

Anthurium is also propagated through axillary buds. A mature leaf along with the axillary bud and the root at its base is separated out, planted in moist sand and kept in a mist chamber till the bud develops into a new plant.

Methods have been standardized for the quick multiplication of anthurium hybrids through tissue culture. Leaf segments, spadix segments, vegetative buds and stem sections have been successfully used as explants to get callus on the Nitsch on MS medium. Formation of callus from leaf segments is highly dependent on genotype, leaf age and size. Just unfolding leaves showed highest callus, as compared to older leaves. The total duration of the tissue culture cycle from leaf explant to complete plantlet is 11 months–2 months for callus induction, 3 months for callus multiplication and 4 months for sprout induction and leaf development and 2 months for root formation. When apical meristem or the axillary bud meristem are used as explant, the resulting plantlets are uniform and true to the mother plant. When any other tissue is used, the plants are produced through callus and some amount of variability is inevitable.

Deflasked rooted plants can be planted out in net pots held in egg trays. Washed fine sand or mixture of coarse sand and leaf mould can be used as the medium. There is better establishment when a fertilizer mix consisting of urea, magnesium sulphate and super phosphate is used and sprayed with 1% Indofil M 45. Larger plants perform better than smaller ones. Plantlets grown in the medium soilrite had maximum growth rate. The plants treated with fungicide solution can also be planted in community pots. 10–20 plants can be planted in an earthen pot having a diameter of 4" to 5".

   
Cultivation  

Planting

In small-scale planting, anthuriums are generally planted in earthen pots. A pot size of 22–30cm, having 2 holes, is usually preferred. Initially the potting mixture is filled to about one-fourth. Subsequently, with the growth of the plant, fresh medium is added, which not only encourages the growth of the plant but also provides good anchorage. Young plants require repotting every year while adult ones, in every 2 or 3 years. The new pots should not be larger than the previous ones.

Anthurium can be grown as a ground plant too. For a large-scale production, land having gentle slope is more suitable. Planting should be done on raised beds with the same potting media used for pots. Deep planting should be avoided. The planting distance is 45cm × 45cm, accommodating 29,640 plants/ha. However, a closer planting up to 30cm × 30cm can accommodate 61,750 plants/ha.

Manuring and fertilization

It is better to apply the fertilizers in smaller doses and at frequent intervals than giving larger doses at longer intervals. Manurial applications in soil are given at every alternate month. A combination of farmyard manure with about 2g of 17:17:17:2 of NPK and Mg/ plant, once or twice a month should be applied. For plants growing in pots, 5g complex fertilizer dissolved in 500ml water could be given in the medium once in 2 months. Foliar sprays of 0.5–1.0% of 17:17:17 complex could also be given to the plants, at biweekly interval. Plants should be watered shortly after application of the fertilizers. The N, K and Ca are the important elements required in anthurium nutrition. A deficiency of Ca can cause fading of the spathe colour. Apply Ca (5g/plant/month) to recover Ca deficiency.

Reduce the dose of N when plants switch over from vegetative to flowering phase. An over dose of fertilizer, applied shortly before the harvest of spikes, is surely going to reduce the vase-life of flowers.

Aftercare

Dense planting prevents proper air circulation and hinders spray penetration in anthurium, especially when they are planted on the ground. In potted plants, spreading out the pots can alleviate the problem. Therefore, for plants grown on the ground, rigid leaf pruning and spray schedule should be followed to take care of the diseases. An anthurium plant can be pruned to retain a minimum of 4 leaves, without any adverse effect on the flower production and quality.

Irrigation

The plants should be watered at least twice daily during summer. Mist or sprinkler irrigation is the best for anthurium. The last watering in a day should be timed in such a way as to leave sufficient time for the water to evaporate so that the plants are not damp during night hours. The quality of water is also important. It should be preferably free from dissolved salts. The optimum pH is between 5.5 and 6.0.
   
Harvesting & Postharvest management

The flowers are harvested after the unfolding of the spathe is completed. Flowers are harvested in the morning. They are cut with long stalks. About 8–12 flowers/ plant are obtained annually. Most anthurium blooms are harvested at about three-quarters maturity because at this time they have the longest shelf-life as cut flowers.

The basal portion of the stalk of the flowers should be kept in water as soon as possible, to prevent drying out. If the flowers are taken to long distant markets, a piece of cotton soaked in water is kept at the end of the stem to prevent desiccation. The spathe along with the spadix is then inserted into a polythene cover of appropriate size. This prevents bruises on the spathe due to pressing of spadices of adjacent spikes. The open ends of the polythene cover are stapled to prevent movement of the spathe inside the cover.

The price of flowers depends on their size and quality. The flowers having any sort of blemishes, black spots, discoloured spathe, deformed flowers and flowers with short stalk should be removed before grading. The flowers should be spotlessly, clean and shining. The flowers are then graded—extra large (more than 6"), large (5"–6"), medium (4"–5"), small (3"–4") and mini (<3"). These are packed in cardboard boxes of 24" × 12" × 9" size. A box can hold 70–100 flowers. Wet newspaper strips are kept in between the flowers. Depending upon the size, the price may vary from Rs 5 to 20/ spike.
TOP
 
Chromosome Number: 28
Taxonomic Classification
Class
:
Magnoliopsida
Order
:
Malpighiales
Family
:
Phyllanthaceae
Genus
:
Emblica
 

A onla or Indian gooseberry is an indigenous fruit to Indian subcontinent. Owing to hardy nature, suitability to various waste-lands, high productivity/unit area (15–20t/ha), nutritive and therapeutic value aonla have become an important fruit.

Its fruits are a rich source of vitamin ‘C'. Aonla fruit is highly valued among indigenous medicines. It is acrid, cooling, refrigerant, diuretic and laxative. Dried fruits have been reported to be useful in haemorrhages, diarrhoea, dysentery, anaemia, jaundice, dyspepsia and cough. Trifla and chavanprash are well-known indigenous medicines in Ayurvedic system using aonla. Besides fruits, leaves, bark and even seeds are being used for various purposes.

Its cultivation is common in India, particularly in Uttar Pradesh comprising Pratapgarh, Rai Bareilly, Varanasi, Jaunpur, Sultanpur, Kanpur, Agra and Mathura. Its intensive plantation is being done in the salt-affected areas of Uttar Pradesh, including ravinous areas in Agra, Mathura, Etawah, Fatehpur and semi-arid tract of Bundelkhand. Aonla cultivation is also spreading rapidly in the semi-arid regions of Maharashtra, Gujarat, Rajasthan, Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, Aravali ranges in Haryana and Kandi area in Punjab, Himachal Pradesh extending to Ghar area in Uttar Pradesh.

   
Climate and soil  

Aonla is a subtropical plant and prefers dry subtropical climate. Heavy frost during winter is not conducive to its cultivation. A mature aonla tree can tolerate freezing as well as high temperature of 46°C. Warm temperature seems conducive for the initiation of floral buds. Ample humidity is essential for initiation of fruit growth of dormant fruitlets during July–August. Dry spells result in heavy dropping and delay in initiation of fruit growth.

Since aonla is a hardy plant, it can be successfully grown in variable soil conditions. The deep root system, reduced foliage, dormancy of fertilized fruitlets (April–June) makes aonla an ideal plant for arid and semi-arid conditions. Aonla can be cultivated in marginal soils—slightly acidic to saline/sodic (pH 6.5–9.5) conditions. Heavy soils or high watertable areas are not suited for its cultivation.

 
Varieties

There are 3 main varieties of aonla—Banarasi, Francis (Hathijhool) and Chakaiya. These varieties have their own merits and demerits. Banarasi, an early-maturing aonla, is a shy-bearing, prone to heavy dropping of fruits with poor shelf- life. Francis suffers from severe incidence of fruit necrosis. Chakaiya fruits are fibrous, smaller in size and also have a tendency to bear heavy crop in alternate years. Other varieties identified and released for commercial cultivation are:

Kanchan (NA 4)

A seedling selection from Chakaiya, it is heavy and regular bearer (7.7 female flowers/branchlet), with medium-sized fruits, having higher fibre content. It is preferred by industries for pulp extraction and manufacturing of various products. This has been adopted very well in the semi-arid regions of Gujarat and Maharashtra.

NA 6

A seedling selection from Chakaiya, it is prolific and heavy-beared (10.8 female flowers/branchlet). It is ideal for preserve and candy, owing to low fibre content.

NA 7

A seedling selection of Francis, it is precocious, prolific and regular-bearer (9.7 female flowers/branchlet). This is an ideal variety for preparation of products and has a great promise.

Besides, Anand 1, Anand 2 and Anand 3 have been selected as promising strains in Gujarat.

   
Propagation

Aonla has long been raised through seeds and inarching. From seed propagation, there is prolonged juvenility and wide variability. On the other hand only limited number of scion shoots are available for inarching owing to upright tree habit.

It can be successfully propagated through patch/modified ring budding in north India during mid-May to September with 60–100% success. Besides, Veneer grafting also has successfully been attempted. Considering the efficiency and requirement of single bud, budding is an ideal method of propagation.

Six months to one-year-old seedlings obtained from ‘desi' aonla tree are being used as rootstock. Mature aonla fruits are collected during January–February and their seeds are extracted after drying. Seeds are sown in raised beds April onwards and these are transplanted in separate bed for subsequent budding.

Propagation of aonla in polybag, polytube, ‘‘ root trainer '' or in-situ orchards needs to be standardized and commercialized.

   
Cultivation  

Planting

Grafted or budded aonla plants are planted 7–10m apart during July–August or February. Pits of 1–1.25m size are dug 2 months prior to planting. In each pit 3–4 baskets of well-rotten farmyard manure and 1kg neem cake or 500g bone-meal are mixed with soil and filled. In sodic soil, 5–8kg gypsum along with 20kg sand is incorporated. Filled pits are irrigated thoroughly if there is no rain. In aonla orchards, ber, guava and lemon are ideal filler plants. These are planted in the centre of each square of aonla plants. Hedge-row planting is also being tried keeping line-to-line distance of 8m, while plant-to-plant distance is reduced to 4–5m. Under adverse soil conditions, it is advisable to grow the seedlings directly in the field pits or raise these in suitable containers and transplant at permanent site, and perform budding ( in situ ) subsequently. Aonla scion shoots can be safely stored for 5–7 days with ample success.

Since self-incompatibility appears to be a problem with aonla varieties, 2 varieties in alternate rows need to be planted. The best combination is NA 6 and NA 7 or Kanchan.

Training and pruning

Aonla plant should be encouraged to develop a medium-headed tree. The main branches should be allowed to appear at a height of 0.75–1m above the ground level. Plants should be trained to modified central leader system. Two to four branches with wide crotch angle, appearing in the opposite directions should be encouraged in early years. The unwanted branches are pinched off during March–April. In the subsequent years, 4–6 branches should be allowed to develop. Regular pruning of a bearing aonla tree is not required. As per growth habit, shedding of all determinate shoots encourages new growth in coming season. However, dead, infested, broken, weak or overlapping branches should be removed regularly.

