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Chromosome Number: 72
Taxonomic Classification
Class
:
Magnoliopsida
Order
:
Lamiales
Family
:
Lamiaceae
Genus
:
Ocimum
 

Indian basil is grown as a pot herb. However, its commercial cultivation has picked up in last 10 years, extending to 6,000ha area in Badauin, Bareilly and Lucknow districts of Uttar Pradesh. It is similar to sweet basil which is grown in tarai districts of Uttar Pradesh but the oil has overwhelmingly high methyl chavicol (70–80%) content, whereas sweet basil has high eugenol (35–40%) and linalool (35–40%) contents. This oil is used in flavouring of foods, bakery products and beverages in the USA and Europe.

Indian basil is a much branched, perennial, herb with purplish tinged quadrangular stem. Leaves are simple, petiolate, opposite, sub-ovate and serrate, possessing glandular hair which secrete aromatic oil. The flowers are small, conspicuous, protandrous, highly cross-pollinated, 60–100, arranged in whorl over racemose inflorescence. The sepals are pink, ovate, fused to form an ovoid tube, deflexed in fruit. The fruit consists of 4-one seeded ellipsoid, black nutlets which produce mucilagenous coating on wetting. Clo-ocimum is semi-woody, taller under-shrub with larger decussate leaves but has less conspicuous flowers. Its seed is brownish in colour, globose in shape and does not form mucilagenous covering when it comes in contact with moisture. This oil has cooling, sharp, pungent taste, whereas oil of Indian basil has a strong but milder taste and relatively delicate flavour.

A common composite culture of Indian basil is grown in India. On the other hand, eugenol rich basil variety, Clo-ocimum, developed by recurrent selection by polycross hybridization has 75–80% of eugenol in the oil. Indian basil remains for 120–130 days in the field, whereas Clo-ocimum is tended for ratoon crop as well and maintained up to 240 days.

Basil is a hardy, long day plant. It is adopted to a wide range of soils and climatic conditions. It grows luxuriantly over well-drained, loamy soils of medium fertility and neutral reactions under warm, humid weather conditions with good sunshine. Waterlogged conditions can cause root rot and stunted growth. It tolerates moderate drought, frost and soil salinity, whereas Clo-ocimum prefers sandy loam soils.

It is raised from seed. The seed rate of 250g/ha is enough. Direct sown crop is economical, whereas raising of nursery is preferred for Clo-ocimum . About 15–20cm tall seedlings are suitable for transplanting. Land preparation is as usual. Mix 20kg of BHC or Aldrin (10%) in soil to protect against soil-borne pests. The seeds are very small and light. Mix 10 times sand with seed and sow in furrows at 40cm distance in rows during rainy season. Cover with light planking followed by light irrigation. Usually 40kg of N and P is given basally. Seeds germinate in 10–15 days. The seedlings (15–20cm tall) are thinned within a row, maintaining a plant-to-plant distance of 40cm. Clo-ocimum is grown under wider spacing (60cm × 45cm or 45cm × 45cm) and seedlings raised in nursery only are planted in the field.

The crop is given 25–40kg of N/ha through topdressing in rows after thinning. Its inter-culture and irrigation needs are meagre. But Clo-ocimum makes heavier demand of N nutrients (120kg or more) and is given in 3 split doses, each of 30–40kg given at 40 days after planting and 60 and 30 days after first and second harvesting respectively. The ratoon crop needs 6–8 irrigations. Indian basil is a short-duration kharif crop , requiring low supplemental irrigation during later part of the growing season only.

It is harvested after 120–130 days of age at maximum flowering stage by sickle 20cm above the ground. It is wilted in the sun for 4–8hr. Its thicker stems are removed and balance herbage chopped into small pieces and distilled in stem distillation unit. The fresh herb has 0.4–0.5% oil. It gives an yield of 15–20 tonnes of herbage, which in turn produces 66–70kg of oil/ha easily. The ratoon crop in Clo-ocimum is harvested in February and April. Thus, it produces 40 tonnes of fresh herb in 8–9 months. It contains 0.46% oil, which in turn gives 150–160kg of oil/ha on commercial scale. Methyl chavicol is chemically converted into high value anethole which has a good market in food aromatics in Europe. 

