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Chromosome Number: 18
Taxonomic Classification
Class
:
Magnoliopsida
Order
:
Sapindales
Family
:
Rutaceae
Genus
:
Aegle
 
Bael is an indigenous fruit tree of India. The deciduous tree with trifoliate aromatic leaves is traditionally used as sacred offering to ‘Lord Shiva’. It is commonly planted in temple gardens. As wild, bael is found in Uttar Pradesh, Orissa, Bihar, West Bengal and Madhya Pradesh. There is no systematic or regular plantation of bael except in Uttar Pradesh. Fruit is a hard-shelled berry and very well-known for its medicinal properties due to marmelosin content. Mature fruits as astringent, digestive and stomachic are usually prescribed for diarrhoea and dysentry. The ripe fruit is tonic, restorative, laxative and good for heart and brain.
   
Climate and soil  
Owing to hardy nature, bael tree has a wide adaptability to adverse soil and climatic conditions. It requires subtropical climate where summer is hot and dry, and winter is mild. Plants can be grown even up to an elevation of 1,200m. They are not damaged by temperature as low as –7°C. A well-drained, sandy loam soil is ideal. It can thrive even on poor, clay and stony soils. It can stand sodicity up to 30 ESP and salinity up to 9ds/m EC.
 
Varieties
There is no improved cultivar for commercial cultivation. Some popular types named after their locality are cultivated. The important ones are Mirzapuri, Kagzi Gonda, Kagzi Etawah and Kagzi Banarasi. Recently some selections such as Narendra Bael 1 (oblong) and Narendra Bael 2 (spherical) have been found very promising.
   
Propagation
Bael is usually propagated by seed. The seedling are not true-to-type and exhibit large variability. Budding is becoming popular. It is essential to raise seedling to be used as rootstock. The seeds do not have dormancy, hence fresh seeds are shown in June in a well-prepared bed mixed with decomposed farmyard manure and sand. Seeds germinate within 3 weeks. The seedlings become ready for transplanting 7 weeks after sowing. These seedlings are ready for budding after a year. The scion shoots should be selected from mother plants which are prolific-bearer. Patch budding is ideal method with a 90% success rate. June–July is ideal time for it.
   
Cultivation  

Planting

Bael plants should be planted at a distance of 8m × 8m (budded plants) or 10m × 10m (seedlings). Pits of 90cm × 90 cm × 90cm × 90cm size are dug and filled with a mixture of top soil + 25kg farmyard manure and 50g gamma BHC up to a level of 6cm from the ground level. Irrigate the pits to settle down the soil. February–March or July–August is the right time for planting.

Training/pruning

Young plants are trained with the help of stakes so that they can grow straight. To provide good framework of the individual tree, the tip of main stem should be removed at a height of about 1m. Select only 4–6 well-spaced branches. Pruning in bael is normally not done. Dead, diseased, weak and crossing branches are pruned off.

Manures and fertilization

Little or no systematic work has been done on its nutritional requirement. Plant produces a number of fruits hence application of manures and fertilizers is beneficial. Apply 10kg farmyard manure, 50g N, 25g P and 50g K/plant to one-year-old plants. This dose should be increased every year in the same proportion up to the age of 10 years. Farmyard manure should be applied in beginning of May. Half dose of N, full dose of P and half dose of K should be given just before flowering. Remaining half dose of N and K should be given in the last week of August. Manures and fertilizers should be spread under whole canopy of the tree. It should be incorporated well in surface soil. Irrigation should be given immediately.

Irrigation

Plants need to be cared for watering. Basin system providing more uniform distribution of water should be used for irrigation of young plants. Irrigation to young plantation should be given at 20 days interval in summer. In bearing orchard, first irrigation should be given just after manuring and fertilization. Irrigation at monthly intervals should be given after the rainy season (October–April).

Aftercare

Bael plants are most susceptible to waterlogging, care should be taken to avoid such a condition. Suckers appearing from rootstock should be removed periodically. Keep the plantation weed-free. Legume crops can be taken as intercrops in bael plantation during the rainy season.

   
Harvesting & Postharvest management

Since bael is widely used for preserve-making, hence mature green fruits are ideal for harvesting. Fruits become fully mature 8 months after fruit set. At this stage shell (peel) changes from deep green to light green and flesh (pulp) from light yellow to deep yellow. Ripe fruits are mostly used for beverage-making hence they should be harvested at ripe stage. Fruits take about 11 months after fruit set to ripen on the tree. Tree becomes in leaf less condition and fruits are completely exposed. Fruits should be harvested individually from the tree along with a portion of fruit stalk. They should not be allowed to drop or fall on the ground otherwise a minor crack in the shell can cause spoilage during their storage.

Bearing in budded plants starts 5 years after planting and trees give 100–150 fruits/tree or 18–20 tonnes/ha at the age of 10 years. Seedling trees require 8 years to bear fruits, giving 200–300 fruits/tree or 20–30 tonnes/ha at the age of 12 years.

Bael is a climacteric fruit, taking about 11 months to ripen on the tree. Its ripening can be advanced by 45 days with pre-harvest treatment of Ethephon (1,000ppm) during first week of February or 9 months after fruit set. There is no standard practice for grading of bael fruits. Fruits are mostly packed in gunny bags and sometimes in baskets for transportation and marketing. Care should be taken that fruits should not develop any crack while packing, transportation and marketing otherwise it will get spoiled due to fungal infection. Storage life of bael fruits depends on the stage of harvesting. Fruits harvested at full maturity (light green colour) can be stored for about 15 days, whereas those harvested at ripe stage (greenish-yellow colour) can be stored only for a week. In cool storage, they can be stored for about 3 months at 9°C and 85–90% relative humidity. Raw or mature green fruits are most suitable for making preserve. Ripe fruits can be processed into quality beverages (ready-to-serve nectar, squash and cider), jam, toffee, powder and other products.

   
Physiological Disorders
Fruit drop and cracking in bael before ripening are main problems. Growth-regulators 2, 4-D, GA3 and 2, 4, 5-T with various concentration check fruit drop to a reasonable extent. Cracking can be minimized by maintaining proper moisture up to full growth or maturity of fruit. Chilling injury (appearance of brown spots on the fruit surface) develop during storage of fruits below 9°C.
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Chromosome Number: 22,44,55,77, 88
Taxonomic Classification
Class
:
Liliopsida
Order
:
Zingiberales
Family
:
Musaceae
Genus
:
Musa
 
Banana and plantain are widely grown in India with great socio-economic significance, interwoven in the cultural heritage of the country. Banana is fourth important food crop in terms of gross value exceeded only by paddy, wheat and milk products and forms an important crop for subsistence farmers. It is also a dessert fruit for millions apart from a staple food owing to its rich and easily digestible carbohydrates with a calorific value of 67–137/100g fruit. Being a rich source of vitamin C and minerals, it makes healthy and salt-free diet. Owing to its multifaceted uses—from underground stem up to the male flower—it is referred as Kalpatharu (a plant of virtues). In India, banana contributes to 31.72% of the total fruit production. India is the largest producer of banana in the world. Andhra Pradesh, Assam, Bihar, Gujarat, Karnataka, Kerala, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Orissa and West Bengal are major banana-growing states, the highest productivity being 52.18 tonnes/ ha in Maharashtra followed by Gujarat (40 tonnes/ha). The lowest productivity is from the north-eastern region.
   
Climate and soil  

Banana is well-suited for cultivation from humid subtropical to semi-arid subtropics up to 2,000m above mean sea-level. In India, it is successfully grown from 8°N to 28°N latitudes with a temperature of 15°–35°c and a rainfall of 500–2,000mm/year. At higher altitudes, banana cultivation is restricted to a few varieties like ‘Hill banana' which can be grown successfully without any deterioration of quality and specific aroma. Bananas grown under mid-subtropical conditions have better-quality fruits, as they develop better aroma with crisp pulp.

Mean temperature of 20°–30°c is optimum for its growth. Its growth declines with increase or decrease in mean temperature. If bunch emergence coincides with low temperature, it results in inflorescence emerging through pseudostem. Chilling temperature results in similar malformed bunches. Temperature above 36°–38°c causes scorching effect with increased transpiration. High temperature in combination with water stress cause loss in growth. Water stagnation in poorly-drained soils also leads to slow growth. The plants collapse in extreme cases. Apart from temperature and water, wind poses a major constraint in banana production. High wind results in uprooting and collapse of plants. Avoidance of bunching during the period of high wind velocity is advocated through adjustment in time of planting.

Banana can be grown in all kinds of soils having good drainage. In sandy loam soil plants grow faster compared to vertisol or clay loam soil. Though soil pH of 6.5–7.5 is optimum, banana can be grown in soils having a pH up to 8.5 with suitable amendments. More organic amendments are essential in sandy as well as heavy soils.

 
Varieties

India has an array of cultivars grown throughout the country depending upon preference, resource availability and production system . Dwarf Cavendish and Robusta are widely-adopted commercial bananas owing to high yield, wide market acceptability, ability to withstand wind, short duration and high economic returns/unit area. Poovan is another important banana grown widely due to a wide range of adaptability and tolerance to many biotic and abiotic stresses. Rasthali is significant in commercial production, especially for excellent-quality fruits. Nendran is an important banana in Kerala and Tamil Nadu.

Dwarf Cavendish (AAA), syn. Basrai, Bhusawal, Jahaji, Kabuli, Pacha Vazhai, Mauritius, Morris, Kuzhi Vazhai, Sindhurni, Singapuri and Vamanakeli

It is the leading commercial cultivar contributing to 58% of the total production owing to its high yield, ability to withstand strong winds, short crop cycle, good response to micro-irrigation and high economic returns/unit area. It is being cultivated in Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, Gujarat and Bihar. It possess female and persistant male bracts with flowers. Fruits are yellowish-green or yellow in tropics, and in subtropics with brownish dots spread all over them. Several superior clones are under advanced stage of evaluation. Gandevi selection known as ‘Hanuman' or Padarse is gaining popularity despite having longer crop duration. The selection produces bunches weighing 55–60kg and performs better under light soil condition with higher inputs.

Robusta (AAA), syn. Bombay Green, Pedda Pacha Arati and Harichal Borjahaji

It is a semi-tall sport of Dwarf Cavendish and is an important cultivar in Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh and parts of Maharashtra. The plants bear bunches weighing 25–30kg each with good-sized slightly curved fruits. Plants take approximately a year to complete their life-cycle. Like Nendran it is freshly planted every year. Propping requirement makes the crop investment intensive. It is highly susceptible to sigatoka leaf spot limiting its cultivation in humid areas but is resistant to Panama wilt.

Grand Naine (AAA)

It is a tall mutant of Dwarf Cavendish. It is gaining popularity among the growers in Maharashtra and Karnataka. Plant characters resemble with Dwarf Cavendish except for its robustness, well-spaced hands, fingers of bigger size and heavy bunches. It bears bunches weighing 25–30kg with uniform long fingers throughout the bunch. However, it requires propping unlike Dwarf Cavendish.

Rasthali (AAB), syn. Amrithpani, Malbhog, Mortman, Rasabale, Kulfiait, Sabri, Salsikola and Poovan

This is the choicest table banana for its tasty, crisp, good sour-sweet blended and pleasant flavoured fruits. Plant is medium-statured. Crop takes about 13–15 months to come to harvest with bunches weighing 15–18kg each. It has about 6–7 hands with bold, stout fruits, turning golden-yellow on ripening. Hard lumps and fruit cracking are the major physiological disorders.

Poovan (Mysore AAB), syn. Alpan, Champa, Chini Champa, Dora Vazhai, Karpura Chakkarakeli and Palayankodan

Poovan is a popular cultivar grown all over the country in a perennial cropping system. It is the leading commercial cultivar of southern and north-eastern states. It is distinguished from other cultivars by its pink pigmentation on the ventral side of the midrib when young. It bears heavy bunches weighing 20–24kg each with closely packed short and stout fruits having a conspicuous beak. The fruits/bunch vary from 150–300. Though fruits are slightly acidic and crop duration is 16–17 months, its ease of cultivation and hardiness make Poovan a popular cultivar. However, it is severely affected by banana-streak virus.

