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Chromosome Number: 36
Taxonomic Classification
Class
:
Liliopsida
Order
:
Arecales
Family
:
Arecaceae
Genus
:
Phoenix
 

Date palm is a highly nutritious fruit. It is rich in sugar, iron, potassium, calcium and nicotinic acid. One kg fully ripe fresh dates provide approximately 3,150 calories. The flesh of dates contains 20% moisture, 60–65% sugar, 2.5% fibre, 2% protein and less than 2% each of fat, minerals and pectic substances. Thus, date fruit can help supplement the dietary needs of desert people where very few nutritive foods are available. In California, diced date, date paste and sugar are manufactured for use in breakfast and bakery. The leaves of the palm also have potential for use in the manufacture of paper.

Long dry summer and sufficient heat unit accumulation for development and ripening of fruit, sufficient water resources for irrigation and production technology suitable for Indian agroclimate make India quite suitable for its commercial cultivation. Nearly 0.3 million ha of land can be effectively utilized for its cultivation. The extremely dry areas comprising Jaisalmer, Barmer and Western parts of Bikaner and Jodhpur districts are the potential region for its cultivation. In other areas, fruits are harvested either at dang or rutab (soft translucent) stage (eastern parts of Jodhpur, Bikaner, Barmer and Western parts of Nagur).

   
Climate and soil  

The date palm is very exacting in its climatic requirement, which according to an Arab saying should grow with ‘its feet in running water and its head in the fire of the sky'. The successful cultivation of date palm requires a long summer with high day as well as night temperature, a mild winter without frost, and absence of rain at the time of flowering and fruit setting with low relative humidity and plenty of sunshine. It is estimated that finest date varieties require 3,300 units of heat (base 10°C) for full maturity of its berries.

The heat unit summation must occur from pollination until full maturity of berries. This period should be rainless and dry. This is in contrast to its native home in Mediterranean region where summers are dry with rainy winters to allow fruit development from May through September–October. In Indian subtropics, fruiting period is confined only from February–July whereas ripening period coincides with rainfall. Therefore, fruits do not reach ripening stage and should be harvested at earlier stage of fruit development.

Deep, sandy loam soils ideal for maximum water–holding capacity and good drainage are desirable. Date palm can grow in alkaline and saline soils but in such soils its growth and productivity are greatly reduced. The soil profile should be free from stones or calcium carbonate concretions and hard pan at least up to 2m depth. Date palm tolerate high soil salinity (pH 8–10). It can survive in soils having 4% salt concentration, provided the root system does not come in contact with a stratum of soil where the sodicity is more than 1%

 
Varieties

More than 1,000 varieties of dates are known to exist. However, only a few of them are commercially cultivated in different countries. Halawy, Khadrawy, Sayer, Barhee and Zahidi in Iraq; Deglet Noor, Medjool and Ghars in North African countries and Begam Jangi and Dhakki in Pakistan are commercial cultivars. Of the date varieties evaluated, Barhee, Halawy, Khalas and Khunezi have a very little or no astringency and are thus suitable for eating as raw. These varieties can be harvested and used at doka stage before the onset of rains. Date palm Medjool, Zahidi, Shamran and Khadrawy are astringent at doka stage and can be used for processing to prepare dry dates ( chhuhara ) and soft dates ( pind khajoor ). The red coloured dates Zagloul and Hayani are suitable for the preparation of date juice (RTS) and other products like jam and chutney. The important date varieties are:

Halawy

An early cultivar, suitable for raw eating and processing as soft dates. Tolerant to rain. Fruit small to medium, oblong with rounded apex and yellow at doka stage. TSS 25.5–42.2% and astringency fruit at doka stage low or almost absent.

Khadarawy

A is comparatively dwarf-and mid-season cultivar. Fruit matures slightly later than Halawy. Small to medium, oblong-ovate and greenish-yellow at doka stage.

Shamran (Sayer)

A mid-season cultivar, slightly tolerant to high humidity. Fruit is medium to large, oblong-oval and yellow at doka stage with faint longitudinal streaks of red near the base.

Medjool

A late-ripening cultivar, it is suitable for preparation of dry dates. The fruit is large and broadly oblong-oval to somewhat ovate, orange-yellow with a fine reddish-brown stippling and highly astringent at doka stage. The seed has ridges.