Manuring and fertilization

The dose of manures and fertilizers depends upon soil fertility, age of plant and production. A dose of 10kg farmyard manure, 100g N, 50g P and 100g K should be given to one-year-old plants of aonla. This dose should be increased yearly up to 10 years and thereafter a constant dose should be given. Full dose of farmyard manure and P and half of N and K should be given in tree basin during January–February. The remaining half should be applied in August. In sodic soils, 100–500g of B and zinc sulphate should also be incorporated along with fertilizers as per tree age and vigour.

Irrigation

Established aonla orchards in general do not require irrigation particularly in normal soils. No irrigation is required during rainy and winter season. However, irrigation at 15–20 days interval is desirable in dry summer particularly during early years of orchard establishment under wasteland conditions. Brackish water should not be used for irrigation. In the bearing plantation, first irrigation should be given just after manure and fertilizer application (January/February). Irrigation should be avoided during flowering (mid-March–mid-April) period. Irrigation at 10–15 days intervals should be given particularly in the salt-affected soils.

Basin system of irrigation is well-suited for aonla. The initial information obtained with drip irrigation has shown promising response. Alternate drip irrigation with 60 CPE is appropriate with a water saving of 40–45%. In water scarcity areas, pitcher irrigation can also be successfully utilized.

Mulching

Mulching with organic wastes is very effective tool for establishment of aonla orchards in sodic and ravinous areas. Paddy straw, sugarcane trash and farmyard manure have shown better response. Mulching with organic wastes over a number of years shall be helpful in improving the organic-matter content, infiltration rate, and restricting the upward movement of soluble salts and thus escaping their toxicity menace in salt-affected soils.

Intercropping

Aonla being a deep-rooted, deciduous tree with sparse foliage, is an ideal plant amicable for 2- or 3-tier cropping system. Fruits, vegetables, flowers and a few medicinal and aromatic plants are well-suited for intercropping in aonla orchards. Some models are: aonla + ber (2-tier), aonla + guava (2-tier), aonla + ber + phalsa (3-tier), aonla + dhaincha + wheat or barely, aonla + dhaincha + onion/garlic/fenugreek or brinjal and aonla + dhaincha + German chamomile (3-tier).

   
Harvesting & Postharvest management

Change in seed colour from creamy-white to brown is an indication of fruit maturity. Fully developed fruits are harvested. Delay in harvesting results in heavy dropping of fruits particularly in Banarasi and Francis. It also adversely affects the following years bearing. Individual fruits are plucked by climbing on the tree with the help of pegged bamboo or ladder. Harvesting should be done in early or in the late hours of the day.

A budded/grafted aonla tree starts bearing third year onwards after planting, whereas a seedling tree may take 6–8 years. Vegetatively propagated plants attain full bearing within 10–12 years and may continue to bear for 60–75 years of age under well-managed conditions. An aonla tree may bear 1–3q/tree, giving 15–20 tonnes/ha.

Aonla fruits are graded into 3 grades. Large-sized, sound fruits are mostly utilized for preserve and candy; small-sized for chavanprash and trifla and blemished fruits for powder and shampoo making. Aonla fruits can be stored for 6–9 days at ambient temperature. However, with a salt solution it can be stored up to 75 day.

   
Physiological Disorders
Necrosis a physiological disorder, has been observed in aonla fruits. Francis variety is highly susceptible followed by Banarasi. Incidence initiates with browning of mesocarp which extends towards the epicarp resulting into brownish-black appearance of flesh.
TOP
 
Chromosome Number: 34
Taxonomic Classification
Class
:
Magnoliopsida
Order
:
Rosales
Family
:
Rosaceae
Genus
:
Malus
 
Apple (Malus pumila) is the most important temperate fruit of the north-western Himalayan region. It is predominantly grown in Jammu and Kashmir, Himachal Pradesh and hills of Uttar Pradesh, accounting for about 90% of the total production. Its cultivation has also been extended to Arunachal Pradesh, Sikkim, Nagaland, Meghalaya in north-easterm region and Nilgiri hills in Tamil Nadu. The agroclimatic conditions in these states are not as conducive as in north-western Himalayan region. Early and continuous rains from April onwards do not favour the production of quality fruits besides resulting in high incidence of diseases. The apple-growing areas in India do not fall in the temperate zone of the world but the prevailing temperate climate of the region is primarily due to snow covered Himalayan ranges and high altitude which helps meet the chilling requirement during winter season extending from mid-December to mid-March.
   
Climate and soil  

Most of the apple varieties require 1,000–1,500 hours of chilling below 7°C during winter to break the rest period. These conditions are available at an elevation of 1,500–2,700m above mean sea-level in the Himalayan ranges. By and large, the average summer temperature should be around 21°–24°C during active growth period. The areas with frost-free spring and adequate sunshine during summer without wide fluctuations in temperature are most suitable for apple cultivation. Low temperature, rains and cloudy weather, during flowering period hamper the bee activity, affecting cross pollination adversely. Areas exposed to high winds particularly the hill tops are also not suitable for its cultivation. Dry winds during summer desiccate flowers and hamper bee activity, resulting in poor fruit set. Inclement weather, particularly low temperature below 15°C during bloom restricts the bee activity which is completely inhibited below 4.4°C, affecting fruit set. Fully opened blossoms may be killed at temperatures below –2.2°C. The optimal temperature for pollen germination and fruit setting is 21.1–26.7°C.

Well-distributed rainfall of 100–125cm throughout the growing season is most favourable for its optimal growth and fruitfulness. The long drought spells during fruit development and excessive rains and foggy conditions at fruit maturity hamper fruit size and fruit quality. Dry temperate areas suitable for apple cultivation in Himachal Pradesh and Jammu and Kashmir are most suitable for production of high-quality fruits having intense colour development, high sugar content and longer shelf-life.

Soil depth, drainage and pH determine the suitability of soil types. Loamy soils, rich in organic matter having a pH of 5.5–6.5 with gentle to moderate slope, proper drainage and good aeration are most suitable. The soil should be free from hard substrata and waterlogged conditions. Where cultivation is done on flat soils, proper drainage channels need to be developed to restrict the incidence of collar-rot, root-rot and other soil-borne diseases.

 
Varieties

Apple varieties should have climatic adaptability, attractive fruit size, shape, colour, good-dessert quality, long shelf-life, resistance to diseases and pest and tolerance to drought conditions besides high productivity. In fifties, the green English varieties- McIntosh, Baldwin, Jonathan, Cox's Orange Pippin, Golden Delicious, Black Ben Davis and Pippins—predominated. Of late, the coloured Delicious apples have replaced the English ones. As a result of this phenomenal change, Delicious group now occupies more than 83% of the total areas under apple in Himachal Pradesh, 45% in Jammu and Kashmir and 30% in Uttar Pradesh. In Jammu and Kashmir, the area under Ambri has decreased to less than 1% due to late-bearing of this variety, though the fruits are highly attractive with a long shelf-life.

Recently, a further shift from Delicious group to improved spur types and standard colour mutants has been observed. The spur-type mutants produce trees 50–80% of the standard size with 20–50% higher yield potential in addition to early fruit maturity and better fruit colour. The, colour mutants produce standard-sized trees with early and better fruit colouration.

The high-yielding apple Scarlet Gala and Red Fuzi have also been introduced in Himachal Pradesh and hills of Uttar Pradesh. These are being evaluated on size controlling clonal rootstocks M 9, M 26, M 7, MM 106 and MM 111.

Scab-resistant varieties

A number of scab-resistant cultivars have been introduced since the incidence of apple scab in epidemic form in 1972–73 in Jammu and Kashmir and 1978–79 in Himachal Pradesh. These introductions include Prima, Priscilla, Sir Prize, Jonafree, Florina, Macfree, Nova Easy Grow, Coop 12, Coop 13 (Redfree), Nova Mac, Liberty and Freedom. Florina, an introduction from France, has shown promising performance in Himachal Pradesh and may become a good substitute for Delicious apples in scab-prone areas. Firdous and Shireen have been released for commercial cultivation as scab-resistant varieties in Jammu and Kashmir.

Hybrids

Hybridization programme of apple resulted in release of Lal Ambri (Red Delicious × Ambri) and Sunehari (Ambri × Golden Delicious) in Jammu and Kashmir; Chaubattia Princess and Chaubattia Anupam (Early Shanburry × Red Delicious) in Uttar Pradesh hills; and Ambred (Red Delicious × Ambri), Ambrich (Richared × Ambri) and Ambroyal (Starking Delicious × Ambri) in Himachal Pradesh. Ambrich, Ambroyal and Ambred have not gained popularity among the growers of Himachal Pradesh because of very late maturity and extended harvesting period, whereas high-colouring and early-maturing cultivars are preferred.

Low-chilling varieties

These varieties perform well in areas where winter chilling is less than 800hr below 7°C, insufficient for breaking dormancy of Delicious varieties. Introduction of low-chilling varieties has expanded the scope of apple cultivation to warmer and marginal areas. However, all low-chilling varieties are poor in dessert quality, subacid in taste and have poor shelf-life and as such have a scope for commercialization. Important table-purpose, low-chilling varieties are Michal, Schlomit, Anna, Tamma, Vered and Neomi. Tropical Beauty and Parlin's Beauty are suitable for processing purposes.

Pollinizing varieties

The most important feature of a pollinizing variety is that its flowering should synchronize with the main variety. In addition to this, it should have abundant viable pollen, long duration of flowering, compatibility with main variety, self- fruitfulness, regular bearing besides good commercial value. The Delicious group of varieties are self-incompatible and cross-pollinated, whereas most of the English varieties are self-pollinated and act as suitable pollinizers for Delicious group of varieties in the proper proportion of 11–30% in main variety plantation depending on the situation of the orchard. The most suitable pollinizing cultivars are Tydeman's Early, Red Gold, Golden Delicious, McIntosh, Lord Lambourne, Winter Banana, Granny Smith, Starkspur Golden and Golden Spur. A combination of early, mid-season and late-flowering pollinizers provides assured cross-pollination for the main variety. A combination of Tydeman's Early, Red Gold and Golden 

Delicious has been recommended in Himachal Pradesh for Starking Delicious plantations. The flowering crabs have also been introduced for cross-pollination and are under evaluation. Some important flowering crab varieties are Red Flush, Crimson Gold, Yellow Drop, Manchurian, Snowdrift, Golden Hornet and Malus floribunda . Redfree and Liberty, resistant to scab, can also be used as pollinizers.