Nendran (AAB), syn. French Plantain, Rajeli and Bhorot

Nendran is the most prized cooking variety used in Kerala, fetching a premium price during festive occasions. The banana products exported till date to the Gulf countries are only made from Nendran. It is also being cultivated in Tamil Nadu. Plant is slender with distinct pigmentation in younger leaves and pink shade on the pseudostem. Male axis is not naked but is covered with persistent male bracts and flowers. Bunch weight varies from 8 to 15kg with 30–50 fingers/bunch. Fruits have a distinct neck with thick green skin turning buff-yellow on ripening. The fruits remain starchy even on ripening. A number of ecotypes of Nendran, viz. Zanzibar, Otta Moongil, Moongil, Kali Ethan, Valiettan, Manjeri Nendran, Chengalikodan, Nedu Nendran, Chenganacheri Nendran, Attu Nendran, Myndoli and Padali Murian—are known.

Hill Banana (Pome, AAB), syn. Virupakshi, Sirumalai, Mala Vazhai, Vannan, Marabale and Ladan

An elite banana of south India, it is preferred for its fruits having unique aroma and taste, fetching double the price over other banana varieties. Long-duration crop, tall stratured, small bunches and curved fruits are constraints. Bunches weigh 11–13kg each having on an average 60 stout fruits/bunch. Fruits have a very good keeping quality. Pulp is not so juicy but rather dry and sweeter. It is grown mainly under perennial system of cultivation on the hills of Tamil Nadu and Karnataka.

Red Banana (AAA), syn. Lal Kela, Chenkadali, Chevvazhai, Yerra Arati, Anupam, Chandrabale, Kembale and Agniswar

An elite banana, it is grown for red-skinned, delicious fruits. Its pseudostem is bold, robust and 2.5–3.0m tall. The male axis is also pigmented. It has 5–8 persistent male flowers, hands followed by a bare fertile axis. It is a shy-yielder, bunches weighing 20–22kg each have 70–90 fruits. It has long duration of cropping (16 months). This cultivar was grown only in backyard gardens. Of late, it is cultivated commercially in Kerala and Tamil Nadu.

Monthan (ABB) syn. Bontha, Karibale, Bontha, Kachakel and Madhuranga Bale

It is fairly tall and robust, growing to a height of 2.5–3.0m. Stem is yellowish-green without pigmentation and very shiny. Inflorescence is bold and hangs parallel to the pseudostem. Since male flowers and pseudostem piths are highly relished as vegetables and owing to heavy-yielding capacity, this culinary variety till now restricted to backyards has entered into commercial cultivation in Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Andhra Pradesh and Orissa. Its bunches weighing 18–20kg each bear 60–70 fruits which are bold, stocky, knobbed and pale-green. A few allied members of Monthan are suited for making chips.

Ney Poovan (AB), syn. Njali Poovan, Elakki Bale, Ney Kadali, Hoobale, Vadakkan Kadali, Deva Bale, Putta Sugantha and Safed Velchi

Once, a delicate backyard cultivar of choice, it now assumes commercial monoclonal cultivation. Elakki Bale occupies large areas in Karnataka under cultivation. It is a slender, medium-tall banana taking 12–13 months for its crop cycle. The bunch orientation is horizontal. Average bunch weight is 18–20kg with small fruits packed closely having a wind-blown appearance. Flowers are pink. Stamens have pollen and style is bent. Pulp is ivory-coloured, firm, sweet, having good aroma with conspicuous ovules. Fruits have good-keeping quality. It fetches double the price than other cultivars.

Karpuravalli (ABB), syn. Kanthali, Jammulapalem Collection, Pisang Awak, Bharat Moni, Chinali, Pey Kunnan, Kosta Bontha and Jhurmani Kanthali

It is a hardy crop and is getting popular in marginal soils. Tolerance to drought, salt and wind, ease of cultivation and high productivity have favoured its commercial cultivation in Tamil Nadu and other states. Its plants are about 3.0m tall, robust with light pink-streaked pseudostem. It takes 16 month to harvest, bearing bunches of 25–35kg each. Fruits are neatly arranged with a spring like geometric orientation. Very sweet fruits are conspicuosly ash coated, beaked and do not drop off when ripe, making it suitable for long-distance transportation. With its suitability for juice and wine-making, it has a better future.

Besides, Matti Amritsagar, Dudhsagar, Sakkai, Chakia and Manohar bananas are also under commercial cultivation with regional preferences.

Promising hybrids

A few hybrids have also been developed in banana. Of these, H 1, H 2, CO 1, Fhia 1 and Fhia 3 are promising.

      H 1: A promising hybrid for subsistance cultivation, it has medium to high resistance to leaf-spot, fusarium wilt and burrowing nematode. Medium-tall in height, its plants bear 14–16kg bunch without propping. Elongated fruits turn attractive golden-yellow on ripening. Slightly acidic nature of fruits vanishes upon full ripening with high sugar content. It has a remarkable early-ratooning ability completing 4 crop cycles in 3 years. Multilocational trials have shown its acceptability among growers and consumers especially in humid areas.

      H 2: It is a medium-statured banana, growing 2.13–2.44m. Crop cycle is short with bunches coming to harvest in 11–12 months. Average weight of the bunch ranges from 15–20kg with short, stout, dark green Poovan like fruits which are arranged very compactly. Fruits are slightly acidic with pleasant, sweet-sour aroma.

      Co 1: It is a promising pome hybrid. It retains the typical acid/apple flavour of Virupakshi even when grown on plains contrary to Virupakshi which develops aroma only when grown at higher altitudes. However, its commercial adoption has remained restricted due to small-sized bunch and low fruit yield. 

      Fhia 1 (Gold Finger): The hybrid belongs to Pome group with genomic constitution of AAAB. It is a potential commercial banana. It is resistant to Sigatoka and wilt, producing bunches weighing 18–20kg each. Fruit quality is comparable with Pachanadan. Thus, this hybrid appears to be the best alternative to Pachanadan.

   
Propagation

Banana is propagated through suckers or corms. Sword-suckers with a well-developed rhizome, conical in shape with lanceolate leaves and actively growing central buds, weighing 500–750g are generally used. In western and central Maharashtra, well-developed rhizomes with dormant lateral buds and ‘dead' central bud are used. Apart from these, cut rhizomes called ‘Bits' and ‘Peepers' are also used successfully.

Propagation through shoot-tip culture is cost-effective for the production of disease-free plants. In-vitro propagated banana is becoming popular. Micropropagation has been preferred over conventional propagation owing to its faster multiplication, uniformity in planting material and disease-free material from transmissible pests and diseases. In-vitro propagated plants are becoming a commercial reality along with fertigation.

Time of planting

Time of planting is determined by the choice of cultivar, agroclimatic conditions and market demand. Sigatoka-susceptible banana Dwarf Cavendish, when grown in humid region, by adjusting time of planting, bunch emergence in rainy season is avoided. In subtropical conditions, planting time is adjusted to avoid shooting in winter season. However, in tropical conditions shooting during high wind time is avoided by adjusting time of planting. Time of planting for long duration cultivars is different from short duration ones. In Tamil Nadu, banana Dwarf Cavandish and Nendran are planted from February to April, while Poovan and Karpuravalli in November–December. In Maharashtra, there are 2 distinct seasons of planting, ie, September–October and June–July. With the adoption of drip irrigation and fertigation, shooting is advanced, thus time of planting is adjusted accordingly to meet market demand.

Tall-growing varieties are planted 2.0–2.5m apart and wider spacing is also followed in plantations identified for leaf purposes. Commercial banana Poovan, Rasthali, Nendran and Robusta are maintained at 2.1m × 2.1m spacing, while dwarf cultivars Dwarf Cavendish, Kullan and Jawari Bale at 1.8m × 1.8m.

High-density planting in banana has gained popularity. The planting densities for different cultivars is given in . With the adoption of drip irrigation, double-row system of planting is largely followed in Maharashtra. In this system, 2 rows are planted closely with wider space after every 2 rows. This system reduces cost on dripper, facilitating cultural operations. High yield/unit is an added advantage.

   
Cultivation  

Depending upon resource availability, cultivars, traditions and marketing, different production systems are adopted.

Homestead or backyard cultivation

In traditional growing regions, homestead cultivation of banana is common. The choice of cultivars is governed by family requirements and quality preference of the household. Backyard cultivation is traditional because of the ease in establishment, availability of area around farmhouse, minimum capital investment, ease of monitoring and sharing of labour among family members. Homestead farming is characterized by improper spacing, inadequate use of fertilizer and pesticides, high productivity and longer crop duration.

Mixed cultivation

Banana is planted predominantly as a commercial shade crop for coffee on Palney and Shevaroy hills, contributing to income in initial years. Banana Virupakshi, Sirumalai and Ladan are grown due to their adaptability to higher altitudes without any deterioration in fruit quality and tall stature of the plants. Perennial system of cultivation is another important feature.

In coastal regions of Karnataka, Kerala and Andhra Pradesh, banana is grown in coconut and arecanut plantations with tall cultivars. Apart from these palm crops, banana plantations are intercropped with ginger, turmeric, elephant-foot yam, cotton, gourd and other vegetables to exploit maximum income/unit area.

Multistorey system: It is commonly followed in coastal plantations of Karnataka and Kerala where crops with different canopy levels are planted. High-density planting with coconut and arecanut forming the upperstorey followed by banana, next with tapioca and lower-most storey with colocasia, turmeric, ginger and garlic. High input management is its important feature. Semi-tall banana Poovan and Ney Poovan are preferred in this system.

   
Harvesting & Postharvest management

System of planting

Depending on tradition, resource availability and existing constraints planting systems vary in different regions. Pit planting is commonly followed in garden land system of cultivation. Pits of 60cm × 60cm × 60cm size are dug, filled with a mixture of soil, sand and farmyard manure in a 1: 1: 1 ratio. Suckers are planted in the centre of the pit and soil around is compacted. This is mostly followed in biennial plantations for Dwarf Cavendish, Rasthali, Robusta, Poovan and Karpuravalli banana. In Gujarat and Maharashtra, furrow planting is practised. After land preparation, 30–40cm deep furrows are made, either manually or with a ridger. Suckers are placed at required spacing, farmyard manure is applied around, mixed with soil and tightly packed round the suckers. This facilitates reduction in cost of pit opening incurred every year. Furrow planting is practised in annual planting system.

Trench planting is practised in wet land cultivation of Cauvery delta region of Tamil Nadu. Land is prepared like paddy using plenty of water and guage wheel. Water is drained from the field allowing to set for a day. Planting is done by simple pressing the suckers into the wet field. After a week 15cm deep trenches are opened both ways maintaining 4 or 6 plants in each block. Deepening of trenches by 20–25cm is taken up every month after planting till suckers put forth 1–3 leaves. During third month trenches are broadened and deepened to 60cm. In rainy season, same trenches are used for draining out excess water. Trenches are also used for dumping cut plants, suckers and leaves for decaying under anaerobic conditions. After about 2 months, trenches are cleaned, decayed manure is used for plants for organic recycling.

Manuring and fertilization

Banana being heavy feeder requires very large quantity of nutrients for growth and yield, accounting for 20–30% of the total cost of production. Choice and quantum of fertilizers, time of application, mode of application and frequency of application vary depending upon cultivar, production system and agroclimatic conditions.

All the macro- and micro-elements are required by banana. Their requirement, however, depends on their function and availability. Among macronutrients, N is most essential element. For normal plant growth and development 100–250g of N/plant is advised depending on nutrient status of soil and cultivar. Urea is commonly used as a source of N. It should be applied in 3–4 splits. Application of 150g N in vegetative phase and 50g N in reproductive phase enhances the yield and delays the leaf senescence. Application of 25% N as farmyard manure and 1kg neem cake is beneficial. The application of 25% N in organic form, 75% N in inorganic form along with growing of green manure crops like Crotalaria is ideal.

The P requirement of banana is comparatively low. Superphosphate forms the major source of P followed by the application of rock phosphate 50–95g/plant at planting. In acidic soils, triple superphosphate or diammonium phosphate is recommended. Phosphorus is applied in single dose at the time of planting and quantity of P 2 O 5 depends upon soil type and varies from 20 to 40g/plant.

Potassium is indispensible in banana nutrition due to its role in vital functions. It is not stored and its availability is influenced by temperature. Thus continuous supply is required to be assured at finger-filling stage. Application of K (100g) in 2 splits during vegetative phase and 100g in 2 splits during reproductive phase is recommended. Application of 200–300g K 2 O is recommended depending upon cultivar. Invariably, plantains require higher K than other group of cultivars. Muriate of potash is invariably used as source of K. But in soils with pH above 7.5, potassium sulphate is advantageous. Fertilizer recommendation for banana in different states are given in.