Barhee

A mid-season or late cultivar. Fruit small to medium, ovate to nearly round, golden-yellow and almost free from astringency even at green stage. Hard ripe doka fruits very sweet and suitable for raw eating.

Zahidi

A mid-season and prolific-bearer, variety, slightly tolerant to rain or high humidity because of smooth and hard surface. Fruit small to medium, ovate and yellow, astringent at doka stage. Fruits are suitable to prepare soft dates.

Khalas

It is a mid–season cultivar. Fruit small to medium, oblong oval, yellow and sweet at doka stage, has an oblique base and irregular outline. It is suitable for raw eating and for processing as soft dates.

   
Propagation

It is propagated by off-shoots (suckers) emerging from the base of the palm. since plants raised form seeds not only bear inferior quality fruits but almost half of them may be non-bearing males. The offshoots could be separated from mother plants 4–5 years after planting. Thus, 8–20 offshoots of 8–15kg size can be obtained during its fourth and tenth year of life and none thereafter. This is obviously a slow rate of multiplication. Absence of a fast multiplication technique for date palm is thus a prominent bottleneck in its extension of area. About 30 million offshoots are required to cover 0.3 million ha area in the arid north-west region. Although, tissue-culture technique has been standardized in date palm, its commercial use is still constrained owing to somaclonal variation.

Prior to the removal of offshoots, the outer leaves are cut back to two-thirds of their lengths and the inner leaves to half. The stalks of the pruned old leaves are tied together to protect the tender apical growing bud. It is ensured that offshoots have well-developed root system. The offshoot seperated by cutting the connection with the help of a sharp chisel in such a way that no injury is caused to the mother palm. The copper fungicidal paste should be applied to cut end of the off shoot.

Research work is in progress to induce rooting to establish small-sized offshoots and to induce more number of off-shoots/palm. Application of IBA to small offshoots before removal from mother palm and then putting them in mist is quite effective in rooting and survival percentage. The other vegetative methods—cutting, grafting, budding and layering—are not successful.

   
Cultivation  

Planting

Date palm is a perennial and bears fruits for 40–50 years. Therefore, adequate planting distance is very essential. In general, planting is done at 8m distance between rows and plants in square system, which facilitates intercultural operations and proper development of the palms. A total of 156 palms are accommodated in one hectare. Since it is dioecious, 10% of these must be raised by planting male offshoots to provide adequate pollen-grains.

The field should be thoroughly ploughed, levelled and pits of 1m × 1m × 1m size are dug during summer. They are kept open for about a fortnight and refilled with a mixture of garden soil and well-decomposed farmyard manure. Care should be taken that the crown of the planted offshoots remains at least 10–15cm higher than the ground level so that the irrigation water does not touch it or enter into it. Young offshoots should be protected against intense heat and low winter temperature for at least 2–3 years by providing partial shade. Rainy season (July–September) is ideal time of planting.

Regulating leaf number

Sufficient number of green leaves is necessary for growth, development, and yield. Insufficient number of leaves results in low quality fruits and fewer inflorescence in the following spring. About 75–100 leaves are necessary for optimum yield. One cluster should be retained to every 7–8 leaves in Khadarawy, Zahidi, Barhee, and one to every 8–9 leaves in Halawy, Deglet Noor and Dayri. Further, 12 leaves/bunch is optimum leaf-bunch ratio in Barhee dates. Optimum yield and good quality fruits could be obtained with 8 active leaves/bunch when 5–8 bunches/plant are retained. The old and senescing leaves should be pruned. Time of leaf pruning is June. It is better than in February. To facilitate pollination and subsequent handling of bunches, the spines from the leaves around the bunches are also removed in late winter to early spring.

Pollination

Date palm is highly cross-pollinated due to its dioecious nature. In commercial plantation, mechanical or hand-pollination is done. For this, 2–3 male trees are enough to pollinate 100 female palms. About 2–3 strands of male flowers are inserted between the strands of female flowers. Since metaxenia is common in date palm, selection of a good pollinizer is important. The quality of date fruits, particularly fruit size and time of ripening are influenced by pollen. Under Indian conditions, early ripening is desired to avoid losses due to rains. If the male spathes open earlier than female, the pollen is dried and stored for use at a later date. Dried pollen containing about 10% moisture can be stored satisfactorily with calcium chloride at room temperature for 2–3 weeks. It can be stored until the next season in refrigerator at about 4°–5°C. However, fresh pollen produced the best fruiting, followed by that with refrigerated pollen and pollen stored at room temperature. Trailor mounted palm dusters are used in USA. When pollen dust is used, dusting has to be repeated 2–3 times.