   
Propagation

The apple plantations are raised on seedling rootstocks. The use of clonal rootstocks has not been commercialized despite the established superiority for raising uniform plantations, precocity and high productivity in Himachal Pradesh, Jammu and Kashmir and Uttar Pradesh. Non-availability of clonal material in the absence of commercial mass propagation techniques has remained the major constraint. Apples are propagated on seedlings of crab apple or self-pollinizing varieties, Golden Delicious, McIntosh, Yellows Newton and Northern Spy having good seed viability, germinability and seedling growth. The seeds of commercial varieties from fruit juice canning units are also used by nurserymen for raising seedling stocks. However, the seedling stocks lack uniformity in tree size and productivity but show better adaptability to sloppy and shallow soils under rainfed conditions.

Seedling rootstock

Apple seeds need stratification in moist sand at 4°–7°C for 60–90 days. The water-soaked seeds are placed between 2 and 3cm thick layers of moist sand in wooden boxes or polythene bags during December. The stratification boxes or bags are placed in cool place where the required chilling temperature of less than 7°C for 1,000–1,500hr is met in 60–90 days. The sand is kept moist during stratification. The stratification can be accomplished in the lower chamber of the refrigerator also. The stratification requirement is also met with in areas having very cool winters by direct sowing of seeds in nursery beds during November–December. The pre-stratified seeds, as indicated by whitish tip at the micropylar end, are sown during February–March in well-developed, raised beds. Sowing is done in rows 10cm apart with the spacing of 5cm between the seeds and 2–3cm deep. Nursery beds should be irrigated after sowing and covering with 10cm hay or pine needle mulch to protect the germinating seedlings from heavy rains and spring frost. Mulch when the seedlings are 5cm long for the straight upright growth of seedlings. One-year-old seedling stocks are ready for grafting during February–March.

Clonal rootstocks

The size controlling Malling (M) and Malling Merton (MM) series clonal rootstocks were introduced at the Regional Horticultural Research Station, Mashobra and Temperate Fruit Research Station, Kotkhai, in Himachal Pradesh, Government Hill Fruit Research Station, Chaubattia in Uttar Pradesh and Fruit Research Station, Shalimar in Jammu and Kashmir during late sixties.

The common method of propagation of clonal rootstocks of apple is mound layering (stooling). The rooted layers of the clone are planted in well-prepared stool beds during winter at a distance of 30cm in the row and 60cm apart. The 3–4 years old layers give rise to numerous suckers during spring. The suckers are covered with the soil before monsoon. The suckers are ringed or notched near the base during the rainy season and covered with soil to encourage rooting. The difficult-to-propagate rootstocks like M 9 need the treatment of 1,000–2,000ppm IBA at the notched portion for quick root initiation. The rooted layers are separated at the onset of dormancy (December) and lined out in nursery beds for further grafting with scion varieties during February–March. The rootstock should be healthy and disease-free and should attain the thickness of 0.9–1.25cm at grafting height for proper bud-take success. The growth of the rootstock should be straight and upright with proper root development. There should be no gall, knot or injury scar at the grafting height.

The rootstocks of apple are grafted with desirable scion variety during February–March. The scion wood should be collected from the mother plants of known pedigree. It should be collected from bearing trees only. One-year-old shoot growth is ideal for scion wood. Scion sticks should have only vegetative buds and not the reproductive buds. The scion wood should be healthy and disease-free. They should have 3–5 well-developed buds with smooth internodes. These should be collected during dormancy.

The scion wood collected prior to grafting must be properly stored. It should be kept slightly moist and at a low temperature to prevent the bud-break. A common method is to wrap the wood, in bundles of 25–100 sticks, in polythene sheets or bags. Moist saw-dust, wood shavings or moss should be used for packing to maintain moisture during storage. Sand should be avoided as it sticks to the scion wood and blunts the edge of knife during grafting. The storage temperature is also very important. If the scion wood is stored for 2–3 weeks, 5°C storage temperature is satisfactory. However, if the scions are to be stored for a longer duration (1–3 months), the scion wood should be kept at about 0°C to keep the buds dormant. Scions cannot be used for grafting in the active stage of growth.

Tongue grafting is the ideal method of grafting scion cultivar on the rootstock with more than 90% bud-take success. The scion should be grafted 15–20cm above the ground level. February–March is most suitable time of tongue grafting. It should be just before the bud-break. In tongue grafting, a slant cut is made on the rootstock 2–3cm long across the stem about 15–20cm above the crown. A vertical cut is given from one-third of the top of slant cut and extended up to two-thirds of the length of slant cut. Similar cuts are made on the scion wood and the 2 parts are connected by inner locking the tongues made by vertical cuts on scion and stock. The cambium of the 2 portions should match for successful graft. The graft union is wrapped with polythene strip. The bud take is accomplished in 4–6 weeks and thereafter the polythene wrapping should be removed.

‘T' budding during monsoon and chip budding during August can also be done for propagating scions with good bud-take success and smooth scion-stock union but the plant growth is poor in the Indian conditions. It takes one year for raising grafted plants, whereas two in case of budded plants of standard size.

   
Cultivation  

Planting

Before planting an apple orchard, proper decisions should be made on selection of varieties, rootstocks, tree size, spacing, placement of pollinizers and planting layout. The planting distance varies according to variety, vigour of rootstock, fertility of soil and climatic conditions. In flat and valley areas, the planting is done in square or hexagonal system of layout. However on slopes, contour or terrace planting is preferred. The usual pit size is 1m × 1m × 1m without any hard pan or rock at its base or on the sides. The pit should be dug and filled up one month before planting. The top soil and sub-soil should be piled separately while digging. Top soil must be filled first followed by sub-soil on the top to improve the fertility of lower layer of pit. While pit filling, 40–50kg well-rotten farmyard manure and 500g of superphosphate should be mixed in soil. The soil is allowed to settle for one month before planting. An early planting of apple in December–January is desirable for proper establishment. Graft union should be kept 25cm above the ground level to avoid collar-rot and scion rooting.

The combination of rootstock and scion variety determines the planting distance and planting density. In standard plantations, the plants of standard varieties grafted on seedling stocks are planted at a distance of 6–7.5m, accommodating 180–250 plants/ha. The planting distance can be reduced according to the vigour of rootstock. The clonal rootstocks particularly dwarfing and semi-dwarfing rootstocks should be used where the soils are flat, fertile and irrigated.

High-density planting

High-density planting has consistently increased in popularity and acreage particularly with small land-holdings in the Indian conditions recently. The traditional systems of planting having long juvenile period, are labour-intensive and low-yielding with poor-quality fruits, whereas high-density planting is more efficient orcharding system. It is precocious, easily manageable, has higher yield potential, with better quality fruits and higher returns/unit area. The high-density planting cannot be adopted in very steep, unfertile, shallow and drought-prone areas.

There are 4 categories of high-density planting—low (less than 250 plants/ha), moderate (250–500 plants/ha), high (500–1,250 plants/ha) and ultra high-density (more than 1,250 plants/ha). With the increase in planting density, the yield may increase, but beyond a threshold density, quality is deteriorated and may not be profitable in terms of economical returns. Super high-density plantings or meadow orcharding with a density of 20,000–70,000 plants/ha in some European countries have been raised but not commercialized so far. The major advantages of high-density planting are:

•  Potential of precocious bearing

•  High yield potential/unit area

•  Low labour costs and better orchard management

•  Improved fruit quality

The trees of high-density planting should have maximum number of fruiting branches and minimum number of structural branches. The branches on the tree should be so developed that each branch casts a minimum amount of shade on other branches. To develop favourable characteristics, following rules must be followed

•  Prevent upright growth of tree

•  Develop horizontal branches

•  Space small laterals, along the central leader

•  Develop and maintain fruiting spurs along the entire branch as it develops

•  Develop rigid, strong, self-supporting laterals

•  Develop fruiting spurs along the sides rather than top or bottom of lateral branches.

Tree size control

A key to successful high-density planting depends upon control of tree size. Following tree size controlling methods can be adopted to develop high-density planting

•  Use of size-controlling rootstocks

•  Use of spur-type scions

•  Training and pruning methods to induce dwarfing and spreading habit of tree

•  Mechanical devices like branch bending to control size

•  Use of chemicals

The most convenient and indispensable method of tree size control in apple high-density planting is the use of size controlling clonal rootstocks. The combination of rootstock and scion variety determines the plant spacing and planting density/unit area.

Training

The plants are trained according to growth habit and vigour of the rootstocks. Training helps to establish a strong framework of scaffold limbs capable of supporting heavy yield with quality fruits, regulate annual succession of crops, expose maximum leaf surface to the sun, direct the growth of the trees so that various cultural operations like spraying and harvesting become economical, protect the trees from sun-burn and promote early production. The training procedures for standard and dwarf plants differ.

The standard trees are trained on modified central leader system. The ideal standard tree can be trained as:

•  The plants are pruned to 50–60cm above the ground at the time of planting

•  During first year, 2–3 well-spaced scaffold limbs are selected with the lowest at 30cm above the ground and others spaced vertically 10–15cm apart in a spiral fashion. The growth of the unwanted shoots is depressed by pinching 3–5cm of the shoot tips during mid-April–mid-May.

•  The selected primary scaffolds during summer are headed back to one-fourth to one-fifth of the growth.

•  During second year dormant pruning, the central leader and primary scaffold branches are headed back similar to first dormant pruning. More scaffold branches are retained on the trunk at the vertical distance of 45–75cm. A total of 5–7 secondary branches/tree usually two on each primary scaffold are also selected in the second dormant pruning which are directed partially outward. The primary scaffold should have the crotch angle of 45° with trunk. The proper crotch angle can be developed by tying the branches with ropes or inserting the branch spreaders.

•  Third year training consists of thinning out of unwanted branches and heading back others to desirable side limbs. Secondary branches often develop spurs during third growing season.

•  By fourth year, training is largely completed. By this time, the proportional growth of central leader and side scaffold branches should be attained which should be 1 : 1.5. This will help in lateral growth rather than upward growth of plants favourable for proper spur development.

•  When the tree attains the height of 4–4.5m, the central leader should be headed back near to moderate side growing shoot to check the height of the plant.
Dwarf plants are trained to spindle bush/slender spindle, i.e. one-year old plant is headed back to 45–60cm at the time of planting.

•  During first summer, 2–3 laterals or feathers, 30cm from the base are selected to form main scaffold branches. The scaffolds should have wide angle and be well-spaced around the stem. Vigorous growing laterals are tied down in August when the extension growth has ceased in order to develop wide crotch angle.

•  During first winter, 2–3 well-spaced laterals are retained and unwanted branches are removed. The scaffold branches are headed back to one-third to half of the length to a outward growing bud if the growth is weak. Otherwise the main branches can be left unpruned. The leader is also cut back to more or less erect but a weak lateral. Any vigorous, upright shoot, growing near the forming leader and competing with it should also be removed.

•  During August of second year, suitable laterals are tied down to form more scaffold branches.

•  To check excessive vigour of central leader, it may again be cut back to suitably placed weak growing lateral which is trained to take the place of the central leader. Delaying pruning until late winter also helps in checking vigour.