Calcium influences yield through its interaction with N, P and K. In acidic soils, use of dolomite (MgCO 3 ) and limestone (CaCO 3 ) as soil amendments is common. Magnesium, an important component of chlorophyll assumes a vital role in normal growth and development of the plant. In acute deficiencies foliar spraying of MgSO 4 is found to relieve the plant. Although widespread sulphur deficiency in soils has been reported, but it is not serious in banana. Sulphur uptake is active during sucker to shooting stage but after shooting, sulphur supply comes from leaves and pseudostem. Among micronutrients, Zn, Fe, B, Cu and Mn play an important role in normal growth and development of banana. The application of Zn (0.1%), B (0.005%) and Mn (0.1%) improves yield. Important symptoms of mineral deficiencies in banana are given in .

Water management

Depending on water availability, banana is grown either as rainfed or irrigated or wetland crop. Most of the AAA and AAB clones are grown under irrigated conditions, while ABB clones are raised as rainfed crop. However, in commercial cultivation irrigation is a major input. Water requirement of banana varies from 1,800–2,200mm. Nendran, Robusta and Dwarf Cavendish bananas should be irrigated at 20–40 cumulative pan evaporation (CPE), while Poovan at 60 CPE and Karpuravalli at 80 CPE. Soil-moisture stress at active growth stage and finger-filling has deleterious effect.

Normal furrow and basin and trench systems are followed. The furrow or basin system is useful if water availability is not a constraint. Trench method is followed especially in wetland system of cultivation. Of late, drip irrigation system has become popular in Maharashtra and many other states where water is not plentiful. In drip system, water is supplied through laterals and discharges through emitters in the root zone. The system not only economizes the water by 40–50%, early harvest is achieved with higher yield/unit area. Use of fertilizer through drip (fertigation) also helps achieve high productivity. The fertigation is also becoming popular, wherein required quantity of nutrients are given through soluble fertilizer or liquid fertilizer.

Flood irrigation is followed in garden land cultivation, where plenty of water is available. Temporary bunds are made around a block of 10–20 plants for convenience and irrigation is carried out block-wise.

Weed management

Weeds reduce yield up to 40–50% depending upon cultivar and soil. First 6 months of growth are most critical for weed growth. The plantation has to be kept completely weed-free. In garden lands of Maharashtra, bullock-drawn cultivators are commonly used in between rows to keep orchard weed-free. Regular hand- weeding is essential. In wetland cultivation, turning of top soil to bury the weeds after complete wetting the field followed by no irrigation for 15–20 days is commonly followed to check weed growth for 2–3 months. Apart from cultural practices, chemical control using 0.4% Glycel spray is also effective. But an integrated management of weeds by intercropping cowpea, soil mulching with sugarcane trash and paddy straw and one spraying of Glycel is economical.

Aftercare

Surplus and unwanted suckers should be kept under control for better growth and yield of the mother plant. Desuckering once in 45 days is a common practice in banana plantation. In a young plantation of up to 2–3 months, emerging small suckers are simply headed back with a sharp knife. In later stages , removal along with their rhizomes is a must. For that a crow bar of 1 m with a flattened, spoon-like edge is used and care is taken not to damage the mother plant. Cutting back the sucker and pouring kerosene (4ml) into the small gouged cavity made in the centre or injection of kerosene from the side of the sucker just above the meristem can also be adopted.

Setting a sucker for ratooning is important to maintain higher productivity of the orchard. When three-fourths of the plants in the orchard are in flowering, one sucker is allowed and set for ratooning. At one-and-a-half to 2 months stage the sucker is given a cut to chop the vegetative growth and allow the rhizome to enlarge. At the time of harvest, set sucker is ready for the ratoon corp.

In south India, the set suckers of biennial and perennial plantations are headed back once at 2-month stage to arrest apical growth and allow rhizome enlargement.

Intercropping is a common practice in banana orchards to check weed growth, improve soil health and to augment the additional income. In initial years, soybean, cowpea, beans and yam are grown. In Maharashtra, growing of onion as an intercrop is common. Turmeric and ginger as intercrops are more economical. The crops which can attract nematodes or soil-borne diseases should be avoided. Brinjal or cucurbits should not be grown.

Mulching helps conserve soil moisture and suppress weed growth. Organic mulching also improves soil health. Sugarcane trash @ 10 tonnes/ ha provides effective mulching for conservation of moisture. Paddy straw, dried leaves and Pongamia leaves can also be used. Experiments have proved the superiority of polythene sheet mulching for better conservation of moisture and suppressed weed growth.

As the young plants grow, and lower leaves dry, they are separated from pseudostem and fall apart. To avoid weakening of the pseudostem, it is a common practice to tie all the leaf sheaths with a dried banana leaf. This operation is done periodically at bimonthly intervals. Dried or diseased leaves are also required to be removed at regular intervals to reduce disease load and also to give exposure to sunlight. For maximum yield, a minimum of 10–12 leaves are required to be retained on the mother plant.

Strong wind is a threat for successful banana production. Though planting season is carefully chosen in areas where strong winds are a routine menace, propping becomes essential for tall cultivars. Lodging of plants is due to the selection of weak suckers, shallow planting leading to poor anchorage, damage by pests, diseases and nematodes, extra large bunches and removal of adjacent, deep-rooted suckers. Bamboo or Casurina poles are commonly used. These poles have effective life of 3–4 years. Props using polythene wire can also be practised. Propping should be done immediately after bunch emergence to avoid overloading on the prop.

Removal of male bud after completion of the female phase is referred to as ‘denavelling'. It serves the dual purpose of saving movement of food into unwanted sink and also earns additional income as it is used as vegetable.

Bunch covering is practised for Cavandish and Silk groups of bananas to get attractive colour. Under subtropical condition, covering of bunch by using perforated polythene bags increases the yield by 15–20%. Covering bunches by dried leaves is also practised to avoid direct exposure of peduncle to sun. Uncovered peduncle when exposed to sun is scorched and secondary infection of Colletotrichum causes poor filling of fingers.

Nutritional Value
 
Usage

Banana is a general term embracing a number of species or hybrids in the genus Musa of the family Musaceae . Most edible fruited bananas, usually seedless, belong to the species M.acuminata Colla (M.cavendishii Lamb. Ex Paxt., W.chinesis Sweet, M.nana Auth. NOT Lour., M.zebrina Van Houtee ex Planch.), or to the hybrid W.X paradisuase L. (M.X sapieritum L., M. acumianta X.M. balbisiana Colla). M.balbisiana Colla of Southern Asia and the East Indies, bear a seedy fruits but the plant is valued far its disease-resistance and therefore plays an important role as a ‘parent', in the breeding of edible bananas.

Musa, a plant genus of extraordinary significance to human societies, produces the fourth most important food in the world today (after rice, wheat, and maize). Musa species grow in a wide range of environments and have varied human uses, ranging from the edible bananas and plantains of the tropics to cold-hardy fiber and ornamental plants. They have been a staple of the human diet since the dawn of recorded history. These large, perennial herbs, 2–9 m (6.6–30 ft) in height, evolved in Southeast Asia, New Guinea, and the Indian subcontinent, developing in modern times secondary loci of genetic diversity in Africa, Latin America, and the Pacific.

 
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Chromosome Number: 18
Taxonomic Classification
Class
:
Magnoliopsida
Order
:
Caryophyllales
Family
:
Chenopodiaceae
Genus
:
Beta
 
produces a thickened root and a rosette of leaves first year and flowers and seeds the second year. The flower stalk grows to a height of about 1.2m. The calyx continues to grow after flowering, becomes corky and covers seeds completely. This forms what is commonly called beet seed, it is in reality a fruit seed ball containing usually 2–8 seeds. The true seeds are small, kidney-shaped and brown in colour. A gram of seed ball counts about 50 seeds which retain its viability for 5–6 years under ordinary storage condition. Beet is an important crop for low inputs and high yield from a small
   
Climate and soil  

It is less sensitive to heat, requires sufficient day light and has low wind sensitivity and less water requirement. Thus it can grow in almost every climate. Being fairly hardy, it is generally considered as a cool weather crop. Although beet grows in warm weather, it usually attains better colour and quality when produced under cool and moist conditions. In India, it grows best during winter in plains. It requires abundant sunshine for proper development. Beet is most productive at 20°–22°C. Where summers are hot, it is produced as an early spring, fall or late winter crop. It develops best during warm sunny days and cool nights. It can be grown in mild climate of hills round the year. Although it is biennial in nature, if the plants are subjected to relatively low temperature of 4.5°–10°C, for 15 days or longer some plants start bolting (formation of flower-stalks) in field before attaining marketable size. Temperatures above 26°C can make roots tough and lower sugar content. Good quality beet grown in cool weather has a high sugar content and dark internal colour throughout the root. Under unfavourable conditions, beet shows alternate white and coloured circles when sliced. This zoning of beet is more prominent in hot weather.

Beet root thrives best in a light to medium heavy soil. Loamy sand, deep, well-drained and fertile soils are preferred. Good beet is produced on a wide variety of soils, but slightly alkaline (with a pH up to 8) is ideal. A loose, rich loam is desirable for producing shapely roots, the lighter types are good for early crop and those of a heavier nature for the main crop. Muck soil is excellent for late beet since it is loose and moist. Soil should be thoroughly prepared by ploughing 15–20cm deep followed by planking 4–5 times to pulverize and make it friable. The surface of soil should be smooth, loose and free from clods and trashes. Well-rotten farmyard manure or compost is also added at the time of land preparation

 
Varieties

Beet varieties are classified on the basis of shape of roots—flat, short, top shaped, round or globular, half long and long. The varieties recommended for cultivation are round or globular-shaped. However, a few other varieties of which seeds are imported are also cultivated for domestic use. The recommended varieties for cultivation are:

Detroit Dark Red

Its tops are small, leaves glossy dark green, tinged with maroon (more prominent in older ones). Venation is prominent, midrib is thin from dorsal side and appears to be wider because of spreading maroon shade in its vicinity. Roots are perfectly round with deep red skin, tender, firm, crisp, top to round shape with a tap root, showing hardly any zones. Flesh is deep red, fine-grained, tender and corrosive when eaten raw, but exceptionally sweet when boiled. On an average it yields 150–200q/ha. It is suitable for salad making and storage.

Crimson Globe

Its tops are medium to tall, leaves elliptical large and bright green with maroon shade, although venation is prominently coloured in young and older ones. Edible roots are globular to flattened globe, medium red with little shoulders. Roots are early, sweet and tender, valuable for canning and pickling. Flesh is dark red, with hardly any zones and non-corrosive in taste when eaten raw. This is a heavy yielder (>200q/ha) and suitable for salad-making and storage.

   
Propagation
A large part of beet crop is grown from seeds sown where the plants mature for root development. A few early beet roots are grown from plants started in the greenhouse or hot beds. For producing elite seeds stecklings or roots are selected for its true shape and checking of the internal colour by cutting a ‘V’-shaped nick 1.5–2cm deep vertically on one side of each selected root depending upon root size. Thus dark coloured roots without zoning are selected and replanted for producing a commercial seed crop.
   
Cultivation  

Planting

Proper soil preparation is the key to success of root production. Ideal beet root bed needs a deep, rock-free soil. Its seeds are sown directly, spaced between lines 35–45cm when cultivating on ridges and 30–40cm on flat beds. Plant spacing of 10–15cm within the line is maintained by thinning. For taking early crops, seedlings are raised under greenhouse on hot beds or cold frame. Beet root is the only root crop that justifies the extra expense of raising seedlings and planting in the field, when the danger of frosting is over. Its nursery should be started 4–5 weeks ahead of field setting and the seedlings are hardened for some time. Hardening should not be prolonged since 30 days exposure of young plants to an average daily temperature below 15°C results in seed stalk formation. During the rainy season, seed should be sown on ridges. Seeds are sown 2–2.5cm deep in pre-watered ridges. They are watered with the precaution that seeds are not washed away from ridges. Raised beds are preferred as they serve the purpose of subdividing large fields into small plots to facilitate irrigation. Raised beds provide the deep, friable soil that root crops require, stay warmer than ground beds (enabling the seed to germinate readily) and allow excess water to drain rapidly. The ideal spacing for commercial beet root production is 45cm × 8cm. Seeds are sown @ 7.5–8kg/ha. Sowing in upper valleys (>1,200m) is carried out from March to April and June to August; in lower valleys (800–1,200m), February to March and July to September and in plains September to November.