In India, spathes generally emerge during February–March and the flower opening starts during March–April. Although stigma of female flower remains receptive for several days, it is better to pollinate the inflorescence as soon as they crack open.

Fruit thinning

Fruit thinning is necessary to ensure adequate flowering in the following year, to improve fruit quality, prevent delayed ripening and reduce compactness and increase ventilation of the bunches. Thinning can be done manually or by chemical sprays. Manual method is common which involves removal of some bunches or strands from each bunch or shortening the length of strands. The number of fruits that a palm can sustain depends on variety, age, vigour and number of green leaves. Three to four bunches/ palm are recommended from fifth year onwards. However, as many as 8–10 bunches/ palm are left in our country. The best results are obtained by removal of one-third strands from the centre of the bunch. However, in long stranded variety, Deglet Noor, shortening of the strands is also necessary.

Plant growth regulator Ethephon is an effective fruit-thinning agent. It provides additional benefit in inducing early ripening of berries. This is of great significance in India, as harvesting of fruits before the onset of rains is advantageous. Ethrel at 500–1,000ppm encourages early ripening.

Manuring and fertilization

Nutrient application is important for satisfactory production of quality dates. A dose of 30kg N, 20kg P and 50kg K/ha should be applied. However, in India, application of 1.36kg N/ tree is necessary. Manures can be applied in the beginning of winter season and the fertilizers in March/April. However, an adult tree should be fed 600g N, 100g P and 70g K/year. The application of K and P should be monitored according to soil conditions. Application of 12.5–35.2 tonnes/ha of farmyard manure is beneficial.

Intercropping

In areas where irrigation facilities are available, intercrops can bring handsome returns. Preference should be given to lentil, gram, peas and senji in winter and mash, greengram (mung) and blackgram for summer. Suitable vegetable crops can also be taken with adequate manuring. Small-sized fruit trees like pomegranate, phalsa and papaya can also be grown between date palm. However, under such conditions, additional requirements of water and nutrients for the intercrop should also be provided.

Irrigation

Irrigation is very essential in date palm because it is grown in hot and dry, low-rainfall areas. Further, the water requirement of date palm is high although it can withstand prolonged droughts. Date palm likes wet feet but is damaged under prolonged stagnation. In high water table areas, 4–6 irrigations in a year may be adequate. Light and frequent irrigations must be given after planting. Mulching may be useful at this stage. In sandy soils, irrigation may be given everyday or on alternate days. The frequency of irrigation is reduced after the offshoots have established which is dependent on soil texture and weather conditions.

About 10–12.5 acre cm of water is required to grow palms where the soil is dry during ripening and 6–8 acre feet where heavy water is continued throughout the year. Mulching with black polythene or available organic mulch materials like date palm leaves or weeds in the basin helps conserve moisture and increase irrigation interval.

   
Harvesting & Postharvest management

The dates are eaten at different stages of maturity depending upon the varieties and thus harvested at different stages according to local demand, customs and climate. In India where maturity coincides with monsoon, fruits are harvested at ‘Doka' stage to avoid spoilage due to rains and high humidity. Spraying of Ethephone (1,000ppm) at colour break stage is recommended in Gujarat to advance maturity. Under Mediterranean climate, they are allowed to ripen fully before harvesting. It is stored after drying. Fruits for fresh eating are preferred at ‘Dang' stage but handling of such fruits is difficult.

Date palm trees usually take approximately 6 years for commercial bearing. Yield is comparatively less during initial years but it increases with age. On an average, 50kg Doka fruits are produced from each palm of 10 years age increasing to 75kg at the age of 15 years. However, the yield also depends upon variety, cultural practices and other factors.