•  During subsequent winters, branches are allowed to grow from central leader at regular intervals, choosing wide angled shoots. Higher placed branches should be kept shorter than lower ones to allow the light penetration into the lower tree canopy to the maximum extent.

•  The main branches should be so trained and spaced that there is plenty of room for fruiting laterals and those should not be allowed to fork at terminal.

•  In order to keep sufficient wood in the spindle bush while it is being built up, a small surplus of wide angled branches is retained, which may be cut when branches require more space and get crowded.

Pruning

Pruning in apple is essential to maintain a proper balance between vegetative growth and spur development. The basic steps of pruning standard bearing trees are:

•  Start pruning at the top of the trees and work downward.

•  Cut upward growing limbs back to strong lateral

•  Remove the crowding branches and thin out the remaining leaving the vigorous fruiting wood well spaced along the length of limbs.

•  Remove dead, broken and diseased wood.

•  Remove parallel growing shoots causing crowding and shading and opposite growing shoots at a point on the stem.

•  Remove all water sprouts except the occasional ones which may be needed to fill a vacant space in the canopy.

•  While removing a thick branch, first small cut should be made on the under side of limb to avoid bark peeling.

•  Divert branches to open areas by pruning to desirable laterals.

•  The plants trained on spindle bush system can be pruned as:

•  Once the central leader has reached its desirable height of 2.5m, the extension growth should be cut back each year to a weaker side branch.

•  Strong growing shoots towards the top of the tree should be removed completely.

•  Renewal pruning of the fruiting branches lower down should be carried out each year to maintain vegetative growth and fruit quality in lower part of the tree.

•  The branches causing shade to the other lower branches should be removed or headed back.

•  In thinning out of branches to main stem, a stub should be left to encourage the regrowth of moderately vigorous fruitful bud.

•  Avoid removing too many branches and so reducing potential fruit yield. The main branches which have lost the vigour can be stimulated by pruning. Worn out wood of heavy cropping varieties should be removed periodically.

Precautions in pruning

•  When a limb larger than 3cm in diameter is removed, the pruning cut should be made as close as possible to the branch from which the limb arises without leaving a stub.

•  Large pruning wounds should be protected with Bordeaux paste or Chaubattia paste to check the entry of rot-causing fungi.

•  In 1- or 2-year-old shoots, heading back can be done to promote growth of side shoots and quick wound healing. In 3-year-old and older shoots, pruning should be shifted to thinning out cuts to reduce vegetative growth and promote fruiting.

•  The competing branches should be thinned out rather than headed back.

Manuring and fertilization

Application of manures and fertilizers start right from planting of orchard. The first application should be made at the time of filling of pits. The fertilizer dose depends upon the soil fertility, type of soil, kind and age of trees, cultural practices, climate and crop load. The dose of manures and fertilizers should be determined on the basis of soil and leaf analysis.

In an orchard of optimal fertility, N, P and K may be applied in the ratio of 70:35:70g/year age of the tree. The dose should be stabilized (700:350:700g N:P:K/tree) after 10 years of age. These applications may be supplemented with farmyard manure @10kg/year age of the tree with the maximum of 100kg. Apple trees prefer N, P and K in the form of calcium ammonium nitrate, superphosphate and muriate of potash respectively. As the crop load is low in an ‘off' year, the standard fertilizer dose of NPK may be reduced to 500g, 250g and 400g respectively. Since the response to P application is poor in P-rich acidic hilly soils, it would be a better practice if P is applied after every 2–3 years or should be reduced to half annually in such conditions.

In bearing trees, farmyard manure along with P and K should be applied during December–January. Nitrogen is applied during February–March, 2–3 weeks before bud-break. The N can be given in two split doses, first 2–3 weeks before bud-break and second one month after flowering, where the irrigation facilities are available. The fertilizers should be broadcast in the tree basins 30cm away from tree trunk to the canopy drip line and mixed well in the soil. Deep cultivation to mix the fertilizer in soil should be avoided, as this practice injures root system. In high-rainfall areas with steep slopes and small basins band application of N is preferred.

There are deficiencies of macro as well as micronutrients. The B, Zn, Mn, Ca and N have been found in deficient range mostly and symptoms can be easily identified on leaves or shoots.

Clean basin management is the common practice of floor management in apple. The basins are kept clean by hand working, hay mulching or black alkathene mulching. In cool climates, black alkathene mulch is very efficient which not only controls weeds and conserves moisture but also improves the fruit quality. It should be avoided in warmer areas, as black alkathene absorbs the solar heat and increases the soil temperature, hampering root growth. Application of Glyphosate @ 800ml/ha or Grammaxone/Paraquat (0.5%) as post-emergence herbicide suppresses the weed growth for 4–5 months. In the initial years of plantations, green-manuring crops like sunflower and bean may be cultivated between the basins to improve the soil texture and nutrient status of soil. Improved grasses like orchard grass ( Dactylis glomerata ), tall fescue ( Fescue arundinaceae ) and timothy ( Phleum pratense ) and nitrogen-fixing legumes like red clover ( Trifolium pratense ), white clover ( Trifolium repens ) and lucerne ( Medicago sativa ) can be introduced between the tree basin spaces in grown-up orchards.

Heavy bearing in apple usually results in small-sized, poor-quality fruits and sets in alternate bearing cycle. Judicious fruit thinning at proper stage of fruit development not only regulates cropping but also fruit size and quality. The practice is essential in pollinizing varieties in the Delicious group plantations for regulating adequate cross-pollination. Carbaryl or Sevin @750–1,000ppm, or NAA @10–20ppm at petal fall results in optimal fruit thinning. Hand-thinning can also be done but it is very cumbersome and uneconomical procedure.

Fruit drop

Most of commercial varieties experience 3 phases of fruit drop—early drop, June drop and preharvest drop. The early drop considered natural, occurs due to lack of pollination and fruit competition. The June drop is caused by moisture stress and environmental conditions which can be checked by maintaining soil moisture through irrigation or mulching. The preharvest drop causes serious economic losses, as the mature marketable fruits abscise before harvesting due to reduction in levels of auxins or increase in ethylene levels in fruit. Early-ripening varieties like Tydeman's Early, Red Gold and Pippins experience 40–60% drop, whereas in Delicious group loss occurs to the extent of 15–20% of crop load. Application of NAA (10ppm) before the expected fruit drop or 20–25 days before harvesting checks the preharvest fruit drop effectively.

Irrigation

Most of apple orchards in India are situated in rainfed slopy areas where irrigation facilities are inadequate except in flat valley areas. Apple requires uniform distribution of rainfall throughout the year or needs to be supplemented with irrigation during critical periods. The most critical period of water requirement in apple is from April to August, the peak requirement being after fruit set. In areas where irrigation is available, apple requires about 114cm water during the whole year which can be scheduled in 15–20 irrigations. In critical summer months, the irrigations can be given at 7–10 days interval and rest at 3–4 weeks interval. At least 8 irrigations during critical period of water requirement are recommended for Starking Delicious apple. With the introduction of drip irrigation system, irrigation can be extended to scarce water source areas and hilly slopes also. About 1,695 litres of water/tree is required during the season in drip irrigation compared with 3,840 litres/tree in the conventional method of irrigation. In drought-prone and water-scarce areas, the soil moisture can be retained by hay mulching or black alkathene mulching immediately after spring rains.

   
Harvesting & Postharvest management

Since apple is climacteric fruit, the maturity of fruits does not coincide with ripening. The fruits usually do not attain fully ripe edible quality on the tree while harvesting. The fruits should be harvested at proper picking maturity to attain proper edible quality at ripening. Picking of immature fruits results in poor quality fruits lacking flavour and taste which shrivel during storage. Over-mature fruits develop soft scald and internal breakdown with poor shelf-life. There are several maturity indices which can be adopted in proper fruit harvesting. The TSS of fruit pulp, ease in separation of fruit from spur, change in ground surface colour from green to pale, change in seed colour to light brown, fruit firmness and days from full bloom to harvest are some reliable maturity indices for apple which can be considered singly or in combination.

All the fruits do not mature evenly on trees depending on the time and number of flower flushes. Thus more than one pickings are required. Apple fruits should be picked in such a way that bruising and stem punctures are avoided and pedicel must remain with fruit. Apple should be grasped between index finger, middle finger and thumb, and quick upward twist of wrist will easily pluck the fruit along with pedicel. Picked fruit should be placed softly in the picking bags or baskets. The fruits should be transferred carefully from picking baskets to boxes or baskets be transported to packing houses for grading and packing.

Precooling

After picking, the fruits should be placed in a cool and ventilated place to remove field heat before packing. Air cooler, cold water sprinkling or fruit washing with water also helps quick removal of field heat. Keeping fruits over-night near the tree basins for cooling down is another practical way to remove field heat. Fruit surface must be free of moisture before grading, wrapping or packing in cartons.

Grading

Apples are graded according to fruit size and fruit appearance or quality. On the basis of fruit size, apples are graded manually in 6 grades. On the basis of fruit colour, shape, quality and appearance, apple fruits can be graded in 3 or more quality grades. These grades are designated as AAA, AA and A; A, B, C; or extra fancy, fancy class I and fancy class II. For size grading, mechanical graders with washing and waxing facilities are available in India now.

Packaging

Apples are packed in wooden boxes. Size of wooden boxes used in different apple-growing areas of India are different and carry about 10kg or 20kg fruits in a box. Standard-sized wooden boxes are 45.7cm long, 30.5cm wide, and 25.4, 27.5 and 30.5cm in height according to size of grade.

Corrugated-fibre board (CFB) cartons are also available for packing apples. Such cartons are of 2 types—universal cartons and telescopic tray-pack cartons. The CFB cartons not only save the precious wood and forest wealth but result in very less fruit bruising (3.5%) which fetch good market price. The usual dimensions of CFB cartons with trays are 50.4cm × 30.3cm × 28.2cm (outer jacket) and 50.0cm × 30.0cm × 28.2cm (inner case).

Storage

Apples have long storage life compared to other fruits. However, different varieties have different storability. Deterioration of fruits starts after climacteric stage. However, shelf-life of apples can be prolonged by providing optimal storage conditions. The cold storage retards fruit deterioration and reduces decay from pathogens and shrivelling from water loss. The recommended storage temperature for apple is –1.1°–0°C which is about 0.8°–1.8°C above the average freezing point of most apple varieties. The relative humidity of 85–90% should be maintained in cold storages. Most apple varieties can be stored for 4–8 months after harvesting, Ambri has the longest storage life.

   
Physiological Disorders

Scald is one of the storage disorders in apple. Light mottling on greener surface of fruits are initial symptoms of scald. Darkening becomes more severe with elapsed time and ultimately extends to red surface also. Scald usually affects the skin only but in severe cases it may extend to fruit flesh. The immature fruits are most susceptible to scald which is aggravated by warmer temperatures in storage.