For a continuous supply sowing at 2 weeks interval provides its roots regularly. To get better germination, seeds are soaked in water for 5–12hr depending on the temperature. Uniform germination takes place when the beds are not too moist or too dry. Seed balls are placed in the soil in close contact by compacting. High moisture causes damping off. Raking is done to break the crust as seeds sprout poorly in crusted soil. A germination inhibitor in seeds may be removed by soaking them in water for 2–4hr before planting. It can be done by shaking seeds in a bag with gravel or bruising with sand paper or a file before sowing. It helps in germination.

Training and pruning

The top of the beet roots after attaining a fair size can be pruned or thinned to be used as greens. Thinning at 5–10cm distance by pulling the young plants to be used as pot herb is always beneficial.

Manuring and fertilization

Beets must make rapid and continuous growth to develop quality roots, therefore a good supply of available N, P and K is necessary. All the root crops need potassic fertilizers in plenty as these advance tuber and root development. Its growth being rapid, application of 100:50:70kg NPK/ha is recommended for normal soil conditions. A basic dose of 25 tonnes/ha of well-rotton farmyard manure or compost at the time of soil preparation is beneficial. If organic manure is applied, the application of NPK can be reduced. The application of 60:40:50kg NPK/ha is sufficient to obtain optimum roots. A full dose of P and K and one-third of N may be applied as basal dose. Second and third doses of N may be applied as topdressing 5 and 7 weeks after sowing. If the soil is poor in micronutrients, 10kg/ha soil application of multiplex or any good micronutrient combination can be made. Borax @ 11kg/ha can be applied if the symptoms of B deficiency appear. Avoid high dose of compost or manure before planting as it may cause hairy roots and fresh manure results in forked roots.

Aftercare

Weeds in and between the rows in field must be removed. They should be controlled by hand-weeding or hoeing. Frequent shallow cultivation should be done at regular intervals to keep the crop weed-free and facilitate soil aeration and proper root development. Early weeding is critical in any root crop. If early weedings are not done the good crop of beets cannot be taken. Chemical weed control in beet fields may be practised. Hand thinning of seedlings when they are 6–8cm tall is very important, since each fruit or seed ball contains more than one seed and the plants come up in clumps. Thinning is done until individual plants are 8–10cm apart. When the roots are 2.5cm in diameter, pull every other one of the row, water well and mulch to keep down weeds and conserve moisture. These uprooted young plants are required by processors and green leaves can be used as potted herb.

Irrigation

Irrigation time is very important. If rain is not sufficient, irrigation at 7–10 days intervals is ideal. Deficiency of water may lead to reduction in size. The water requirement of beet is about 300mm applied in 5–6 irrigations. If there are winter rains only 3 irrigations are sufficient. Assured irrigation with 2.5cm water a week should otherwise plants bolt and the roots crack or become stringy and tough. The key to a sweet tasting beet is even soil moisture and rapid growth. Soil should be kept moist throughout. If soil dries and water is added it causes root splitting.

   
Physiological Disorders

The internal black spot or brown heart or breakdown of beets is caused due to deficiency of B in neutral or alkaline soils. Hard and corky black spots are scattered throughout the root, but are always found in the light coloured zones. The light coloured zones are youngest cells of beet and are actively growing. Its deficiency affects young cells and tissues first. The younger leaves of the plants tend to be more strap like than the older leaves or may become malformed and one sided in shape. Detroit Dark Red variety of beet shows comparatively less symptoms of B deficiency. Borax if applied @ 11.2kg/ha in soil checks its deficiency symptoms.

If seeds are sown early and the temperature is high, beet roots produced are often coarse and with woody flesh and dull in colour. If too much fresh manure or compost is added shortly before planting or growing in rocky or heavy soils, poorly formed, hairy roots develop.

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Chromosome Number: 48
Taxonomic Classification
Class
:
Magnoliopsida
Order
:
Rhamnales
Family
:
Rhamnaceae
Genus
:
Ziziphus
 
Ber or Indian jujube is indigenous to India. The fruits are rich in vitamin C, A and B complex. The composition varies in different varieties. Its leaves contain 5.6% digestible crude protein and 49.7% total digestible nutrients, making it a nutritive fodder for animals. Haryana, Punjab, Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan, Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh, Bihar, Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu are major ber-growing states. Hisar, Rohtak, Jind, Panipat, Mohindergarh and Gurgaon (Haryana), Bharatpur, Jaipur and Jodhpur districts (Rajasthan), Sangrur and Patiala districts (Punjab), Banaskantha and Sabarmati (Gujarat), Bijapur and Bellary (Karnataka), and Tirunelveli, Ramanathapuram, Dharmapuri and Salem (Tamil Nadu) are ber-growing areas in India.
   
Climate and soil  
Ber grows under varying conditions of climate all over India even at elevations up to 1,000m above mean sea-level. It can withstand extremely hot conditions but is susceptible to frost. The trees shed leaves and enter into dormancy during summer. Under moderate climate of south India, however, the trees continue to grow throughout the year. It is extremely drought hardy owing to its deep root system and other xerophytic characters. The tree prefers atmospheric dryness for development of good quality fruits. High atmospheric humidity is distinctly disadvantageous. Ber is not particularly exacting in its soil requirement. It can grow on a wide variety of soils—sandy, clayey, saline and alkali soils. Once established, it can withstand even 21mm hos/cm salinity in soil.
 
Varieties
More than 300 varieties have been listed but only a few are commercially important. They are Umran, Banarasi Kadaka, Mundia, Seb, Gola and Kaithali. Ber Gola, Seb and Mundia are suitable for extremely dry areas, whereas Banarasi Kadaka, Umran and Meharun for the dry regions and Sanaur 2, Meharun and Umran for comparatively humid regions. In northern India, Gola is earliest to ripen, Kaithali and Mundia are mid-season and Umran late cultivar. An early-maturing selection from Umran, known as Early Umran or Gohma Kirti has been identified at Godhra (Gujarat). Gola ber is tolerant to saline soils.
   
Propagation

Most common method of propagation of ber is by I or T (shield) budding. Rootstock seedlings are raised by sowing seed kernels extracted by breaking the stone (endocarp). These germinate in about one week. The seed stones can also be sown as such but take nearly one month to germinate. Germination of seed stones can be improved by soaking them for 48hr in water or for 6hr in concentrated sulphuric acid or in 200ppm Gibberellic acid. Seeds of any locally adapted and vigorous ber trees can be used for raising rootstocks.

Seeds should be sown in a well-prepared nursery bed at 30cm × 30cm spacing and at 2cm depth during March–April. These seedlings could either be transplanted in the field during July–August for in-situ budding or can be budded in the nursery beds. The budlings can be transplanted in bare rooted condition during January–March after treatment with 12 % Waxol or after defoliation. This is, however, possible only in irrigated areas.

In rainfed areas, seeds should be sown in 300 gauge polythene tubes of 25cm length and 10cm diameter, filled with a 1:1:1 mixture of farmyard manure, sand and clay. Sowing is done during April in north India so that the seedlings become buddable during July. The budlings become ready for transplanting 1–2 months after budding. The budlings raised by this technique retain their deep rooting tendency and prove the most suitable under the low rainfall drylands. In drylands, ber orchard can also be raised by transplanting tube-raised ber seedlings with the onset of monsoon, leaving them to grow in the field until the forthcoming summer for budding in situ .

   
Cultivation  

Planting

Beginning of monsoon is best time for planting. Pits of 60cm × 60cm × 60cm are dug during summer and refilled after mixing 2 baskets of farmyard manure and 50g of Heptachlor dust to protect from termite attack. Planting is done at a spacing of 6m in low rainfall areas and 8m in the irrigated regions or in those receiving higher rainfall. In rainfed areas, shaping the interspaces between tree rows to provide 5% slope towards the plant helps accumulate run-off water during monsoon and thereby results in higher establishment success. In irrigated areas, ber plants can be transplanted during January–March also. In sandy soils, placing subsurface barriers of bentonite clay reduce infiltration of water and thus increases success.

Training and pruning

During the first 2–3 years after planting, ber trees should be trained to develop a strong framework. After that old growth is beheaded during March keeping 1–2 nodes above the graft union to induce vigorous new growth. One upright growing vigorous shoot is retained to develop into main trunk which is kept clean of secondary branches up to 30cm height from the ground level. On the main trunk, 3 or 4 well-spaced and favourably located main branches are allowed above when it is headed back. During the second year, these main branches are also clipped retaining 3–4 secondary branches on each of them. This process is continued to develop tertiary branches. Upward growing shoots are retained at each stage to develop an upright tree stature. Not more than one upright growing shoot is retained at a node so that narrow crotches are avoided. This basic frame of the tree is maintained by removing of water sprouts as and when they emerge. Correction in the framework is done at the time of annual pruning.

Annual pruning in ber is essential to induce maximum number of new healthy shoots which would bear good quality fruits. It is also essential to remove the undesirable, weak, intercrossing, diseased and broken branches to avoid crowding and to encourage healthy growth for maximum fruit bearing. Pruning is done during the hot and dry season when the tree sheds leaves and enters into dormancy. In Tamil Nadu, the trees are pruned during January–April, in Maharashtra pruning must be completed by the April-end and in Haryana by the May-end . Severity of pruning also differs at different locations. In general, light pruning, at about 25 buds, is the best. However, pruning could be done at 15–20 buds under more moderate climatic conditions. All the secondary shoots should be completely removed. To avoid the occurrence of long unfruitful basal portions of branches as a result of light pruning for several years, half the past season's shoots are pruned to 20 buds and the remaining half to the basal 1 or 2 nodes. Spraying of 3% thiourea or potassium nitrate once in 2 days before pruning induces bud sprouting from maximum number of nodes.

Manuring and fertilization

Ber orchards are seldom manured. However, productivity of trees can be improved if manuring is done every year. The dose depends on fertility status of different locations. A dose of 750g N/tree gives highest yield, whereas 250g N and 250g P 2 O 5 increase fruit yield. Application of K does not give any response.

In sodic soils, ber can be successfully planted even when the pH is over 8.5 and ESP is over 21% by amending the soil of the pit prepared for planting by addition of gypsum.

Interculture

Leguminous intercrops such as mungbean, mothbean and cowpea can be grown under rainfed conditions. Gram, chilli and other vegetables can be grown between tree rows until the trees occupy full space. Interculture should be done to remove weeds which cause losses of nutrients and water and act as alternate host for the diseases. Cover cropping with Stylosanthes sp. and moth bean improves fertility and moisture status of the soil.

Irrigation

In rainfed areas, arrangement for in-situ water harvesting should be done by giving 5% slope to the inter-row spaces towards the trees. Black polythene mulch helps conserve soil moisture and improves growth of the trees. Anti-transpirants like 0.1% power oil and 7.5% Kaolin also conserve water.

Irrigation during November—February at 3–4 week interval should be done in Punjab and Haryana, but irrigation during October causes flower shedding and that during March-April causes fruit spoilage and delays ripening.

   
Harvesting & Postharvest management

Ber matures 150–175 days after flowering. A preharvest spray of 750ppm 2-chloroethyl phosphoric acid (Ethephon) at colour turning stage induces early maturity. Fully mature fruits are harvested by picking. Picking should be done in the forenoon.

The time of harvesting depends on agroclimatic conditions of the location and cultivars. In south India, the fruits are harvested during October–November, in Gujarat during December–March, in Rajasthan during January–March and in north India during February–April. The average yield during the prime bearing period (10–20 years) ranges 80–200kg/tree. In dry areas, under rainfed conditions, 50–80kg fruits /tree can be obtained. Fruits do not ripen after picking. Over-ripe fruits lose their eating quality and storage life. Therefore, fruits which are just mature and have shining yellow colour should be harvested. At this stage, the fruits contain the desired sugar:acid ratio and ascorbic acid content.

The harvested ber should be sorted to discard the damaged, over-ripe, unripe and misshapen fruits. Then the fruits should be graded into large, medium and small-sized groups. For local markets, fruits are generally packed in cloth sheets or in gunny bags but for long distant transport and packing should be done according to grades. While A grade fruits can be packed in perforated cardboard cartons of 6 kg capacity with paper cuttings as cushioning material, the lower grades can be packed in baskets or gunny bags. Ber fruits can be stored for 10–12 days after packing in perforated polythene bags at room temperature. The storage life can be prolonged to 30–40 days by storage at 3°C and 85–90% humidity. Pre-cooling of fruits at 10°C immediately after harvest increases shelf life by about 3 days when subsequently stored at room temperature. Preharvest spraying of 1% calcium nitrate and dipping of the fruits before storage in 500ppm Captaf also improve their shelf-life. Ber can be processed to prepare murabba , candy, dehydrated ber, pulp, jam, and ready-to-serve beverage.