The dates harvested at doka stage have 70–80% moisture. They have very poor keeping quality. Therefore, these fruits should be marketed soon or may be cured or processed. Since Doka or Dang fruits cannot be stored for future use, curing should be done. Doka fruits are successfully processed to prepare Chhuhara. The technique involves boiling fruits for 5–10min. depending on cultivar and then dehydration in solar dryers or in air circulating ovens at 48°–50°C for 70–95hr. The Doka fruits can also be artificially ripen to bring them to the final stage of maturity by dipping them in boiling water for 20–25 seconds and then dehydration in oven at 38°–40°C.

The date juice and sugar have been successfully utilized as sweetening and flavouring agent in ice cream. Recently attempts have also been made to can date pulp and khalal fruits in 20–40% sugar syrup. A satisfactory pickle is obtained after 6 weeks of pickling green fruits treated with 15% sodium chloride and 2% acetic acid.

Nutritional Value
 
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Chromosome Number: 16

Davana is a native aromatic herb, grown in 2,000ha, mainly in Karnataka and to a lesser extent in Tamil Nadu and Maharashtra. Its foliage and floral tops produce a viscous essential oil, emitting a delicate, persistently fruity fragrance which is used in floral decorations, bouquets and cosmetics. On dilution, the oil imparts a sweet, refreshingly pleasant odour. It is also used in flavouring of cakes, pastries, beverages and tobacco products. Most of the oil produced in the country is exported to USA.

Davana is a small, sparsely branched, erect herb, attaining a height of 60cm under cultivation. It has small, much divided leaves bearing inconspicuous small, yellow flowers arranged in a capitulum. The capitulum comprises heterogeneous flowers, i.e. bisexual disc florets in the centre and pistillate ray florets on the periphery.

It requires a rich loamy soil with good drainage under mild winter season and remains in field for about 120 days. It is propagated by seeds. The seeds are minute (1,600/g), and kept in moist cloth for 1–2 days to induce germination. The germinating seeds mixed in sand are broadcast over well-prepared nursery beds during early-November. About 5-week-old seedlings are ready for planting at 40cm × 30cm spacing. The field is prepared by adding 5–6 tonnes/ha of farmyard manure and 10kg/ha of BHC (5%) together with 40kg each of N, P and K as basal application. Its plants respond to high nitrogenous fertilizer. A dose of 80kg N/ha is further given in 2 equal split doses at 40 and 65 days respectively. The growth is faster 10 weeks after planting. The crop should be kept weed-free. Two weeding-cum-hoeings are done 15 and 30 days after planting.

Weekly light irrigation is beneficial. The crop is harvested at maximum flowering stage at 5–6cm above the ground, using sickles on bright sunny days. The oil content in the herb is maximum in flower-heads. It is low in foliage. Davana produces on an average 15 tonnes/ha of fresh herbage which is spread in thin layer on thrashing floor in shade and dried for several days constantly turning the plant to avoid fermentation. It loses four-fifths of its weight during drying due to loss of moisture. This air-dried herbage is chopped in small pieces and distilled in a steam distillation unit at atmospheric pressure for 5–8hr. It gives 10.2% oil and 16–20kg of oil/ha on a commercial scale. There is an appreciable loss in oil during drying and storage of the herbage. The oil improves in odour on maturation during storage. The oil contains several esters (65%) and oxygenated compounds (15%) designated as devanafurans and isodavanone which impart it a characteristic odour. 

   
 
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Chromosome Number: 22
Taxonomic Classification
Class
:
Magnoliopsida
Order
:
Apiales
Family
:
Apiaceae
Genus
:
Anethum
 

Dill or sowa ( Anethum graveolens var. sowa ) is oldest cultivated medicinal plant in India. Its young aromatic foliage is used in culinary, whereas fruits have carminative property. On distillation, an essential oil containing high carvone content is obtained. It provides relief in flatulence, abdominal and colic pain. Its emulsion in water is an integral part for making gripewater used to improve digestion and to control vomiting in children. Two known varieties (or sub-species) are cultivated. The sowa is distinguished from the main species called European dill.

The seed oil of sowa has superior aroma but the oil contains an oxygenated compound ‘dill apiole', which is toxic in large doses but can easily be removed through fractional distillation due to its higher specific gravity before use of the oil in medicine. Sowa is cultivated in most parts of India as a cold season crop. Its aromatic leaves come to vegetable markets all throughout the winter season. It is grown for seed crop, largely in Gujarat, Maharashtra, Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh. Over 10,000 ha area is under its cultivation. Its seed and seed oil is regularly exported.