Bitterpit is characterized by small sunken spots on the fruit surface which are more prevalent near the blossom-end. Initially small water-soaked areas appear which shrink and turn brown with the loss of water and ultimately become brown localized areas of the dead tissue. Unlike the name, these corky tissues are never bitter in taste. The immature picked fruits and large-sized fruits in ‘off' year are most affected, Golden Delicious, Yellow Newton and Gravenstein being most susceptible apple varieties.

Internal browning is associated with apple Yellow Newton and is characterized by brownish streaks radiating into flesh from the core. Controlled atmospheric storage with higher temperature can be helpful to control this disorder. Appearance of disorder is less at 1°C in cold storage.

TOP
 
Chromosome Number: 16
Taxonomic Classification
Class
:
Magnoliopsida
Order
:
Rosales
Family
:
Rosaceae
Genus
:
Prunus
 
Apricot is an important fruit crop of midhill and dry temperate regions of the country. Cultivated apricot has its origin in North-Eastern China, whereas wild apricot, popularly known as zardalu, appears to be indigenous to India. It grows wild in hills of Shimla and Kinnaur districts of Himachal Pradesh. Fruit is delicious. It is rich in vitamin A and contains more carbohydrates, proteins, phosphorus and niacin than many other common fruits. Besides its use as dessert, it is also canned and dried. Fruit is processed into jam, nectar and squash. The kernel, which is either sweet or bitter depending upon the variety, is a valuable byproduct. Since sweet kernels taste like almond, they are used as its substitute in pastries and confectionery, while bitter ones are used for oil extraction. Apricot is grown commercially in the hills of Himachal Pradesh, Jammu and Kashmir, Uttar Pradesh and to a limited extent in north-eastern hills. Some drying type apricots are being grown in the dry temperate areas of Kinnaur and Lahaul Spiti in Himachal Pradesh and Ladakh in Jammu and Kashmir.
   
Climate and soil  
Apricots can be successfully grown at an altitude between 900 and 2,000m above mean sea-level. White-fleshed, sweet kernelled apricots require cooler climate and are grown in dry temperate region up to 3,000m above mean sea-level, whereas yellow-fleshed, bitter-kernelled ones thrive better under the warmer climate of midhills (900–1,500m). The long cool winter (300–900 chilling hours below 7°C), and frost-free and warm spring are favourable for fruiting. Average summer temperature (16.6°–32.2°C) is suitable for better growth and quality fruit production. The sites located in north-eastern India at lower elevations and on South-Western at higher elevations are suitable for its cultivation. Spring frost causes extensive damage to the blossoms which are killed when temperature falls below 4°C. Apricots thrive better under low humidity as high humid conditions in summer increase the incidence of brown rot. An annual rainfall of about 100cm well-distributed throughout the season is good for its normal growth and fruiting. Being hardy, it can grow in most of the soils, but deep fertile and well-drained loamy soils are more suitable for its growth and development. The pH of the soil should be 6.0–6.8. However, in Ladakh and Kinnaur, large wild apricots grow in sandy, well-drained and less fertile soils.
 
Varieties
In India, apricot is grown in midhills to high hills having variable climatic conditions. Varieties which are suitable for midhills are not suitable for high hills or dry temperate region. About 100 varieties of cultivated apricot are available in India. Most of them are of exotic origin.
   
Propagation

Apricots are commercially propagated by grafting or budding. Multiplying through cuttings is rarely done. Wild apricot ( Chuli ) and wild peach seedlings are generally used as a rootstock. The graft union on wild apricot is good and the trees are more vigorous than on plum and wild peach. Peach is a satisfactory rootstock for light soils and dry conditions but sometimes the graft union is enlarged or rough. Under heavy soils and excessive soil moisture conditions, apricot on Myrobalan plum grows better.

For raising the rootstock, seeds are collected from fully ripe fruits of wild apricots. Apricot seeds require stratification for a period of 45–50 days at 4°C to break dormancy. The germination of seeds can also be hastened by soaking the seeds for 24 hr in 500ppm GA3 or 5ppm Kinetin solution before sowing. The stratified seeds are sown 6–10cm deep in well-prepared nursery beds at a distance of 15–20cm from seed-to-seed in rows 25–30cm apart. After sowing, the beds are mulched with 6–10cm thick grass and light irrigation is applied. The seedlings attain graftable size one year after sowing.

Tongue grafting, T-budding and chip budding are generally adopted for its multiplication. The seedlings of pencil thickness are grafted with tongue method in February, while the seedlings of lesser thickness are T-budded in June. Chip budding performed in September also gives very good success. After one month of bud take, the tying material (polythene) should be removed. Aftercare of grafted plants like single stemming, staking, weeding, watering and plant-protection measures should be adopted at regular intervals. Application of farmyard manure @ 80 tonnes/ha and 30kg/ha of P 2 O 5 is recommended for better growth of grafted/budded plants.

   
Cultivation  

Planting

Apricot is planted during the dormant season (December-end to mid-March), but early planting gives better establishment of plants. Pits of 1m × 1m × 1m size are dug about a month before planting. They are filled with a mixture of soil and 50–60kg well-decomposed farmyard manure. About 1kg single superphosphate and 10ml Chloropyriphos solution (10ml/10 litres of water) is also added to each pit.

On flat land, a regular layout system such as square and triangular is followed, while on the hill slopes, contour system is generally practised. The spacing of plants varies with the soil, climate and vigour of cultivar. The plants are generally planted at a distance of 6m × 6m. Due to the absence of the dwarfing rootstocks, high-density planting is still to be standardized with proper training and pruning system, and with the use of growth retardants.

One-year-old, healthy and disease-free plants are planted in the middle of the pit. The soil is pressed gently so that roots are set. Watering should be done immediately to establish close contact between roots and soil. After planting, tree basin is mulched with 10cm thick hay mulch to conserve soil moisture. In summer, watering should be done as and when required.

Training and pruning

Apricot is trained to open vase and modified centre leader system of training, though the open vase system of training is more popular in the hilly regions. At the time of planting, one-year-old whip is headed back at about 60–70cm above the ground and 3–5 well-spaced shoots are allowed to grow in all directions. Pruning is more important in first dormant season because the framework developed in this period gives ultimate shape to the tree. In first dormant season, 3–5 primary scaffold branches arising at proper angles (45°), well-spaced (10–15cm apart) and spirally arranged around the tree trunk are selected. The lowest branch should be 40–45cm above the ground level. All the primary scaffold branches are headed back to half of their growth to get the secondary branches on them. During second dormant pruning, 5–7 well-spaced secondary scaffold branches are selected on each primary branch and others are removed. At the end of third year, pruning is confined to the thinning of branches which are either over crowding or crossing each other, for proper development of the framework and to admit adequate sunlight in the tree canopy.

Apricot bears on spurs and laterally on one-year-old shoots. The spurs have a short life of 3–4 years. Many of them are also broken during fruit plucking. The production of young growth is, therefore, essential for the initiation of new spurs which generally takes place at the bases of the growing laterals. In young bearing trees, pruning should be light and of corrective type but in older trees, heavy pruning should be done to maintain balance between growth and fruiting. In apricot, 25–30% thinning of one-year-old shoots or one-third heading back is recommended to improve fruit size and quality. After pruning Chaubattia paste is applied on the cut ends of the shoots.

Manuring and fertilization

Apricots remove a large quantity of nutrients from the soil, requiring replenishment with both organic manures and chemical fertilizers. The manurial requirement depends upon age of tree, type of soil, climatic conditions and cultural practices, which vary from region-to-region.

For mature trees (7 years old or more) a mixture of 40kg farmyard manure, 500g N, 250g P 2 O 5 and 200g K is recommended. The farmyard manure should be applied during December–January along with full dose of P and K. Nitrogen is applied in 2 doses: first half 2–3 weeks before flowering and the remaining half a month later, if irrigation facilities are available. Under rainfed conditions, the second half dose of N should be applied at the onset of monsoon or through 1 or 2 foliar sprays of urea (0.5%) after fruit set. Fertilizers should be broadcast on the soil surface under the spread of the trees and mixed with the soil. It should not be applied in too wet or too dry soils. In high rainfall areas with steep slopes, the band application of nitrogenous fertilizers should be preferred over broadcasting.

Aftercare

In apricot orchards application of Atrazine or Diuron @ 4.0kg/ha as pre-emergence and Gramaxone @ 2 litres/ha or Glyphosate @ 800ml/ha as post-emergence is quite effective and economical to control weeds. Mulching tree basins with 10–15cm thick dry grass also checks weed growth. During the initial 2–4 years, pea, bean, soybean and cowpea enrich the soil and give economic returns also.

Fruit set in apricot is rather heavy which results in under-sized fruits, increasing the tendency of biennial bearing. Fruit thinning improves fruit size, promotes regular bearing, decreases limb breakage (due to heavy crop load) and maintains the tree vigour. Fruit thinning should be done within 40 days after full bloom (last week of April or first week of May). Both hand and chemical thinning methods are employed. Depending upon the crop load, the fruit may be thinned till the fruits are 6–10cm apart. A spur should not have more than 2 fruits. Foliar spraying of 25–50ppm NAA 20 days after fruit set is ideal for thinning.

Irrigation

Though apricot is tolerant to dry atmosphere, it requires irrigation especially during critical periods of fruit growth and development. Water requirement varies with soil, tree age, climatic conditions and irrigation methods. The peak water use period is from April-end to mid-June, which coincides with the rapid fruit development period. Irrigation at 20% depletion of soil moisture from field capacity improves fruit size and yield. It should be irrigated at 10 days intervals during May and 6–8 days during June. In Himachal Pradesh, 8 irrigations in a season are sufficient for better size and quality fruits. Hay mulch (10–15cm thick) and black plastic mulch also help conserve soil moisture.

   
Harvesting & Postharvest management

Apricot fruits generally mature during first week of May–June-end depending upon variety and location. They are harvested manually and no mechanical harvesting is practised. Change of surface colour, days from full bloom to harvesting and fruit TSS are considered as the best indices of maturity. For fresh marketing, fruits should be plucked when they change their surface colour from green to yellow. Fully ripe fruits are harvested for freezing, canning and drying. In Himachal Pradesh, days from full bloom to harvest and fruit TSS have been standardized to judge the optimum harvesting time for different varieties.

Since apricots are very perishable, due care is required during harvesting, packing and transportation. The fruits should be harvested in morning hours and direct exposure of fruits to sun should be avoided during grading and packing.

Apricot trees start fruiting at the age of 5 years and continue up to 30–35 years. They attain full bearing age at about 7–10 years, yielding 50–80kg/tree or 15–22 tonnes/ha.