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Chromosome Number: 96
Taxonomic Classification
Class
:
Magnoliopsida
Order
:
Lamiales
Family
:
Lamiaceae
Genus
:
Mentha
 
Bergamot mint or lemon mint is a glabrescent aromatic herb, robust in growth like Japanese mint. It has similar broad ovate leaves but without a distinct inflorescence. The flowering vertices are borne in upper part of the stem in axil of leaves. The oil has an odour reminiscent of lavender oil due to its containing high linalool (45–50%) and linalyl acetate (45%) contents. The yield of herb and oil is similar to Japanese mint. A high-yeilding variety, Kiran, produces 150kg of oil/ha, containing 48% linalool. The cultivation practices are similar to those of other mints. It grows well in subtropical, fertile plains of north India. About 50–60 tonnes of oil is produced in the country annually, fetching price akin to oil of Japanese mint. The oil is mainly used in perfumery industry.
   
 
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Chromosome Number: 32
Taxonomic Classification
Class
:
Magnoliopsida
Order
:
Piperales
Family
:
Piperaceae
Genus
:
Piper
 
Betelvine or pan is a perennial, dioecious, evergreen creeper grown in India. It is a chewing stimulant. The crop is highly labour-intensive and particularly suited to small holdings. Once established, it becomes a perennial source of employment and cash flow for day-to-day income of the farmers. It is an important cash crop in Andhra Pradesh, Assam, Bihar, Karnataka, Kerala, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Orissa, Tamil Nadu, Tripura, Uttar Pradesh and West Bengal with an annual turnover of about Rs 700 crores. Its leaves are exported to Pakistan, Bangladesh, Indonesia, Malaysia, Burma and Thailand.
   
Climate and soil  
Betelvine requires tropical climate for its luxuriant growth. The favourable conditions are moist soil and shady place with high humidity. It grows well where the rainfall is high. It is generally grown on different types of soils—heavy clayey loam, laterite and sandy loam. However, soil with good organic matter and drainage system is best-suited for its cultivation.
 
Varieties
There are a number of varieties recognized by the growers and traders. Based on shape, size, brittleness, taste of leaf blade and other characters, betelvine is classified into different types—pungent and non-pungent varieties.
   
Propagation
Betelvine is propagated through cuttings having 3–5 nodes planted in such a manner that 2–3 nodes are buried in the soil. A single node cutting with a mother leaf is also planted. Cuttings of the apical and middle portions of the vine are used for planting. Betelvine is cultivated under fast-growing plants which provide support as well as shade. Under artificially-created shed known as Boroj, Bareja etc. it is also cultivated. Besides, mixed cropping with arecanut, coconut, jackfruit and mango is followed on a limited scale.
   
Cultivation  

Construction of Bareja or Boroj

Barejas are normally made on raised slightly slopy land. It is constructed with locally-available materials—bamboo, jute sticks, straw etc. Its shape may be square or rectangular with a height of 2–2.5m. Usually a wide passage (0.5–1.0m) is provided inside along the wall of the bareja. The walls and top of the bareja are covered with thatching material like leaves of coconut, wild datepalm, sugarcane, straw, grass and jute stick. It should be constructed near a source of irrigation. The site must be at a higher level than the adjoining area. There must be a slope in all directions for a quick drainage of excess water.

Raising of support plant in open cultivation

Plants of Sesbania grandiflora, S. sesban, Erythrina variegata and Moringa oleifera are raised to provide support and shade. They are sown in 45–60cm rows at least 45 days before planting the cuttings of betelvine.

Land preparation

Land is prepared well by 4–5 ploughings. It should be raised by 5–10cm from the adjacent areas. It is done by applying soil collected from ponds or tanks. The land is raised with proper gradient on both sides for quick drainage of excess water. Before use, the soil should be pasteurized by solarization technique. In Maharashtra, the selected land is ploughed twice and harrowed 4–5 times before levelling. In Madhya Pradesh, the land is first dug manually. Then it is irrigated, pulverized and levelled. Afterwards, beds of suitable size (15cm high and 30cm broad) are prepared.

Soil treatment

Soil is moistened occasionally and covered during hot summer months (March–May), when the soil temperature rises sufficiently, to destroy inoculum of soil- borne pathogens. Soil solarization is advocated in Madhya Pradesh, West Bengal, Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu before establishing new gardens for better plant stand and to minimize initial inoculum levels.

For new plantations, application of Carbofuran @ 1.5kg/ha or neem cake (0.5 tonnes/ha) + Carbofuran (0.75kg/ha) is also recommended to minimize initial soil nematode population. However, Carbofuran should not be recommended in established gardens at any stage because a time gap of 65–70 days as safe waiting period is required between application and harvesting of leaves.

Planting

The onset of monsoon is ideal time of planting. But where support plants are used, the planting may be done up to October-end. Nearly 40,000–75,000 cuttings are used for a hectare where support crop is used, whereas 1,00,000–1,20,000 cuttings/ha are sufficient in bareja (closed) system of cultivation. Rooted cuttings raised in nursery are also planted. The planting season varies from state-to-state and even place-to-place. Planting is done in rows.

Training/pruning

Young sprouts creep along and require support 1 month after planting. Trailing is done by tying vines on support crop or stalks. In Bareja system, jute sticks or bamboo sticks are placed by the side of the creeper as supports and tied with grass or banana fibre to facilitate trailing. Tying is also done at 20–30cm intervals when vine trails up to a height of 2.22m and touches the roof of the bareja . They are untied from the support and lowered down to the ground level by harvesting the lower leaves, keeping 4–6 leaves at the top.

In open system, side branches of supporting trees are removed up to a height of 2m for better growth of vines. Training is done by fixing the vines loosely along the standards with the help of banana fibre or easily available material at 10–15cm intervals. Training is done every 15–20 days depending upon the growth of vines.

Manuring and fertilization

Castor cake, linseed cake, sesamum cake or neem cake are applied as manure @ 15 quintals/ha. The cake is first rotted in water in a big earthen pot for 6–8 days. Then it is applied in the form of a slurry. Oilcakes in powder form are also applied in the rainy season.

Nitrogen @ 200kg/ha/year as farmyard manure or oil cakes should be applied. A dose of 100kg each of P 2 O 5 and K 2 O/ha/year, is also recommended. The fertilizers should be applied in 4–6 split doses at 2–3 months intervals.

Aftercare

As vines reach to a certain height, leaves are harvested from the lower portion of the stem. Lowering is done during March–April (1 time) in Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh and Bihar, during May–June in Andhra Pradesh; during January–February or April–May in Tamil Nadu and 3–5 times in West Bengal and Orissa. In West Bengal and Orissa, after every lowering stem is covered with loose soil brought from out side. In open system, soil is dug and stem is coiled and lowered and thereafter covered with soil.

Irrigation

Betelvine requires high soil moisture. Frequent light irrigation is necessary depending upon the season. Irrigation should be need-based. The flood irrigation should be avoided. Since over irrigation or excess water causes wilting of plants, proper drainage is essential during rainy season.

   
Harvesting & Postharvest management

Mature leaves are plucked along with a portion of petiole. They are plucked by hand without any aid. However, in certain areas iron nail is used to facilitate plucking. In Karnataka and Tamil Nadu, leaves are plucked from side shoots. In south India, comparatively tender leaves are preferred in the market. After plucking, they are washed thoroughly and made into bundles according to the prevailing custom of the area. On an average, about 60–80 lakh leaves are harvested annually from one hectare garden.

Harvested leaves are wahsed, cleaned and graded according to their size and quality. Then they are packed after cutting a portion of the petiole and rejecting the damaged leaves. All growers do not grade their leaves. The picked leaves are sorted into different grades according to size, colour, texture and maturity. After that, they are arranged in numbers (the number varies from place-to-place) for packing. Grading and packing of leaves are very specialized jobs. For packing mostly bamboo baskets are used and in many places straw, fresh or dried banana leaves, wet cloth etc. are used for inner lining.

Usually betel leaves are used for chewing as fresh unprocessed. But in certain areas, leaves are subjected to processing known as bleaching or curing. There is a good, demand for such leaves which fetch higher prices in the markets. Bleaching is done by successive heat treatments at 60°–70°C for 6–8hr. 

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Chromosome Number: 22
Taxonomic Classification
Class
:
Magnoliopsida
Order
:
Violales
Family
:
Cucurbitacea
Genus
:
Momordica
 
It is cultivated mainly in tropical and sub-tropical regions of the world. In India, Maharashtra, Kerala, Karnataka and Tamil Nadu are major bitter gourd-growing states. Momorcidin gives the characteristic bitter taste to its fruits.
   
Climate and soil  
A well-drained, loamy soil with a pH of 6.5–7.0 is ideal for its cultivation. A long period of warm, dry weather with 30°–35°C temperature is optimum. The minimum temperature should not go below 18°C. If temperature goes above 40°C, more male flowers are produced and plants become prone to mosaic disease.
 
Varieties
A number of improved varieties have been developed
   
Cultivation  

Sowing

June–July and December–January are sowing time in south India, whereas January–February in north India. For direct sowing in pits 4–5.5kg seed is enough for a hectare. If sown in polybags and transplanted in pits 2.5–3.0kg seed is sufficient. Long channels 60cm wide are formed. Along these channels pits of 45cm × 45cm × 45cm size are dug. Keep a spacing of 1.5–2.0m from row-to-row and 1.0m from hill-to-hill. The seeds are soaked in water for 24hr and kept in moist gunny bags for 2–3 days. This helps in rapid germination. In direct sowing, 4–5 seeds should be sown in each pit. After germination 2–3 seedlings are retained in each pit. For planting 15-day-old seedlings are directly planted @ 2 seedlings.

Irrigation

Water the crop immediately after sowing or planting, on third day and then once a week depending upon the soil moisture.

Manuring and fertilization

Apply farmyard manure @ 20–25 tonnes/ha at the time of field preparation. A dose of 20kg N, 30kg P and 30kg K/ha should be applied by mixing with top soil in pits. Application of Azospirillum and phosphobacteria is also recommended to improve yield and quality of the fruit. During flowering (45–50 days after sowing), a topdressing of 20kg of N/ha should be applied and irrigated.

Intercultural operations

As vines start growing, bamboo stakes should be provided. The vines are trained on these stakes to reach the erected pendal. Spraying of MH (150–200ppm) or Ethrel (250ppm) at 2-leaf stage (twice) at weekly intervals increase production of female flowers.

   
Harvesting & Postharvest management
The fruits are ready for picking 60–70 days after sowing. Tender, immature fruits should be harvested. Immediately after harvesting, the fruits are washed in water and dried. Then they are neatly arranged in bamboo baskets on newspaper for sending to market. Its yield potential is 100–150q/ha.
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Chromosome Number: 32
Taxonomic Classification
Class
:
Magnoliopsida
Order
:
Solanales
Family
:
Solanaceae
Genus
:
Hyoscyamus
 

Black henbane is a popular ancient herb used in treatment of asthama and whooping cough because of sedative, cholingeric and antispasmodic properties of its leaves. It also provides relief in gripping pain in intestinal disorders. In India, its small scale cultivation is done in Malwa region in Madhya Pradesh. It is grown as early, short-duration (100 days) rabi crop. Another species, Egyptian henbane ( H. muticus ), also yields tropane alkaloids, producing higher herbage yield. Owing to its long duration (200–240 days), it is not cultivated in India. The herb at flowering is harvested and is traded in commerce. The leaves of black henbane contains on an average 0.05% of total alkaloids mainly hyocyamine, hyocine and atropine. The hyocyamine make up 90% of it.

Black henbane is a medium (160cm tall), large branched, erect herb distributed over temperate parts of the western Himalayas, from Kashmir to Garhwal hills in Uttar Pradesh. Leaves are simple, large, oblong to triangular ovate in shape with long broad lamina. Flowers are large and pale-yellow in colour, nearly sessile with funnel-shaped corolla. Fruit is ovoid berry, 1cm long, containing numerous, light, reniform seeds, brown to black in colour. Approximately 2,000 seeds weigh 1g. It is a long day plant.