Sowa is an annual, glabrous, branched winter annual herb, growing up to 1.2m height. It has long fusiform tap root, cylindrical branched stem and highly decompound tripinnate fusiform leaves. It bears pale-yellow flowers in compound umbels, both over terminal and axillary cymes, appearing 40–60 days after sowing and producing fruit 85–90 days after sowing. The fruit is sub-elliptical, compressed, 3.5mm long and 1.5–2.5mm broad with longitudinal ridges on either side, dull pale in colour and angular-shaped. The herb oil (harvested at vegetative stage) is rich in phellandrene, whereas seed oil has high carvone content.

Sowa is a long day plant. While a number of local land races are known in western India, a common composite variety is grown in most parts of India. The seed crop remains for 6 months in field. For European dill, a selection from Netherlands is recommended and gives high herb and seed yields under Indian conditions.

Sowa is grown in a variety of soils in dry warm subtropical climate under open conditions in light sandy to loamy soils. Heavy clayey loam soil may be avoided. It prefers well-drained, rich loamy soil of up to 8.6 pH. The seeds are sown in mid-October directly in well-prepared fields in rows in north Indian plains when temperature is around 20°C. Spring rains favour good vegetative growth, producing higher seed yield. Usually seeds are drilled in 1.0–2cm deep in lines at 45cm spacing, followed by light planking. Seed rate for line sown and broadcast crops are 5–6kg/ha and 10kg/ha respectively. The fields are given a pre-sowing light irrigation to allow seed-beds to maintain enough moisture, allowing germination in 7–9 days. The seedlings are thinned in rows 40 days after sowing to maintain a distance between plants in a row at 30cm. Usually, 30kg of N and 40kg of P2O5 are given at land preparation and 30kg of N/ha is drilled in rows at flower-bud initiation stage. It is grown on border of wheat fields or as an intercrop in vegetables to get 2–3 pickings of foliage crop before seed crop is harvested. It requires 2–3 weedings and 6 light irrigations.

The seed crop is harvested at full ripe, grey-green maturity stage during early-April. It is kept in field for withering and seed is thus separated and dried in shade for another 3–5 days. The seed crop yields 1–1.4 tonnes/ha of grain yield under good management. The seed yields 2.5–3.0% of essential oil on steam distillation, whereas stored seed crop yields less oil. The seed crop can be easily stored for 1–2 years in polyethylene lined gunny bags in cool, dry, and ventilated gowdowns.

   
 
Nutritional Value
 
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Chromosome Number: 28
Taxonomic Classification
Class
:
Magnoliopsida
Order
:
Capparales
Family
:
Moringaceae
Genus
:
Moringa
 
Drumstick is an important perennial multipurpose vegetable grown widely in India. Popularly known as ‘Ganigana’, ‘Mullakkai’ ‘Murrugi’, ‘Sahjan’ and ‘Muringa’ its tender leaves and immature or half-mature fruits are eaten. It is a delicacy in the south Indian households. It is most popular for its distinct, appealing flavouring fruits. The flower buds are also used for culinary purposes. Besides, it has medicinal value also.
   
Climate and soil  
It is most commonly grown in tropical or semi-tropical conditions. Bush types grow in all types of soils. Sandy red soil or black soil is well-suited. A pH of 6.0–7.5 is ideal.
 