Before packing, fruits are graded according to their size. Fruits are packed in wooden boxes or CFB cartons. Each box is lined inside with newspaper sheets keeping the margins for overhanging the flaps. The boxes are initially padded with pine needles at the bottom to avoid the bruising of fruits. Wrapping of individual fruits is not done in apricot. Fruits are arranged in layers and top layer is covered with paper by bringing together overhanging flaps. Then top of the box is nailed.

Small-sized CFB cartons are also used for packing apricots. The CFB cartons are lighter in weight, easy to handle and in packing. The fruits fetch better price because of lesser bruising damage. However, they are slightly more expensive than wooden boxes and need protection from direct rains.

Although apricots are perishable they can be stored at 0°C for 1–2 weeks with 85–95% relative humidity.

Due to the perishable nature and very short storage life of fruits, apricots are marketed in the local markets and nearby cities. Generally, the growers sell their produce by auction to the contractors. They send the fruits to Delhi and nearby markets. Some big farmers send their produce directly to the markets and sell through the commission agents.
Nutritional Value
 
TOP
 
Chromosome Number: 32
Taxonomic Classification
Class
:
Liliopsida
Order
:
Arecales
Family
:
Arecaceae
Genus
:
Areca
 
Arecanut or betel nut or supari is chewed both as raw nut and after processing. While ripe arecanut is favoured in Assam, Kerala and Northern parts of West Bengal, chali is more popular is Western and Northern parts of India. Processed green nut kalipak is the choice in Karnataka and Tamil Nadu. Owing to the medicinal properties, it is used in treating leucoderma, cough, fits, worms, anaemia and obesity. Arecanut is of utmost importance in many religious ceremonies. Tannins in arecanut are being used for dyeing clothes, ropes and for tanning leather. Plastic, hard boards and craft paper of satisfactory strength can be made from its husk. The leaf sheath is a good material for making throw-away cups and plates, plyboards, decorative veneer panels and picture mounds. Its stem forms a useful building material in the villages. Arecanut is mostly grown in Kerala, Karnataka, Assam, West Bengal and Tamil Nadu.
   
Climate and soil  
Though arecanut grows up to 1,000m above mean sea-level, its quality is affected adversely at higher altitudes. In most of the states, it is grown in the plains. The crop flourishes well at a temperature range of 14°–36°C. Extremes of temperature and wide diurnal variations are not conducive for desirable performance. The largest area of arecanut is found in gravelly laterite soils of red clay. In parts of Karnataka, arecanut is planted in fertile clay soils with an admixture of tank silt. Sticky clay, sandy, brakish and calcarious soils are not favourable for its cultivation.
 
Varieties
Mangala, Sumangala, Sreemangala, Mohitnagar, CAL 17 and SAS 1 are released varieties for various arecanut-growing regions of India
   
Propagation

Arecanut is propagated only through seeds. Seed nuts are collected from selected high-yielding mother palms, 5 years after their first bearing. Apart from high yield, the age of first bearing and higher percentage of nut set (above 50%) are important characters to be considered for selection. Lowering the ripe bunches using a rope is advantageous. Only fully ripe nuts with a minimum weight of 35g are selected.

The whole nuts are sown in sand beds 5–6cm apart, with their stalk ends pointing upwards. Sand is spread just to cover the nuts. The nursery should be irrigated daily. Germination starts in about 40 days and the sprouts are retained in the primary nursery till they produce 2–3 leaves which usually takes 3–4 months. The seedlings are transplated to secondary nursery beds at a spacing of 35–45cm. The beds can be of any size but 150cm wide and 15cm high are convenient. A basal dose of well-decomposed cattle manure (5 tonnes/ha) may be applied in the secondary nursery. Partial shade should be provided through Pandal or by growing Coccinia indica. Copious irrigation during summer and proper drainage during monsoon are essential. Weeding and mulching should be done periodically.

Instead of transplanting sprouts in the secondary nursery, they can also be raised in polythene bags of 25cm × 15cm size. The bags should be filled with a potting mixture containing loam or top soil, dried and powdered farmyard manure and sand in 7:3:2 ratio.

   
Cultivation  

Planting

Since arecanut palm is very delicate, the field should have protection from exposure to south-western sun by way of either hillocks or tall evergreen trees. The land should have irrigation facility. Feasibility of drainage is another prerequisite where watertable is high.

The spacing of 2.7m × 2.7m is adequate. Square, rectangular, triangular and quincunx systems of planting are used. Planting in proper alignment helps prevent sun scorching of the stem. In square system planting, the north-south line should be deflected at an angle of 35 degrees towards west.

About 12–18 months old seedlings are used for planting. Selected seedlings are removed with a ball of earth for transplanting. If they are raised in polythene bags, transporting can be done straightway to any distance without damage.

May–June or the onset of monsoon is best time for planting. In clayey soils having waterlogging, it is taken up in August–September. Pits of 90cm × 90cm × 90cm size are dug and filled with a mixture of top soil, farmyard manure and sand or top soil to a height of 50–60cm from bottom. The seedlings are planted in the centre of the pit, covered with soil to the collar level and firmly pressed. Where higher watertable prevails, seedlings are planted in shallow pits or in extreme cases on mounds raised for the purpose. In such conditions, earthing-up is required in subsequent years to prevent exposure of roots.

Manuring

Manuring is done around the palm in basins 15–20cm deep and 1m wide. The fertilizers are applied in 2 split doses during April–May and September–October. These are broadcast around the base of each palm and forked. Application of 25kg organic manure as green leaf, compost or farmyard manure is recommended. These can be applied as single dose. In acidic soils, application of lime is necessary. The lime requirement in each soil has to be determined and the required quantity should be broadcast around the basins preferably during dry months and mixed with soil by forking.

Aftercare

To ensure adequate drainage, one drain channel should be provided for every 2 rows of palms. The channels should be at least 15–30cm deeper than the depth at which the seedlings are planted. The drains are to be cleaned at the beginning of monsoon each year. The planted pits are also to be provided with outlets and emptied to the drains.

Young seedlings are best protected by raising banana crop during the early years. This also helps the farmers to get some income till the areca palm starts giving revenue. Protecting the stem from sun scorching is important since the parts once damaged cannot be recouped. From the beginning of October, the exposed stems of palms are to be covered with dry leaves of arecanut or by white opaque polythene film.

The cultural practices followed by cultivators in different parts of India vary. Light digging in October–November is required to break up any crust formed at the soil surface and to uproot weeds. Mulching the interspaces of arecanut gardens is another field operation which prevents soil erosion during heavy rains and adds humus to the soil.

Irrigation

Areca is grown as a rainfed crop in West Bengal, Assam and southern parts of Kerala. Since irrigation increases its yield, it is recommended to irrigate during long dry spell. In West Coast, watering once in 7 days during November–December, once in 6 days during January–February and once in 3–5 days during March–May is recommended. Irrigation of 30mm depth when CPE is 30mm is the best. For efficient water use, drip irrigation is recommended.

Multiple cropping

Multiple cropping and intercropping in arecanut gardens provides an additional income. The intercrops should be tolerant to shade, should not compete with arecanut for various resources and should have marketing feasibility. Banana, pineapple, elephant-foot yam, tapioca, dioscorea, sweet potato, ginger and turmeric are ideal crops for intercropping depending on the region where cultivated. Cocoa is most popular crop for multiple cropping system. Cocoa is planted at 2.7m spacing between alternate rows of standing arecanut palms. Black pepper trained on arecanut is another popular multiple cropping system. Cinnamon, coffee, betel vine and cardamom are also grown along with arecanut in certain areas.

   
Harvesting & Postharvest management

In regularly spaced garden, the most common practice of climbers is to climb a palm at one end of the garden, harvest the bunch, then pull the nearest palm with the help of a hook and swing to it. One climber may harvest up to 100 palms by swinging from one palm to the next at a stretch before coming down to the ground. The harvested bunches are dropped to the ground or lowered by using a rope or gunny bag. Ladders could also be used for harvesting individual palms. In certain parts long bamboos with sharp sickle hook attached to the end are also used for harvesting.

The bunches are harvested when they are fully ripe if the end use is chali or kotapak (dried ripe nuts). About 6–7 months old nuts which are dark green and soft are harvested to produce kalipak.

The most important trade types of arecanuts are dried ripe nuts ( chali or kotapak ), kalipak and scented supari. To prepare chali or kotapak, ripe nuts are dried under the sun for 35–40 days. These are then dehusked and marketed as whole nuts. A mechanical through-flow drier as well as a dehusking device have been developed. The well-known grades of chali in decreasing order of sizes are moti, srivardhan, jamnagar and jini .

Kalipak is processed in Kerala and Karnataka. The immature nuts are dehusked and cut into pieces. These are then boiled in water. Usually, the same batch of water is used for boiling 3–4 batches of cut arecanuts. The extract so obtained is concentrated to make a thick kali. The arecanut pieces are given coatings with kali till they have a glossy appearance. A well-dried product with dark brown colour, glossy appearance, crisp chewing feel and well-toned astringency is rated as superior quality.

Iylon , mainly consumed in Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh, is an unboiled variant type well-known in the trade. The nuts used are slightly more mature than those used for kali. Nuli is a variety made from very tender nuts.

Scented supari , popular in north and central India, is of 2 types. The first is made from chali and the other from kalipak. The raw material is broken into bits and essential oil of spices and synthetic flavours, rose essence or menthol are added. These are packed in butter paper, plastic strips or tin and aluminium pouches.

The kalipak and scented supari are used mainly as a masticatory. Chali and ripe arecanuts which leave a large fibrous residue in the mouth are used along with betel leaf and slaked lime. Readymade combinations of these flavoured with clove, coconut gratings and sugar crystals are known as beeda. .

TOP
 
Chromosome Number: 18
Taxonomic Classification
Class
:
Liliopsida
Order
:
Zingiberales
Family
:
Marantaceae
Genus
:
Maranta
 
Arrow root , popularly known as West Indian arrow root, is cultivated mainly in north-eastern and southern states. The erect, slender plants produce long, fleshy, cylindrical, subterranean rhizomes which are the edible part. The high quality starch content of arrow root is used as food for infants. Arrow root biscuits are known in every corner in India. Its starch is also used as special glue and paste as a base for face powder and ice-cream stabilizer. Recently it is also used in production of carbonless paper for computer print out. Arrow root starch is also used in pharmaceutical industries.
   
Climate and soil  
Being a native of tropical America, it prefers hot and humid climate. The temperature of 20°–30°C with a minimum annual rainfall of 95–150cm favours its growth. The availability of sufficient soil moisture throughout the growth period is essential for it. However, waterlogged condition is unfavourable for its growth. A slightly acidic, fertile, deep, sandy loam to loamy soil with better drainage facility is most-suited for its cultivation. Partial shade is ideal for its growth.
 
Varieties
Generally yellow coloured local cultivars are grown. However, cultivars having blue rhizomes give higher yield of starch than yellow coloured cultivars.
   