A variety, IC 6, is popular because of its short duration. An unbranched mutant, Aela, is a high-yielding (50–60q/ha). It contains higher alkaloid content but is largely seed sterile. The recommended varieties grow luxuriantly on sandy-loam to silt-loam and well-drained fertile soils in central and western India with a pH of 5.5–8.0. The sodic clay-loam soils can also be utilized for its cultivation through use of gypsum. The crop demands dry cool climate, whereas extreme temperatures and high atmospheric humidity or high soil moisture conditions are unsuitable. Both direct-sown crop and nursery-raised transplanted crops can be easily grown. The direct-sown crop matures 20–30 days early and also produces higher herbage yield. Seeds are very small. These are soaked in water for 12 hr and air-dried. After these are mixed in sand (20 times its volume) and sown 0.5–1cm deep in rows 30cm apart during early October (or November) where spring vegetables follow it in the field. Seed rate of 3kg/ha for direct-sown crop is enough. The fields are well prepared. Farmyard manure is mixed @ 10 tonnes/ha and 40kg each of N, P and K is added at land preparation. The crop is given a light irrigation just after sowing and another 20 days after sowing. The plants are thinned 40 days after sowing in rows, maintaining plant-to-plant distance of 30cm, accommodating 75,000 plants/ha. Seeds germinate in 7–10 days. The crop is given 40kg of N in 2 splits after thinning and 20 days after respectively. In all, 5 irrigations are given depending upon autumn showers.

The crop (IC 6) is harvested 100/110 days after sowing at 50% flowering stage. The plants are cut over ground by sickle. The herb is dried in the shade for 3–5 days. Around 200–250 plants are left in the field as seed bearers which give enough seed to plant one hectare crop in the next season. An average yield of 25 q/ha of dry herbage is obtained. This is packed in polythene lined gunny bags and stored in dry cool godowns. It has hygroscopic nature and may absorb moisture which may lower its quality significantly. Considering its world demand, it has good scope for expansion in area for export of alkaloids from India.

   
 
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Chromosome Number: 52
Taxonomic Classification
Class
:
Magnoliopsida
Order
:
Piperales
Family
:
Piperaceae
Genus
:
Piper
 
Black pepper, the king of spices, is being cultivated on a large scale in India. Over the years (1992–96), there has been expansion in area under black pepper in India. Indian pepper reaches homes in 75 countries, the North American region being the major importer of Indian pepper. In India, it is grown in Kerala, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, Andaman and Nicobar Islands and Pondicherry. India is also a major consumer of black pepper.
   
Climate and soil  
So far 10 varieties and hybrids have been released for cultivation. On an average the yield ranges from 1.09 tonnes/ha (Panniyar 5) to 2.677 tonnes/ha (Sreekara). Panniyar 1 and Panniyar 3 are the F1 hybrids.
 
Varieties
Black pepper is a crop of warm humid tropics. It requires adequate rainfall (200–250 rainy days with a total annual rainfall of 2,000–3,000mm) and a dry spell of 30–45 days before flowering with the onset of rains and high humidity (75–95%). The hot and humid climate of submountainous tracts of Western Ghats are ideal for its cultivation. It grows successfully up to 1,500m above mean sea-level. The crop tolerates temperature between 10°C and 40°C. Black pepper thrives best on virgin, well-drained, red, lateritic or alluvial soils rich in humus. The pH of 4.5–6.0 is ideal. Pepper is grown in red loam, sandy loam, clay loam, and red lateritic sandy clay loam soils; but virgin soils rich in humus of the hill slopes of the Western Ghats are best-suited for its cultivation.
   
Propagation
Black pepper has 3 types of aerial shoots—terminal shoots, runner shoots originating from base of vines and fruit-bearing lateral branches with limited growth. It is propagated through shoot-cuttings. Seed propagation is also possible but not followed. Runner shoots are generally used. The lateral shoots on rooting give rise to bush black pepper. Runner shoots from high-yielding and healthy vines are kept coiled on wooden pegs fixed at the base of the vine to prevent shoots from coming in contact with soil and striking roots. The runner shoots are separated from vines during February–March and after trimming leaves, cuttings of 2–3 nodes each are planted either in nursery beds or in polythene bags filled with fertile soil. Adequate shade should be provided and watering be done frequently. The cuttings strike roots and become ready for planting in May–June. Rapid multiplication of black pepper has become popular in India. It is advantageous because besides multiplication being rapid there is better field establishment of vines and more vigorous growth. The protocols are also available for its micropropagation through direct regeneration from explants of leaf, stem, terminal and side buds. The tissue cultured plants of black pepper are also now available.
   
Cultivation  

Planting

Black pepper, being a climber, needs standards for support. Pepper is also trained on coconut, arecanut, jackfruit tree etc. in a mixed homestead farming. The live standards are used at a spacing of 2.7 × 2.7m, accommodating 1,100 vines/ha in its monocropping system. But in multiple cropping system, prevalent in Kerala, only 540–560 vines/ha are accommodated. With the onset of south-west monsoon, 2–5 rooted cuttings of black pepper are planted individually in pits on the northern side of the standard.

Training/pruning

As the black pepper cuttings grow, the shoots are tied to standards as often as required. The young vines should be protected from hot sun during summer by providing shade using coconut leaves. Regulation of shade by lopping branches of standards before the south-west monsoon, is necessary not only for providing optimum light to vines, but also for enabling standards to grow straight. Adequate mulch with green leaf should be given (before the end of north-east monsoon) after digging around standards at 1m radius.

Manuring and fertilization

Major pepper-growing tracts in Kerala and Karnataka have in general satisfactory level of N, but are poor in P, K, Ca, Mg and Zn. An application of 140gN, 55g P 2 O 5 and 270g K 2 O/vine/year is optimum. The dose of 50kg N along with 100kg P 2 O 5 and 200kg K 2 O/ha is also good in Kerala. The specific recommendations are: NPK at 100:40:140 g/vine/year for Panniyur region, northern part of Kerala and similar agroclimatic conditions, NPK at 50:50:200g/vine/year and for Calicut and similar agroclimatic region, NPK at 140:55:70g/vine/year. One-third of the recommended dose is applied during the first year which is increased to two-thirds in the second year. Full dose is given third year onwards. The fertilizers are applied in 2 doses, the first half in April with the onset of monsoon and the second half in August–September. The fertilizers are applied at a distance of about 30cm all around the vine and at a depth of about 15cm and the soil is forked in after application. Besides, organic manure in the form of cattle manure or compost is given @ 10kg/vine in May. Application of lime @ 500g/vine during April–May in alternate years is also recommended.

Aftercare

If the terrain of the land is slopy or uneven, carry out contour bunding or terracing to prevent soil erosion. Carry out digging around the standards and vines at 1m radius from the base or in the entire plantation, twice during the year, the first at the onset of monsoon and the second towards the end of north-east monsoon. Weeding around the plants is to be done according to necessity. In the early stages, the vines are tied to the standards, if found necessary. When pepper is grown on plantation scale, growing of cover crops is recommended. When such cover crops are grown, they are to be cut back regularly from the base of the plants to prevent them from twining along with the pepper vines. Lowering of vines after 1 year's growth promotes lateral branch production. Intercropping of pepper gardens with ginger, turmeric, colocacia and elephant-foot yam is advantageous. Banana as an intercrop in yielding gardens, reduces pepper yields. Therefore, banana is not recommended beyond 3–4 years after planting of pepper. However, in the early years, banana provides shade to young plants and protects them from drying up during summer months.

If pepper is grown in open places, shading and watering of young seedlings may be done during summer months for the first 1–3 years. The young plants may be completely covered with dry arecanut leaves, coconut leaves or twigs of trees until summer months are over. Mulching the basins of pepper vines during summer months is highly advantageous. Saw-dust, arecanut husk and dry leaves are suitable mulching materials. Removal of unwanted terminal shoot growth and hanging shoots should be done as and when necessary.

Prune and train the standards in March–April every year to remove excessive over-growth and to give them a proper shape. The effective height of the standards is to be limited to 6m. A second pruning of the standards is to be limited to 6m. It is done in July–August, if there is an excessive shade in the garden.

After regular bearing for about 20 years, the vines of most varieties start declining in yield. The age of yield decline varies from variety-to-variety and also depending on agroclimatic factors and management practices. So, underplanting should be attempted at about 20 years after planting or when a regular declining trend in yield appears. The old and senile vines must be removed 3–5 years after underplanting, depending on the growth of young vine.

Irrigation

Irrigating pepper plants from November/December till the end of March and withholding irrigation thereafter till monsoon break, increases pepper yield by about 50%. The depth of irrigation recommended is 10mm (100 litres water/irrigation at 8–10 days interval) under Panniyur condition. The water is to be applied in basins taken around the plants at a radius of 75cm. The basins may be mulched with dry leaves or other suitable materials.

   
Harvesting & Postharvest management

Pepper berries mature and become ready for harvesting in 180–200 days. In high altitude areas, this period may be more by about 30–45 days. If spikes are harvested before attaining full maturity, 15–20% reduction in the weight of processed material may result.

Black pepper is produced by sun-drying the mature pepper berries for 3–5 days after their separation from spikes by threshing. To give a uniformly lustrous black colour to the finished product and to prevent mouldiness of the berries, a heat treatment is recommended as described here.

Collect suitable quantity of separated berries in a perforated basket/vessel or clean gunny bag. Dip the berries along with the container in boiling water for one minute, take out, drain and spread on a clean surface for sun-drying.

White pepper is produced by collecting fully mature berries (yellow or orange), retting them in clear water for 5–7 days, removing the outer skin completely and drying the seed after thorough washing and cleaning. Black pepper starts yielding from third year onwards. Average pepper yield in India is 273kg/ha, while it is 425kg/ha in Indonesia, 2,000kg/ha in Malaysia and 431kg/ha in Sri Lanka.

The major products are white pepper, canned tender green pepper, bottled green pepper in brine, dehydrated green pepper, pepper oleoresin and pepper oil.  

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Chromosome Number: 22
Taxonomic Classification
Class
:
Magnoliopsida
Order
:
Violales
Family
:
Cucurbitacea
Genus
:
Lagenaria
 
Bottle gourd (Lagenaria siceraria) is grown for immature fruits used for culinary purposes. It is also used for preparation of different types of sweets. Hard shells are used as utensil, floats for fishing nets and in preparation of some musical instruments. Fruit pulp is very good source of fibre-free carbohydrates and fruit pericarp for crude fibre. The oil extracted from kernels of seed, a fine cooking medium, is also used as hair oil. It is cultivated commercially in the Indo-Gangetic plains of north India as summer crop. In rainy season, it is almost equally distributed in plains, lower hills and plateau region. In India, it is cultivated in Uttar Pradesh, Punjab, Gujarat, Assam, Meghalaya and Rajasthan.
   
Climate and soil  

Bottle gourd can be grown on all types of soils if these are not too much acidic (pH less than 5.5) or saline and alkaline. Loam or sandy-loam soil is most suitable. The soil should be rich in organic matter and with good drainage. Salinity and alkalinity adversely affect the crop. Two-year-crop rotation is advised to safeguard the crop from soil-borne diseases.

Slightly wet to semi-dry ecological condition is suitable for this crop. Night and day temperature of 18°–22°C and 30°–35°C respectively is optimum for its proper growth and high fruit set. The day temperature above 40°C may cause scorching of leaves. Temperature lower than 10°C reduces the metabolic activity of seeds for germination. The seed germination is fast at the temperature range of 25°–30°C. The crop grown at optimum temperature has higher proportion of female flowers and fruits/plant. Higher temperature induces emergence of male flowers and wide sex ratio.

 
Varieties

There is a large variation in bottle gourd varieties grown in different states and even in different regions within a state. Important varieties recommended for commercial cultivation are:

Arka Bahar

The fruits are straight, not crook-necked, medium-sized, weighing about 1kg each at edible stage, skin light green. Yields high in mild climate.

Kalyanpur Hari Lambi

It is recommended for planting in both summer and rainy seasons. Fruits are long and slightly dark green in colour. The fruit yield is about 25 tonnes/ha.

NDBG 1

Fruits are uniform light green, long, slightly thinner and curved near pedicel end. Due to less bending, it is convenient for packaging and transportation. It gives early yield in upland conditions though it is highly preferred for diara land area. It is recommended for spring-summer crop for upland and river-basins, the yield being about 25tonnes/ha.