Varieties

The varieties of drumstick are classified as annual and perennial ones. The annuals are short-duration crops. These are propagated by seeds, while perennials by stem cuttings. Important varieties are:
Chavakacheri Muringai
An ecotype of Jaffna muringa, it bears pods as long as 90–120cm.
Chemmurungai
Another ecotype of Jaffna muringa, it flowers and fruits throughout the year, yielding a heavy crop. The tips of the pods are red. The tree is medium-sized, bearing long pods.
Jaffna type
This is a Yazphanam type muringa introduced from Sri Lanka. Its fruits are 60–90cm long with soft flesh and good taste. This type can yield 400 pods from second year of planting which increases to 600 pods/ tree/ year third year onwards.
Kattumurungai
Released from Anna farm of the state Agriculture department located at Kudumiyamalai in Tamil Nadu, it is an annual moringa developed through pure line selection. Propagated by seeds, it yields around 400–500 fruits/plant annually. The fruits are only 25–30cm long. As the plants are like shrubs, harvesting is very easy. After first harvest, the plants are headed back leaving 1m above ground and used as ratoons. Ratooning is done for 2–3 years. It starts bearing from 6th month onwards.
Kodikalmurungai
It is cultivated predominantly in bekel vine gardens of Tiruchirapalli districts of Tamil Nadu. The pods are shorter (20–25cm in length) and thick fleshed. The pods and leaves are very tasty. Trees are short statured with smaller leaves.
Palmurungai
It is preferred for its thick pulp and tasty pods.
PKM 1
An annual bush type drumstick, it flowers 90–100 days after planting. It yields about 275 fruits annually, the total fruit weight being 33–35kg. The fruits are 65–70cm long 6.3cm in diameter, weighing 160g. It can be ratooned for 3 years.
Punamurungai
This variety is grown in the home gardens of Tirunelveli-Kattabomman and Kanyakumari districts.
Yazphanam Muringa
It is grown commercially in Salem and Madurai districts of Tamil Nadu as a single crop either irrigated or rainfed. Propagated by stem cuttings, it comes to bearing within 8–9 months, the yield being 250–300 fruits/plant annually. It is grown along fences in households where there is no proper irrigation and fertilization. These types are grown as perennial in homestead gardens, and can last for more than 5 years.

   
Cultivation  

Sowing
June–July and November–December are well suited for sowing. About 500g seed is enough for a hectare.
Pits of 45cm × 45cm × 45cm size are dug at 2.5m × 2.5m spacing one week before planting. The farmyard manure @ 15kg/pit is applied. A 60cm circular irrigation basin is made around the pit. The pits are closed.
Two seeds are sown 3cm deep in each pit in the centre. Seeds germinate 7–9 days after sowing. Seeds can also be sown in polythene bags. One-month-old seedlings are planted.
Crop production
Perennial types are propagated vegetatively. One-year-old stems are used for propagation. Stem cuttings, 1–1.35m long and 14–16cm in girth are used. The cultures are planted in pits of 1m × 1m × 1m, 3–5m apart.
Manuring and fertilization
Organic manures @ 75kg/plant can be given to 1-year-old plants and above during June in trenches 1m away from plants. First dose of fertilizer containing 45g N: 16g P2O2 : 30g K2O/plant should be applied 3 months after sowing, whereas second dose of 45g N 6 months after.
Aftercare
Plants with overgrown branches cause difficulty in harvesting. Therefore pruning is essential at the time of harvesting. The plants are topped at 75cm height. This results is bushiness. If required they can be topped once again at 4 feet height.
Weeding
The field should be maintained weed-free for initial 2 months. As plants grow to a height of 3 feet, there is no need for weeding. If necessary, weeding can be done.
Intercropping
For first 3 years, chilli, brinjal, tomato and cotton can be grown as intercrops, depending on the location. The spacing is adjusted accordingly.

   
Harvesting & Postharvest management

If there is more flower clustering on the tree then the yield is low. An individual inflorescence carries 19–126 flowers, average being 53. But it results only in one fruit. Normally 3–5 fruits/inflorescence are obtained. Fruit set ranges from 1.0–2.8% The percentage fruit set varies from tree to tree. The fruit length varies from 25–100cm. Each fruit weighs around 230g containing 10–20 seeds each on an average.
Annual drumstick starts bearing from 6th month onwards, providing 200 fruits/plant/annum. Its average yield is 52 tonnes/ha.
The ratoon crop is obtained by pruning its trees to a height of 1m after harvesting. The plants start bearing 4–5 months after heading back. Thus 3 ratoons can be taken. After ratooning NPK along with 25kg farmyard manure are applied.
A number of value-added products can be prepared if its availability is in excess. They are moringa pickle, dehydrated moringa, moringa powder and moringa flesh mesocarp powder. 