Propagation
Small pieces of rhizomes (known as bits), 4–7cm long, having 2–4 nodes each, are planted in well-manured pits. Suckers are also used as planting material. They are separated from clump and planted at a distance of 30–45cm in nursery during off season. These suckers grow to new plants which are uprooted and foliages are detached to keep 10cm shoot with intact roots. This is used as planting material. Normally 2 clumps are planted at a distance of 45cm. About 3 tonnes of planting material is enough for a hectare of land.
   
Cultivation  

Planting

The land should be prepared by deep ploughing and bringing soil to fine tilth. raised beds of 15–20cm high are prepared. The size of the bed is kept 50cm × 50cm. The bits/suckers are planted at 30cm distance at a depth of 5.0–7.5cm and covered with soil. Planting is done just before the onset of the monsoon during early-June.

Manuring and fertilization

Apply farmyard manure @ 10 tonnes/ha. If the soil is clay, it is made friable by incorporating organic matter or compost.

Aftercare

After planting of suckers, care is taken to keep the field weed-free up to first 3–4 months of crop growth. As the duration of the crop is relatively longer, the field requires weeding and shallow earthing-up from time-to-time. If growth is poor, add nitrogenous fertilizers at the time of early intercultural operations. After 4 months its crop forms a good canopy cover. The weed infestations become less severe by that time.

Irrigation

The crop is predominantly grown as a rainfed crop. During tuberization and tuber development phase of first 3–4 month in case of irregular rainfall, supplementary irrigation is essential at 10–15 days intervals as per condition of the soil. Optimum moisture supply throughout the growth period gives better yield.

   
Harvesting & Postharvest management

The rhizomes become ready for harvesting 10–11 months after planting. Plants are dug up manually and rhizomes are separated from the plants. It yields 4–7 tonnes/ha. Under favourable conditions, an yield up to 12 tonnes/ha may be obtained.

Small rhizomes are used for generating planting material, whereas bigger-sized rhizomes are mainly used for starch production through further processing. The rhizomes are normally free from decomposition under ordinary storage environment. At some places, rhizomes are stored embedded in dry sand layers in dark. Physical damage to rhizomes during harvesting enhances the chances of deterioration under normal storage condition. 
TOP
 
Chromosome Number: 48
Taxonomic Classification
Class
:
Magnoliopsida
Order
:
Solanales
Family
:
Solanaceae
Genus
:
Withani
 

Asgand is a pantropic native medicinal plant growing all over north-western and central India. Its roots are employed as an ingredient in a large number of Ayurvedic medicines. It has adaptogenic, immuno-modulator, aphrodisiac, anti-stress and mildly sedative properties. It provides remedy for general debility, fatigue, stress-induced disorders, dropsy, dyspepsia, hiccup, joint pains, improves male potency, reduces neurosis and inflammation in the lungs. It contains a large number of alkaloids and withaniols (0.13–0.68%). These are found in the bark. Withaniol group of alkaloids (withanine and pseudo-withanine) are therapeutically important. The roots of cultivated crop contain up to 50% of these alkaloids, whereas roots of wild plants are rich in 3-tropy1 tigolate. Leaves contain anaferine but are not marketed commercially. At present, 4,000–5,000 ha area is under its cultivation mainly in Madhya Pradesh and neighbouring districts (Kota and Churu) of Rajasthan.

Asgand is a perennial, branched, evergreen under-shrub, 60–120cm tall plants. The plants are large,bear simple, opposite, ovate leaves and green to dull yellow flowers. The fruit is a small, globose berry, orange in colour but turning red on maturing. The seeds are small, light, flat and light yellow.

The crop can grow over a wide variety of soils in subtropical, low rainfall regions but prefers well-drained, light sandy loam, medium fertile soils of 6–8 pH. It is grown as a long-duration, winter annual (240 days) on marginal lands in Madhya Pradesh as a rainfed crop. Late winter showers favour its good root development. The cultivated crop grows 30–75cm tall.

Jawahar Asgand 20 is the only high-yielding variety. It produces sparsely branched plants with long tap roots. On maturity, the roots become 1–2cm in diameter only. Thick roots are not favoured because of their high starch content.

Asgand is raised from seeds, sown directly during August-end. The seed rate of 10–12kg/ha is enough. Line sown crop needs half of the given seed rate, sown in rows 25cm apart and facilitates easy interculture. The seeds are treated with Thiram or Diathane M-45 (3g/kg) to protect them from seed-borne pathogens. They germinate in a week. The plants are thinned after 30 days, maintaining a population of 6 lakh plants/ha. Its fertilizer need is very low. Farmers rarely give inorganic fertilizers but 40kg of N and P are sufficient to produce high root yield in low fertility lands. One weeding-cum-hoeing is given to the crop 2 month after thinning.

The roots are dug out during early-February–mid-March when lower leaves begin to dry up. It gives 6–7q of dry roots/ha in well-managed fields. The roots are dried in the sun (8% moisture). These roots are wrapped in gunny bags and stored in well-ventilated cool godowns for a long period without loss in quality. The roots are graded for marketing.

   
 
TOP
 
Chromosome Number: 24
Taxonomic Classification
Class
:
Magnoliopsida
Order
:
Violales
Family
:
Cucurbitaceae
Genus
:
Benincasa
 
It is an annual vine trailing on the ground. It is grown in Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Maharashtra and Kerala.
   
Climate and soil  
It grows well in warm, humid tropical climate. The temperature of 22°–35°C is ideal. Though a deep loamy soil is best suited, it can be grown on heavy clay as a rainfed crop. During summer, the crop can be grown in tank slopes. The optimum pH is 6.5–7.5.
 
Varieties

There are not so many improved varieties of ash gourd. A few developed varieties are described below.

APAU Shakthi

Fruits long, cylindrical, yield 300–350q/ha in 140–150 day duration.

Co 1

Fruits large 8–10kg in weight, suited for cultivation in Tamil Nadu and Kerala. Crop duration is 140–150 days, yield being 200–250q/ha.

Co 2

Fruits small, oblong, weight 2–3kg each, crop duration 120–130 days and yield 300–340q/ha

   
Cultivation  

Ash gourd is sown both as kharif (June–September) and rabi crop (December–January to March–April). It yields better in kharif season than rabi. For direct sowing, 3.5–4.0kg seed is enough. Pits of 45cm × 45cm × 45 cm are dug 2.0–2.5m × 1.0–1.5m apart. In each pit, 5–6 seeds should be sown. After germination, 2–3 seedlings are retained in each pit. Raising seedlings in polybags and then planting in pits prepared in main field gives good yield. Two healthy seedlings can be planted in each pit. The seed rate can be reduced to 1.5kg/ha.

Irrigation

Along the sides of the pits, long channels, 45cm wide are formed and each pit can be irrigated through flow irrigation. The interspace in which the vines are allowed to trail should be kept dry so that the developing fruits do not come in contact with moisture and rot. First irrigation should be given immediately after sowing/planting on the third day and then once in a week.

Crop regulation

Spraying of Ethephon (250ppm) 4 times increase production of female flowers. First spray should be done when plants have 2 fully expanded true leaves (other than cotyledonary leaves). Spraying may be repeated 3 times at weekly interval.

Manuring and fertilization

A basal dose of farmyard manure (20 tonnes/ha) should be given. Then N (40–60kg), P (50–60kg) and K (60–80kg) should be topdressed. The N should be applied in 2 split doses. The last dose of N (20–30kg/ha) should be given 40 days after sowing.

   
Harvesting & Postharvest management
As the fruits develop, they become bigger in size and form an ashy coating on fruit surface. After full maturity the ashy bloom slowly drops off when the fruits become ready for harvesting 90–100 days after sowing. Fruits can be stored in a well-ventilated room for 4–5 months. The average yield is 250–300q/ha.
TOP
 
Chromosome Number: 24
Taxonomic Classification
Class
:
Magnoliopsida
Order
:
Laurales
Family
:
Lauraceae
Genus
:
Persea
 
Avocado or butter fruit is a subtropical, evergreen fruit tree. Its trees can be short, spreading and fairly bushy or grow erect to a height of 20m or more. The demand for this fruit has been increasing over the past few years in many countries. It has become an important fruit in the international trade. Mexico, Brazil, USA, Israel, New Zealand, South America and South Africa are the major producers of avocado. In India, it is grown as a backyard tree and is found in small pockets on hill slopes of Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Karnataka and Maharashtra. It is consumed primarily as fresh and is neither sweet nor acidic. The edible pulp has a nutty flavour with a buttery texture. It is reputed as a nourishing food of high dietetic value. Its nutritional vales are comparable to ripe olives with an average of 2.1% protein, 1.32% minerals and 24–26% fat. It is also a good source of potassium, iron and vitamin B. Since the fruit contains not more than 1% sugar, it is recommended as high energy food for diabetics. Its energy value is twice as much as banana fruit. Avocado is eaten fresh on bread or in salads with lemon juice, salt and pepper, but in India people prefer to eat it after mixing the pulp with sugar. Avocado oil is used in preparation of cosmetics.
   
Climate and soil  
Avocado comes up well in tropical and subtropical climate with a mild winter at an elevation of 600–1,500m and an annual rainfall of 125–180cm. However, it can be grown even in areas with low or ill-distributed rainfall, if the irrigation facility is assured. High humidity during flowering and fruit set is necessary to secure a good crop. Varieties of the Mexican race and its hybrids are well adapted to the cool climates, while the west Indian types are best adapted to the low land tropical conditions of high temperature and humidity. The Guatemalan race is intermediate. Because of the differences in adaptation, avocado offers good opportunity for selecting an appropriate variety for a given climate. Thus, it is presently grown on a commercial scale in different parts of the world having extremely different environment. The climatic extremes range from almost desert condition (Israel) to high land tropics (Mexico) to cool mist belt conditions (Queensland). However, planting of this crop in sites with violent winds should not be taken up or else windbreaks must be provided, as avocado plants have branches that break easily. Cultivation of avocado can be taken up on loamy or sandy loamy soils of alluvial origin having 5–7 pH. This crop is sensitive to waterlogged condition, hence raising on poorly drained soils should be avoided. Shallow soils, soils with gravelly sub-soils and those poor in organic matter are also not suitable for avocado cultivation. It does not tolerate salinity, excepting varieties of west Indian race. This fruit has been grown successfully on a limited scale in India in the hill slopes of Nilgiris, coastal region of Karnataka, Kerala and Maharashtra.
 
Varieties

More than 400 varieties are known in avocado and they are classified into 3 distinct horticultural or ecological races: Mexican, West Indian and Guatemalan. They may be recognized as subtropical, semi-tropical and tropical. Each race is identifiable by their unique characteristics like fruit size, peel, texture and maturity date. The varieties of Mexican race are characterized by anise-scented leaves, small fruits, thin glossy skin, high oil percentage and large seeds. West Indian and Guatemalan races lack leaf scent and bear moderate to large fruits. Like Mexican race, fruits of West Indian race mature in 6 months and contain large seed with loose cavity, while Guatemalan fruits mature in 9 months and have smaller seed and tight cavity. West Indian cultivars have generally fruits with smooth leathery skin and those of Guatemalan possess coarsely granular skin.