NDBG 4

A promising hybrid, it produces first edible fruit within 55 days. Fruits are near cylindrical long and attractive, the average yield being 30–35 tonnes/ha.

PBOG 1

A promising hybrid, it is quite suited for northern plains.

Phule BTG 1

It is recommended for cultivation in Maharashtra. The fruits are long, bottle-shaped, uniform and green. Average length of edible fruit is about 30–40cm. It produces comparatively more female flowers from basal nodes and it gives early yield.

Punjab Komal

It produces early, oblong fruits. On an average each plant produces 10–12 fruits, weighing 600g each. Duration from fruit set to edible fruit maturity is shortest in this variety. The fruits become ready for picking 70 days after sowing. Female flowers appear on 4–5th node onward. It has tolerance to cucumber- mosaic virus.

Punjab Long

The fruits are long, tender, light green and attractive, its yield being about 20 tonnes/ha.

Punjab Round

Its plants are vigorous and prolific-bearer. The fruits are spherical, tender and shining. It is recommended for cultivation in Punjab.

Pusa Manjari

A high-yielding hybrid, its fruits are round, green, tender and attractive. It has been recommended for cultivation preferably for spring sowing.

Pusa Meghdut

A high-yielding hybrid, it gives comparatively more early yield and is suitable for both spring and summer sowing. Fruits are long, light green, tender and attractive.

Pusa Naveen

Suitable for spring-summer and rainy seasons in northern plains. It performs well in lower hills of Kumaon, Garhwal, Shivalik and plateau of Bihar and Madhya Pradesh in rainy season. The fruits are straight, cylindrical and free from crook-neck. Thickness of fruit is the same from pedicellar to stigmatic end. The edible fruit length is about 30cm and weight about 850g.

Pusa Summer Prolific Long

Its fruits are long, uniform, light green, neck generally bent, suitable for spring-summer as well as rainy season crop but on trellis. The edible fruit yield is about 30 tonnes/ha.

Pusa Summer Prolific Round

A selection from local cultivars, it grows vigorously with prolific-bearing habit. Fruits are round, 15–18cm in girth.

Rajendera Chamatkar

Fruits are long (50—60cm), uniform, green and bottle-shaped, the yield is 20–25tonnes/ha.

   
Cultivation  

Field preparation

The land is ploughed with disc harrow followed by 3 cross-ploughings with cultivator. Well-rotten compost or farmyard manure is mixed in soil at the time of ploughing. Planking after last 2 ploughings with cultivator makes the soil pulverized and levelled. If the soil is infested with nematodes or white ants apply Carbofuran @ 25kg/ha. After levelling the field, 40–50cm wide channels are made at a distance of 2.0–2.5m. The length of channel depends on source of irrigation and slope of land.

Sowing

Generally brownish or whitish-brown seeds germinate well. Bottle gourd seeds germinate poorly for about 2–3 months. Therefore, seed from summer crop should not be sown for the rainy session crop. Water-soaked seeds for 24–48hr germinate quickly. Good seeds if dropped in water settle down and non-viable seeds floats on water surface. About 3–4kg seed is enough for a hectare. The row-to-row distance may be kept at 2.0–2.5m and seed-to-seed 1.0–1.5m. The same distance should also be kept between hill rows and hill-to-hill within row. The later method is generally adopted for rainy season crop.

Manuring and fertilization

Application of manures and fertilizers depends upon the soil status. Add farmyard manure @ 30 tonnes/ha at the time of field preparation. Total P and K and one-third of N can be applied basally, about 8–10cm away from the seeds. The recommendation for N, P and K differ from state-to-state. These should be applied accordingly. Optimum fertilizer combination is needed for proper growth of plant and good fruiting. Nitrogen deficiency causes yellowing of vine and foliage and checks the vegetative growth. Whereas the excess dose promotes excess biomass accumulation which reduces fruiting, higher doses of N also produce more number of male flowers which is undesirable. Deficiency of K reduces plant height and area of foliage causing flower drop and checks the fruiting completely.

Training

Vines of spring-summer crop are allowed to spread between the channel/rows. But the vines of rainy season crop are trained to spread on bower made from thin coconut rope or wire and bamboo sticks. It prevents the fruit from rotting and allows the vines and foliage better exposer to air and light. The marketable fruit yield increases in this system of training.

Interculture

Weeding and hoeing should be done along and between the rows. Application of N and earthing-up should be done before emergence of tendrils. Tall grass growing above the foliage should be pulled up.

Irrigation

In February–March sown crop, first irrigation is given 2–3 days after sowing. After that, irrigation is given at 7–8 day interval. In north Indian plains during April–June, the crop should be irrigated at 4–5 days intervals. Care should be taken that irrigation water does not overflow the channels at least in the first 4 irrigations. This prevents the emergence of weeds between the channels. For rainy season crop, the seeds are sown in the first week of June before the onset of the rains.

   
Harvesting & Postharvest management

Bottle gourd may be harvested 55–75 days after sowing. The bottle gourds are edible mature, if the fruit skin colour facing to sunlight is as green as one-week-old fruits. The fruits should be harvested within 3 days of the shedding of the small hairs present on the skin. At this stage, the seed inside pulp is as soft as pulp of the fruit and rind of the fruit is very tender. After this stage, the colour of the fruit skin starts becoming white, fruit rind hardens and seed coat also becomes hard and unfit for eating. While or after harvesting, there should not be no scratch or bruising on skin of the fruit which make it blackish and lower down the market value. Insertion of some soft material, paper, soft grass or any packing material may be done between the fruits. The harvested fruits should be sprinkled with water after every 4–5hr or put in cold store during pre-market period.

The open-pollinated varieties yield 20–25 tonnes/ha, while the yield of hybrids is generally more than 30 tonnes/ha.

The fruits are allowed to ripen fully and even dry. For this, it is better to raise seed crop during summer instead of rainy season. Because of thick seed coat, the seeds do not dry in humid rainy season.

For hybrid seed production, male flower buds of female parent are pinched before flower opening. The rows of female and male parents are kept in the ratio of 2:1 or 3:1. 

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Chromosome Number: 56
Taxonomic Classification
Class
:
Magnoliopsida
Order
:
Rosales
Family
:
Moraceae
Genus
:
Artocarpus
 
Bread fruit is grown throughout the tropics. It is used more as a vegetable than as a fruit. It is eaten after cooking and may be boiled, baked, roasted, fried or made into soups. It is usually cooked after peeling and slicing and makes a good delicacy in combination with ingredients like coconut cream or grated coconut meat. Chips and biscuits can be made from it. The leaves can be fed to livestock.
   
Climate and soil  
A hot, humid, tropical lowland is suitable for its cultivation. The annual rainfall of 1,500–2,500mm and a temperature of 21.1°–32.2°C is ideal. Young plants grow better under shade but later require full exposure to sunlight. It can be grown on a variety of soils provided they have sufficient depth and drainage.
 
   
Propagation
Since bread fruit has no seeds, it is propagated vegetatively. Root cuttings about 2.5cm in diameter and 20cm in length are planted horizontally or at an angle in shaded beds. Root suckers also can be used as propagules. Air-layers made from off shoots can also be used for planting.
   
Cultivation  
June–December is planting time. Pits of 60cm × 60cm × 60cm size are dug at a spacing of 10–12m. There is no exclusive fertilizer recommendation for bread fruit. Organic manure @ 25kg/tree can be applied. Depending upon the age of the plant, NPK mixture (7:10:5) @ 1–2kg/ plant can be applied. Irrigation should be given during summer which helps to check fruit drop. Spraying of Bordeaux mixture (1%) controls fruit rot especially during rainy season.
   
Harvesting & Postharvest management
The tree comes to bearing in 3–6 years depending upon the type of planting material used. The fruits are harvested 60–90 days after emergence of inflorescence. Fruits are available during February–March and June–August. A fully grown tree can yield about 500–2,000 fruits, weighing 1–4kg each.
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Chromosome Number: 24
Taxonomic Classification
Class
:
Magnoliopsida
Order
:
Solanales
Family
:
Solanaceae
Genus
:
Solanum
 
Brinjal (Solanum melongena) is a widely grown vegetable crop in Asian countries. In India, it is adapted to a wide range of climatic conditions from north to south and east to west. In hilly regions, it is grown only in summer. Brinjal is used in a variety of culinary preparations. Pickles and industrially processed foods are also produced.
   
Climate and soil  

Brinjal is susceptible to severe frost. A long and warm growing season with a mean temperature of 20°–30°C is most favourable for its successful production. In northern plains, it is adversely affected during December–February due to low night temperature.

Well-drained and fertile sandy-loam soils with a pH of 5.5–6.6 are best-suited for its cultivation. However, several cultivars are grown successfully under high pH level with a rich application of farmyard manure or green manuring practised before transplanting.

 
Varieties
The improved varieties, bearing maturity, fruit characters, average yield and region for which recommended with special features if any, are listed in Table 1.
   
Cultivation  

Sowing

Brinjal sowing and transplanting time varies according to the agroclimatic conditions of the region. In northern India, it is sown during June–July for autumn-winter crop and in November for spring-summer crop. June–July sowing takes 4 weeks for the seedlings to be ready for transplanting, while November sowing takes 6–8 weeks. The young seedlings are to be protected from winter injury during nights of December and January. Transplanting is done during January–February. In other parts of the country, it is sown from June–September and again from January–March. In Bangalore, where the climate is mild it can be grown throughout the year. In the hills it is sown during March–April.

Seeds of brinjal are sown in finely prepared raised nursery beds which are 20–25cm high alternating with water channels. A sufficient amount of fine and fully decomposed farmyard manure/compost is well-mixed in nursery beds a few days before final preparation. Two days before seed sowing, the nursery beds should be thoroughly drenched with Captan suspension to avoid occurrence of damping of disease in the seedlings. About 200g of seed is sufficient to cover one hectare land.

Brinjal is a long-duration crop. It is a good yielder in soils of good fertility. Heavy yields are obtained with better management practices. Soil is prepared to fine tilth by giving 4–5 ploughings. About 25–30 tonnes/ha of well-rotten organic manure is incorporated into the soil well before the final preparation.

Healthy and stocky seedlings which are free from disease and shoot-and fruit-borer infestation having 3–4 leaves are transplanted. The spacing generally recommended are 60cm × 45cm, 60cm × 60cm, 75cm × 60cm and 75cm × 75cm depending upon size and spread of the plant and duration of the bearing period. Highly vigorous and late-bearing varieties are given wider spacing compared with dwarf, upright and early types.

Manuring and fertilization

Higher soil fertility and better soil conditions have significant effect on its yield. Application of organic manures has positive response on yield. The NPK application alone has less response than when applied in combination with organic manures. Generally, 100–120kg N, 75–85kg P and 45–50kg K are applied. Application of starter solution of N alone or NPK in combination at transplanting time has good effect on yield. Foliar application of 1% urea increases the growth and fruit set.

The problem of micronutrient deficiency in brinjal has not been noticed in the field. The foliar sprays of B, Mn, Cu and Zn stimulate photosynthesis and increase sugar, dry matter and vitamin C contents of the fruits. Yield is also enhanced particularly with spray of Cu. Foliar application of potassium nitrate (KNO 3 2,000ppm), boron and zinc sulphate (500ppm) increase the yield which is attributed to higher photosynthesis and effective translocation of photosynthates.

Interculture

Brinjal being a slow-growing crop is unable to compete with fast-growing weeds. Shallow inter-cultivation is given to remove weeds from the early growth itself. About 3–4 hoeings and weedings are normally needed for an effective control of weeds, proper aeration and good growth of the plants. Mulching in brinjal with black polythene film reduces weed growth, increases crop growth, early bearing and total yield.

Chemical weed control in brinjal is also recommended. Application of Fluchloralin @ 1–1.5kg ai/ha and one hand-weeding 30 days after transplanting give a good crop. Plots treated with Oxadiazone @ 1.5kg/ha or pre-planting application of Treflan (trifluralin) at 0.9–1.5kg/ha also give a good weed control in brinjal.

Irrigation

High yields of brinjal are obtained under optimum moisture conditions. Timely irrigation is essential for good fruit-set and its development. Drip irrigation is beneficial for reducing water use and weed control.