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Chromosome Number: 56
Taxonomic Classification
Class
:
Magnoliopsida
Order
:
Malvales
Family
:
Bombacaceae
Genus
:
Durio
 

Durian native to Borneo, an island in the Malaysian region, produces fruits with a unique appearance, taste, flavour and aroma. This fruit tree grows tall and straight to a height of 30m in the forests, however grafted orchard trees seldom grow over 12m. The durian fruits are ovoid to ellipsoid, large, weighing up to 5kg with thorny surface like jack and normally olive- green in colour. People have strong like or dislike for this fruit. Many like it, because of its sweet, delicious and filling taste, while others dislike it for its highly objectionable odour. The penetrating odour is comparable to that of rotten onion and is unacceptable to many. However, once the odour barrier is overcome by a strong determination, the experience of eating a good durian is never forgotten. The durian is grown intensively and commercially for its fruit only in Indonesia, Malaysia and Thailand. In India, there are no large orchards or commercial plantings of durian, but for some trees in and around Nilgiris (Tamil Nadu) and West coast.

The 5-loculed fruit has 2–3 seeds in each locule, surrounded by light colour, mealy, sweet aril, and the edible pulp. The seed is readily separable from the pulp, and are edible when fried, roasted or boiled. The pulp is rich in sugars (12%), protein (2.8%) and carbohydrates (34%) in addition to Fe, B, vitamins especially the uncommon but valuable vitamin E. When durian fruit is consumed, it gives a feeling of internal warmth, followed by a glowing sensation, and this has led to a strong belief that the fruit has aphrodisiacal qualities. The fruits are highly prized both as fresh fruit and in processed form. Durian also has some pharmacological properties, e.g. decoction of roots is used to treat fever and that of leaves and roots is used to check inflammation, infections and to treat jaundice.

   
Climate and soil  
Durian thrives in humid, equatorial climate with short or no dry season. An annual rainfall of 200cm is a minimum requirement, but heavy rains prior to flower initiation affect normal flowering, and the production decreases. If minimum temperature falls below 8°C, the tree suffers from cold injury. Trees of durian grow on different types of soils with 5–6.5 pH, provided they are moist, well-aerated and rich in organic matter. Deep silt or loams with good drainage and high level of fertility are ideal for its cultivation. However, the trees are susceptible to strong winds, which cause breakage of limbs or even trunk.
 
Varieties
There are more than 27 species of Durio, the genus to which durian belongs. Apart from D. zibethinus, at least 6 of them have some edible value: D. testudinarum, D. graveolens, D. grandiflorus, D. dulcis, D. oxleyanus and D. kutejensis. Of these, D. testudinarum is almost as important as D. zibethinus. Each of these species has many variants for fruit size, fruit colour and leaf area. As many as 300 strains/varieties of durian are reported, but only a few of these are propagated by commercial nurseries in countries where these are popularly grown. There are distinct variations in flavour, aroma and other fruit characteristics among the cultivars, which are readily distinguishable even on cursory examination. Those with better market demand have less of the objectionable flavour and small seeds. Chanee, Kanyao, Frog, Bojol, Ketan, Gombat, Mong Thong, Golden Pillow, Kob Champa, Lalong, Otong and Hepe are prominent cultivars. Planting of more than one variety/clone should be done in an orchard to facilitate cross-pollination and better fruit set.
   
Propagation
Usually the growers propagate durian by seeds and its off-springs vary from generation-to-generation due to genetic heterozygosity. However, the recommendation would be to go for vegetative propagation of proven elite trees. Although no standard rootstocks are known, better results are obtained if rootstock of the same species is employed. The seeds of durian are variable in size and are notoriously short lived, the viability is affected by exposure of seeds to sunlight or high temperature for long period of time. Seeds do not store well even at low temperature. Large, healthy, fresh seeds are sown in well-drained soil, preferably in polybags or earthen pots. Seeds germinate in 3–4 days and subsequent growth of the seedlings is fairly rapid, producing a good-sized seedling suitable for grafting in about 2 months. The modified Forkert method (modification of patch-budding), inarching and approach grafting are common methods of propagation. However, air-layering and propagation by cuttings are impractical.
   
Cultivation  

Planting

Planting can be taken up at 10–12m spacing on the square system. Other principles of planting are same as in avocado.

Pruning

Durian is neither pruned in nursery nor after planting in the field. It usually takes a pyramidal shape by itself. However, after harvesting, the tree can be cleared off dried and old twigs.