Some of the well-known cultivars of these 3 races are as follows:

•  Mexican—Gottfried, Duke, Pernod

•  West Indian—Pollock, Simmond, Black Prince, Fuchsia, Peterson, Waldin 

•  Guatemalan—Taylor, Linda, Queen, Itsamma, Benik.

Many cultivars of commercial significance are hybrids of these 3 races. They are Fuerte, Collinson, Winslowson, Fair child and Long. The most leading avocado cultivar in the world Fuerte, a Mexican × Guatemalan hybrid, bears pear-shaped fruits each weighing on an average of 400g with a smooth, thin, dull green skin and a tendency towards alternate bearing. The pulp has a buttery texture, a rich nutty flavour and contains oil up to 26%. Nabal, Hass, Lyson, Dickinson, Linda, Pollock and Waldin are some important cultivars of California and the coastal Florida. Sri Lanka grows mainly Trapp, Pollock, Dickinson, Duttan, Lyon, Mayapah and Gottfried.

In parts of south India and Maharashtra where avocado is successfully grown, 2 varieties; Purple (West Indian race) and Green (Guatemalan race) are popular. Purple variety bears pear-shaped fruits with a long neck weighing about 450g. The fruits have smooth, moderately thick, leathery skin and the pulp is firm, deep yellow, fine in texture with a rich and nutty flavour. The fruits of Green variety are oval to obovate, large (450–680g) with a rough, moderately thick, brittle skin. The flesh is soft, greenish-yellow with a mild nutty flavour. Single trees of avocado are not productive at times. For want of pollination, hence, while raising a plantation in new area, mixed planting of cultivars is desired instead of mono-clonal stands.

   
Propagation
Although seed propagation is sometimes practised, to ensure superior traits of the parent trees it is necessary to prefer asexual propagation which can be achieved by cuttings, layering, budding and grafting. Budding and grafting are most popular. Seeds quickly lose their viability, and hence should be sown soon after extraction from the fruit. Soaking of the seed in water for about 8hr or removing the seed coat and a thin slice at top and bottom may accelerate germination. Seeds are planted in nursery at a spacing of 30cm × 60cm and then transplanted to polybags when they have putforth 4–5 leaves. When seedlings reach 80–90cm in height, they can be transplanted to their permanent location. Generally, vigorously growing seedlings irrespective of source are used as rootstocks. However, cultivars have also been recognized with specific objectives for using as rootstocks. For example, Duke seedlings are resistant to root rot and cold hardiness and Pollock stock can overcome salinity problem. Similarly, Green and Purple also do well as rootstocks. Green imparts more vigour to the scion than Purple. Side, veneer, cleft grafting or shield budding on 30–40 cm tall, robust, succulent seedlings is generally practised. Trees on rootstocks produced by clonal propagation usually bear fruits early and more uniform than trees grafted on seedling rootstocks.
   
Cultivation  

Planting

Before establishing a plantation, the field should be well ploughed, harrowed and leveled, keeping in mind the possible intercropping, often with vegetables. The commonly recommended spacing is 7m × 7m, but it may vary from 6–12m on the square. The spacing is determined by the crown size of the variety and soil type. Trees in deep soils with a high percentage of organic matter need more space, because they grow taller and larger under these conditions.

Pits of 60cm × 60cm × 60cm are dug and left open to sun for about 10 days. These are then filled with top soil mixed with approximately 30kg of well-decomposed farmyard manure or leaf mould. Add 20 g of superphosphate at the base of the pit for good root growth. Planting can be carried out anytime during the year, but when adequate irrigation facilities are lacking, monsoon is the appropriate time for planting. While planting grafts, it is important to keep the graft-joint well above the ground. Once planting is done, regular watering is essential till the plants establish.

Pruning

Like most tropical trees, avocado has a good natural shape and hence it need not be controlled by pruning. But selective and mild pruning of dead wood, basal branches touching the ground and very old devitalized branches which have seized to produce fruits may be attended to once the harvesting season is over. Severe or unnecessary pruning lowers yield by eliminating potential flowers produced on young branches at the periphery of the tree.

Manuring and fertilization

Nutrient requirements of avocado vary according to variety, spacing and soil type. Before fertilizer application, the basin should be weeded and the fertilizer broadcast but not within 30cm radius of the trunk. After applying fertilizer, irrigation is useful if soil moisture is not adequate.

While, P and K deficiencies are less conspicuous, N and Ca levels in leaf markedly influence yield, fruit size and postharvest quality. The Mg, B and Fe are also important. The growers are advised to get the soil tested and consult soil specialist for specific recommendations. In California, healthy leaves of avocado Fuerte, have been reported to contain 1.8% N, 0.15% P, 1.5% K, 2.2% Ca, 125 ppm Fe, 50ppm Mn, 50 ppm Zn and 45ppm B.

Aftercare

After planting, young trees must be watered and supported by stakes. To protect trees from sunburn, they should be provided with shade. Sometimes, the trunks of the young trees are whitewashed. To start with 60cm 2 basin around the plant is adequate, however, once in a while, size of the basin should be expanded with increase in the canopy size. Other aftercare operations involve regular watering during dry periods, occasional weeding, shallow digging of the basin so as not to injure the surface roots, removing of sprouts on the rootstocks (in case of grafted plants), attending to plant-protection measures and manuring.

Intercropping in young orchards can be taken up by selecting a suitable vegetable crop as it gives additional income to the growers. Moreover, an intercropping system keeps the soil cool, adds organic matter, suppresses weeds, improves soil structure and may fix nitrogen. But these crops should not be raised very close to the avocado trees lest they compete with them for nutrients.

Irrigation

Commercial avocado is successful if trees are regularly irrigated and the frequency should be adjusted depending on soil and weather conditions. The avocado trees show water stress suddenly by shedding fruits and leaves or by wilting as they have shallow root system. Loose and sandy soils require larger quantities of water than heavy soils. Generally in summer, trees should receive irrigation once in 10 days and adequate soil moisture after fruit set is necessary to sustain fruit growth, because any setback in growth is irreversible.

   
Harvesting & Postharvest management
The regular harvesting commences from fourth year. Its fruits are harvested in August-September in south India. They should be plucked when they are fully mature which can be assessed by change in fruit colour, fruit size and sometimes the oil content. In Purple variety, fruits are plucked when they show a purplish blush, and in Green when they develop yellow tinge and once the glossy shine diminishes. If fruits are retained for longer periods, they drop before softening. Picking poles (with a net or cloth bag at the end) can be used for harvesting the fruits. Although a 25-year-old tree yields as high as 2,000 fruits, a yield of 400–500 fruits/tree is considered fairly good. Well mature avocado fruits ripen in 4–5 days after harvesting, but ripening can be accelerated by ethylene (10 ppm) treatment. Ripening takes place satisfactorily at 15°–21°C and is hampered above 30°C. Mature fruits can be held for a month at 6°–9°C coupled with 80–90% humidity. An extension of shelf-life can be obtained by storing at low temperature after enclosing the fruits in polyethylene bags. The ripening time of fruits stored is generally always less than the non-stored fruits. Packing is done in a single layer in well-ventilated wooden boxes so that they arrive in markets in good condition
Nutritional Value
 
Usage

Can be mashed for guacamole dip, peeled and sliced for salads, sandwiches and burgers or halved lengthwise as a boat for shrimp, chicken and other salads.  They can also be used in hot or cold soups.  For best flavor serve at room temperature except where chilling is specified for dishes such as cold soups or desserts.

Unlike many fruits that typically have a sweet or acidic taste, avocados have a smooth, buttery consistency and a rich flavor. A popular use is as a salad fruit. Avocados are also processed into guacamole and can be used in sandwich spreads. Avocado paste with flavor extracts and skim milk can also be used to make an ice cream.

Oil extracted from avocados can be used for cooking and preparation of salads, sauces and marinades. Avocado oil also can be used for skin care products such as sunscreen lotions, cleansing creams, and moisturizers, or for hair conditioners and makeup bases.

Avocados are often eaten with soy sauce or grated horseradish in Japan. In Europe, avocados are generally served as an appetizer with mayonnaise or salad dressing, or are filled with a seafood cocktail.

 
 
Quick links

Agathi
Almond
Amaranth
Ambrette
Amorphophallus
Annonaceous fruits
Annual flowers
Anthurium
Aonla
Apple
Apricot
Arecanut
Arrow root
Asgand
Ash gourd
Avocado
Agathi, Amaranth, Ash gourd , Beet root , Bitter gourd , Bottle gourd , Brinjal, Broccoli, Brussels sprout, Cabbage, Capsicum, Carrot, Cauliflower, Celery , Chilli, Cowpea, Cucumber , Curry leaf , Drumstick, French bean , Garlic, Kale, Knol-khol , Lablab bean , Lettuce, Muskmelon, Okra , Onion, Indian spinach , Parsley, Pea, Pointed gourd, Pumpkin, Radish, Ridge gourd , Round melon , Snake gourd, Spinach, Sponge gourd , Tomato, Turnip , Watermelon, Potato, Arrow root, Cassava, Coleus, Colocasia, Amorphophallus, Sweet potato , Xanthosoma, Yam bean , Yams, Mushroom, Annual flowers, Anthurium, Carnation, Chrysanthemum, Gladiolus, Jasmine, Orchids, Rose, Asgand, Dill, Guggal, Black henbane , Isabgol, Khasi kateri , Liquorice, Opium poppy , Periwinkle, Pipali, Sarpagandha, Senna, Almond, Annonaceous fruits, Aonla, Apple , Apricot, Avocado, Bael, Banana, Ber, Bread fruit , Carambola , Cherry, Date palm , Durian, Egg fruit , Fig , Grape, Guava, Jackfruit, Jamun, Karonda, Kiwi fruit , Limes, Litchi, Loquat, Macadamia, Mahua, Mandarin orange , Mango, Mangosteen , Olive , Papaya, Passion fruit, Peach, Pear, Pecan, Persimmon, Phalsa , Pineapple, Plum, Pomegranate , Rambutan , Sapota, Strawberry, Citrus, Walnut , Ambrette, Chamomile, Davana , French jasmine, Indian basil , Java citronella , Kewada, Lemon grass, Japanese mint, Peppermint, Spearmint, Bergamot mint, Palmarosa oil grass , Patchouli, Rose geranium , Scented rose , Arecanut, Cashew, Cocoa, Coconut, Coffee, Oil palm , Palmyrah palm tree , Rubber, Tea, Betelvine, Black pepper , Cardamom, Large cardamom , Clove, Coriander, Cumin, Fennel, Fenugreek, Ginger, Nutmeg, Tamarind