   
Harvesting & Postharvest management

Brinjal fruits are harvested for the market when they have developed to a normal size, have a good colour, are immature, tender and have not lost culinary qualities. The attractive bright, glossy appearance having freshness and an optimum size of fruit are qualities for good market price. The fruits are harvested with stalk at joints where they are attached to the branches. Some cultivars like BR 112 and NDB 25 have soft joints and are easy to harvest while in others help of a sharp knife is needed. Care is taken to avoid injury to the branches.

Frequency of harvesting depends on the size of fruit. Small-sized fruits are harvested more frequently than bigger or heavier fruits. Fruits should be harvested in the afternoon in order to avoid sun-scald. Fruits are sprinkled with water after harvesting to keep them fresh and are packed in baskets or cartons for local or distant markets. Yield varies according to the region, cultivar and duration of crop. Early crops normally yield low (25–30 tonnes/ha) while long-duration crops yield heavy (35–50 tonnes/ha). Many F 1 hybrids give a yield of 45–90 tonnes/ha under high fertility level.

Storage of brinjal fruits at room temperature for many days is not possible. High respiration and water loss during storage affect the appearance and cooking quality. Fruits packed in polythene bags and kept at room temperature can stay fresh for some more days. Brinjal fruits are better stored at 10°C than 6°C and also in perforated polythene bags than in open boxes. Fruits can be stored successfully for 2–3 weeks at a temperature of 10°–11°C and 92% relative humidity. 

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Chromosome Number: 18
Taxonomic Classification
Class
:
Magnoliopsida
Order
:
Capparales
Family
:
Brassicaceae
Genus
:
Brassica
 
It is of 2 types—heading and purple or green sprouting. Sprouting broccoli is more popular in India. Heading broccoli forms curds like cauliflower, while sprouting broccoli contains a group of green, immature buds and thick fleshy flower stalk forming a head. In India, its cultivation is negligible but now it is becoming increasingly popular in hotels in Mumbai, Calcutta, Delhi and Chennai. It is mostly cultivated in the hilly areas of Himachal Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, Jammu and Kashmir, Nilgiri hills and northern plains of India.
   
Climate and soil  

It is a cool season crop resistant to mild frost. The temperature of 20°–25°C is optimum for its proper growth, while 15°–20°C for heading stage. The heads become loose with rise in temperature.
Broccoli can be grown in a wide variety of soils but deep loamy soil is best-suited. Soil should be well-drained and sufficiently fertilized. Broccoli requires moist soil for fast and proper growth. The shoots become more fibrous under dry soil. The pH of 5.0–6.5 is optimum.

 
Varieties

There is more demand for green sprouting broccoli having green, firm and compact crown heads. The side shoots or heads are less preferred in the Indian market. They are grouped into early, mid and late types. Important varieties are:
Palam Samridhi
This is a high-yielding variety. Its large terminal head weighs about 300–400g each.
Pusa KTS 1
It is a medium-tall (65–70cm) variety. Foliage is waxy and dark green with slightly wavy margins. Heads are solid green with small beads slightly raised at the centre. The main head size and weight are about 6.0–15.4cm and 350–450g respectively. It matures in 90–105 days after transplanting under temperate climate, while 5–10 days earlier in the tropical plains.

   
Cultivation  

The field is prepared like that of Brussels sprout. Generally small-sized plots or beds of 3m × 3m size are prepared for transplanting the seedlings.
Sprouting broccoli is mainly raised from seeds. However, vegetative propagation by cuttings and tissue culture are also practised. Its seedlings are raised in nursery beds just like other cole crops. About 400–500g seed is sufficient to raise seedlings for a hectare. Mid-September–early-November is sowing time in plains. Generally it is sown during September–October in lower hills. About 4–6 weeks old seedlings are transplanted. The planting of over mature seedlings should be avoided. Seedlings are transplanted 45cm apart within and between the rows. In very rich soils, spacing can be reduced to 45cm × 30cm to avoid stem hollowness due to rapid plant growth. At a wider spacing, plants produce more laterals. The closer spacing is preferred for mechanical harvesting of the central head. However, closer spacing delays maturity.
Manuring and fertilization
Use of optimum doses of fertilizers is important for its proper growth since both rapid and slow growth are undesirable. The bud cdusters become loose and hollow-stem results from rapid growth, however slow growth affect yield adversely.
Generally, application of 15–20 tonnes of farmyard manure, 60–80kg N/ha and 100kg/ha each of P and K are recommended. The doses differ from place-to-place depending upon the fertility status of the soil. The full dose of P, K and half of N are applied at the time of preparation of land. The remaining dose of N should be topdressed in 2 equal split doses. The first is applied 4–5 weeks after transplanting, whereas second before head formation. A high yield of side shoots can be obtained by liberal use of N after harvesting central bud cluster.
Micronutrient requirement of broccoli is fairly high. Molybdenum and Boron may be supplied by soil application or foliar sprays.
Irrigation
Broccoli needs sufficient moisture in the soil for uniform and continuous growth of plants. Therefore, frequent irrigation at 10–15 days are given depending upon weather conditions. The dry conditions adversely affect the quality and yield of shoots by being more fibrous. On the other hand waterlogging condition depresses plant growth. Generally furrow system of irrigation is practised.
Interculture

The crop should be kept weed-free. Hoeing is done for breaking the surface crust to facilitate better aeration and water absorption. Since it is a shallow-rooted crop, hoeing should not be done beyond the depth of 5–6cm close to the plant to avoid injuries to the roots. A light earthing-up at final hoeing is beneficial. Pre-planting sprays of 2kg/ha of Basalin followed by 1 or 2 hoeings help control weeds effectively.
   
Harvesting & Postharvest management

The heads having 10–15cm stems should be harvested with a sharp knife when its bud clusters are green and compact. If harvesting is delayed the bud clusters become loose. The central bud cluster or head matures first. The growth of lateral shoots is promoted in the leaf axils. These sprouts may attain a diameter of 3–10cm and the harvesting is prolonged for several weeks. The closer planting is adopted for economical and single harvest of the central bud clusters. Generally harvesting continues for 4–6 weeks. Central head weighs about 500–600g. On an average, its yield varies from 100–150q/ha. However, Pusa KTS 1 provides 100–150 and 60q/ha in hills and plains respectively.
After harvesting, its heads should be immediately sorted, graded, packed in baskets and sent to markets. A high rate of respiration results in deterioration of its quality. They should be cooled at 4.4°C and then packed with ice in crates and stored in refrigerators. They can be stored well for 7–10 days at 4°C. Broccoli can also be preserved in glass jars after lactic acid fermentation.

   
Physiological Disorders

Deficiency of molybdenum causes whip-tail in which the lamina of the newly-formed leaves become leathery, irregular and consisting of only mid-rib. This can be prevented by soil application of 1–1.5kg of molybdenum before planting. Foliar application of 0.0–1% solution of ammonium molybdate helps control this disorder.
Browning of heads results due to B deficiency. First water-soaked areas appear on bud clusters which turn pinkish or rusty-brown in advanced stages, resulting in rotting. This can be prevented by soil application of 20kg/ha of borax or sodium borate. Foliar spraying of 0.25–0.5% solution of borax is more effective, especially when the deficiency is acute. The affected portion does not fully recover but helps in appearance of new, healthy bud clusters. 

Nutritional Value
 
TOP
 
Chromosome Number: 18
Taxonomic Classification
Class
:
Magnoliopsida
Order
:
Capparales
Family
:
Brassicaceae
Genus
:
Brassica
 
it is an important cole vegetable, is cultivated in Himachal Pradesh, Jammu and Kashmir, hilly regions of Uttar Pradesh, Maharachtra and Kodaikanal and in Nilgiris in Tamil Nadu. It is mostly grown in European countries and USA. The miniature heads or sprouts growing on axils of leaves are used as cooked vegetable as well as salad. They are a rich source of vitamin A, ascorbic acid, riboflavin, niacin, calcium and iron
   
Climate and soil  

Bbussels sprout thrives best in cool and humid climate with a temperature of 15°–25°C. It can withstand frost as well as snowfall. It requires somewhat longer growing period than cabbage. Generally good quality sprouts are obtained when temperature is 1 °–20°C. The rise in temperature results in loose and elongated sprouts with poor flavour.
It can be grown in a wide range of soils but sandy loam is best-suited for its cultivation. Soil should be well-drained to avoid water stagnation. The pH of 6.0–6.8 is optimum.

 
Varieties

Its varieties are grouped as dwarf, medium-tall and tall. The dwarf varieties are less than 50cm, while medium 50–60cm and tall more than 70cm in height. Important varieties are described below:
Jade Cross
An early, short-stemmed and high-yielding Japanese F1 hybrid, it is suitable for a single harvest.
Hilds Ideal
Its plants are medium-tall (55–60cm) and bear 45–50 sprouts measuring 70–80cm across. Each sprout on an average weighs 7–8g. Sprouts are green and compact with good flavour. About 250–400 sprouts are obtained from a single plant. Its average yield is 100–150q/ha.
Rubine
It is a high-yielding variety.
Besides other varieties and F1 hybrids from private seed companies are also grown commercially.

   
Cultivation  

The land should be thoroughly prepared by ploughing 4–6 times and make it friable. It should be levelled properly before making small beds for planting the crop. The bed size varies with the topography of land however 3m × 3m or 4m × 4m is common.
Brussels sprouts are mainly propagated by seed. However, vegetative propagation by cuttings and tissue culture is also feasible. About 500g of seed is sufficient to raise the seedlings for a hectare crop. Seeds are sown on raised nursery beds from August to October-end in plains and from February to April and also in autumn in the hills. Before sowing, nursery beds should be drenched with Brassicol or Captan 3g/litre or may be sterilized with 1% formaldehyde solution. These beds are immediately covered with alkathene sheet for 96hr. Thereafter seed should be sown in lines 5–7cm apart at a depth of 1.5–2.0cm. Seeds should be covered with fine soil. Mulching with hay or pine needles should be done to cover the nursery immediately after sowing. It takes 4–6 days for germination of seeds under temperate conditions. It is advantageous to treat the seeds with hot water (50°C) for half an hour. Frequent watering must be given for smooth germination and growth of the young seedlings. The seedlings become ready for transplanting 35–45 days after sowing.
A spacing of 60cm × 45cm is normally kept between and within the rows. The spacing can be increased or decreased depending upon the variety and fertility status and type of soils. The seedlings 10–15cm tall are used for transplanting.
Manuring and fertilization
A balanced application of fertilizers is essential to prevent deterioration in the quality of sprouts as well as yield. About 20–25 tonnes of farmyard manure or compost should be applied during land preparation. Generally 200kg of N and 100kg/ha each of P and K should be applied. One-third dose of N and the full of P and K are applied before transplanting the seedlings. The remaining dose of N is given as topdressing around the plants in 2 equal split doses. The second dose of N is given 30–45 days after planting, whereas the third before formation of the sprouts. The higher doses result into loose sprouts while sulphate-based fertilizers and excessive K results in bitterness adversely affecting the quality of the sprouts.
Irrigation
First irrigation should be given immediately after transplanting of seedlings for their better establishment. Thereafter irrigation is given at 15 days interval depending upon the weather conditions. At the time of maturity, irrigation may be avoided to prevent the loosening of sprouts.
Interculture
Hoeing and weeding are necessary for raising a good crop. An earthing-up before sprout formation helps in their proper development. Hoeing and weeding should be stopped when foliage covers the soil. Pre-plant application of Trifluralin (0.5 litre/ha) or Basalin (0.5 litre/ha) controls weeds effectively. Black polythene mulch can also be used to check the weed growth.

   
Harvesting & Postharvest management

The sprouts are harvested on attaining maximum size and compactness. However timely harvesting helps get better yield in the first and subsequent harvesting. Generally 3–6 harvestings are done. The time of harvesting can be manipulated to some extent by removing the growing point after first harvesting. However, mechanical harvesting is done only once along with stalk. The sprouts are later separated in the processing plant. In single harvesting, yield varies from 30 to 50q/ha. But average yield comes to 100–160q/ha from multiple harvesting.
The sprouts are sorted, graded and packed in baskets or crates and sent immediately to markets. The produce can be stored at 0–0.5°C for 3–5 weeks. The storage atmosphere with 10% CO2 and 2.5% of O2 reduces yellowing without injury at 0°C. The sprouts can be stored in perforated plastic bags at 1–1.5°C. The produce should be immediately sold in the market after taking out from the cold storage.

Nutritional Value
 
 
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