Aftercare

Since durian is a native of rain-forest, its young plants are prone to desiccation needing regular watering till they establish. Other aftercare practices as explained for avocado cultivation may be followed.

Irrigation

Good soil moisture is essential for satisfactory growth and production. Irrigation is necessary if there is a long dry spell. A good mulch helps conserve moisture, reducing the need for irrigation.

Manuring

Exact information on the fertilizer requirement of durian is not available. Tentatively, the recommendations made for avocado may be followed, as durian is similar to avocado in respect of plant growth, and bearing habit.

   
Harvesting & Postharvest management

Grafted durian trees are precocious and produce crop in 4–5 years, while seedlings require as long as 10 years. The fruiting is clearly seasonal, available 2 times in a year. Immature fruits are picked only for use as ‘vegetables'. Fruits take about three-and-a-half months to reach maturity. When mature, the fruits drop but it should be harvested since the fallen fruits do not keep long. Harvesting is done manually or with the help of bamboo poles when the fruits are smooth, flat with far-apart spines. The yield varies with the age, variety, and agroclimate of the region. However, 100–120 fruits/tree are considered as good.

The rich aroma of durian develops as fruits ripen and reach their peak in 3–4 days after harvesting and becomes soft. The ripe fruits deteriorate rapidly and cannot be transported over long distances. The arils of ripe fruit, is eaten fresh, which normally forms 33% of the total fruit weight. The arils can also be processed into durian cake (lempok) and durian jelly (tempoyak). The jelly is prepared from over-ripe fruits and is sour. Dehydrated durian powder prepared either by spray or drum drying could be used as a flavouring ingredient for beverages, pastry, ice-cream etc. Ripe fruits can last for 4 days under refrigeration, while the mature ones can be stored up to 14 days at 10°–15°C or may be frozen for 2–3 months. The arils can be kept for about 3 months at –24°C.

Nutritional Value
 
Usage

FOOD

 

Fresh: Durians are sold whole, or the flesh removed from the fruit and placed in Styrofoam containers in segments, wrapped in clear plastic. The flesh is mostly eaten fresh, often out-of-hand.

Sometimes durian is simply boiled with sugar or cooked in coconut water, and it is a popular flavouring for ice cream. The Javanese prepare the flesh as a sauce to be served with rice; they also combine the minced flesh with minced onion, salt and diluted vinegar as a kind of relish; and they add half-ripe arils to certain dishes. Arabian residents prefer to mix the flesh with ice and syrup. The Malays also ferment in earthern containers and eat the fermented durian as a relish (tempoyak).

In Malaysia a popular durian cake, dodol, is made from durian mixed with coconut and palm sugar.

The seeds are eaten after boiling, drying, and frying or roasting. In Java, the seeds may be sliced thin and cooked with sugar as a confection; or dried and fried in coconut oil with spices for serving as a side-dish.

Young leaves and shoots are occasionally cooked as greens. Sometimes the ash of the burned rind is added to special cakes.

Processed: Durian flesh is canned in syrup for export in Thailand. It is also dried for local use and export. Blocks of durian paste are sold in the markets. In Bangkok much of the paste is adulterated with pumpkin. Malays preserve the flesh in salt in order to keep it on hand the year around to eat with rice, even though it acquires a very strong and, to outsiders, a most disagreeable odour. The unripe fruit is boiled whole and eaten as a vegetable.

 

Non-food

 

Rind: The dried or half-dried rinds are burned as fuel and fish may be hung in the smoke to acquire a strong flavour. The ash is used to bleach silk.

Wood: The sapwood is white, the heartwood light red-brown, soft, coarse, not durable nor termite-resistant. It is used for masts and interiors of huts in rural parts of Malaysia.

Medicinal Uses: The flesh is said to serve as a vermifuge. Certain Malay communities use a decoction of the leaves and roots as a febrifuge. The leaf juice is applied on the head of a fever patient. The leaves are employed in medicinal baths for people with jaundice. Decoctions of the leaves and fruits are applied to swellings and skin diseases. The ash of the burned rind is taken after childbirth. The leaves probably contain hydroxy-tryptamines and mustard oils.

The odour of the flesh is believed to be linked to indole compounds which are bacteriostatic. Eating durian is alleged to restore the health of ailing humans and animals. The flesh is widely believed to act as an aphrodisiac. 
 
 
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