   
 
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Chromosome Number: 18
Taxonomic Classification
Class
:
Magnoliopsida
Order
:
Caryophyllales
Family
:
Chenopodiaceae
Genus
:
Beta
 
Indian spinach better known as palak or beet leaf or spinach beet is a native of Indo-Chinese region. It is extensively grown in Uttar Pradesh, West Bengal, Punjab, Haryana, Delhi, Madhya Pradesh, Gujarat and Maharashtra. However, it is not very popular in southern part of the country. On an average its leaves contain 3.4g protein, 0.8g fat, 380mg calcium, 30g phosphorus, 16.2mg iron, 5,862IU carotene, and 70mg vitamin C/100g edible portion.
   
Climate and soil  
Palak is a cool season crop, requiring mild climate. It tolerates frost and high temperature under good irrigation. Under high temperature conditions, early bolting occurs and leaves pass edible stage quickly with poor yield.
Though palak can be grown on a wide range of soils, well fertile, sandy loam soil with good drainage is ideal. Palak is tolerant to slightly alkaline soils and is highly tolerant to salts also.
 
Varieties
Palak varieties are classified into 2 groups—reddish midrib and veins; and green midrib and veins. All Green, Pusa Palak, Pusa Jyoti and Pusa Harit are improved varieties. They are suited to north Indian states. Jobner Green (Rajasthan), HS 23 (Haryana), Palak No. 51/16 (Maharashtra), Banerjees Giant (West Bengal) are other popular varieties
   
Cultivation  

Sowing

It is sown directly in main field after land preparation. About 15–20kg seed/ha is enough. Soaking seeds in water overnight before sowing results in good uniform germination.

Planting

In plains, palak is sown during January–February, June–July and September–November, whereas in hills it is sown generally from April to June.

Land preparation consists of good ploughing 3–4 times, weeding and levelling. Beds are made of convenient size and seeds are sown in lines 20cm apart 2–3cm deep. Seeds germinate about 10 days after sowing.

Manuring

A basal dose of 25–30 tonnes of farmyard manure and 60–80kg P 2 O 5 /ha is incorporated into soil at the time of land preparation. For good vegetative growth and yield, apply N @ 20–25kg/ha after every cutting as topdressing.

Aftercare

Weeding, hoeing and earthing-up are important intercultural operations. Hand-weeding is advocated in the early stages. After every cutting, weeding and hoeing should be done.

Irrigation

It is advisable to give a good pre-sowing irrigation and a light irrigation a few days after sowing. Frequency and quantity of irrigation depend on soil conditions, climate and cultivar. In spring-summer season, irrigation is required at 6–7 days interval, whereas in winter-autumn season, at 10–15 days. Frequency and quantity of water is more in light or sandy soils.

   
Harvesting & Postharvest management

Its first flush of leaves become ready for picking 3–4 weeks after sowing. Afterwards its leaves are harvested at 15–20 days interval. Thus 6–8 pickings can be taken. Its yield varies with variety, season and soil conditions. Generally winter crop gives a higher yield. On an average 8–12 tonnes/ha of leaves are obtained.

Since its leaves are very tender and succulent they should be marketed immediately after harvesting by making them into small bundles or bunches. Damaged and diseased leaves are discarded before bunching. Washing of leaves is not advocated because it results in rotting in the centre of the bundle. Under low temperature (0°C) and high relative humidity (90–95%), leaves can be stored for 10–14 days. 

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Chromosome Number: 8
Taxonomic Classification
Class
:
Magnoliopsida
Order
:
Plantaginales
Family
:
Plantaginaceae
Genus
:
Plantago
 

Isabgol or psyllium a small, stemless, annual herb, grows mainly in north Gujarat and south-western Rajasthan. A native of Persia, it is cultivated in 50,000 ha in Mehsana, Banaskantha and Sabarkantha districts of Gujarat and Jalore, Pali, Jodhpur, Barmer, Nagour and Sirohi districts of Rajasthan. Recently its cultivation has been extended to Mandsaur district of Madhya Pradesh. India is the largest producer of isabgol seed and seed-husk, 90% of the total being exported all over the world. The seed husk is rosy-white membranous covering which constitutes the drug in commerce. It is a safe laxative which is beneficial in habitual constipation, chronic diarrhoea and dysentery. It is also used in dyeing and calico printing, ice cream-making as a stabilizer, cosmetics and confectionery industries. The leftover seeds, after removal of husk, is a rich source of protein and is used as a poultry feed.

Isabgol grows 30–50cm tall and remains in field for about 120 days. It gives out a large number of tillers from the base, 60 days after sowing, which in turn bear a rosette of long, narrow, 3-nerved, distantly toothed leaves covered with soft hair, 7.0–20 × 0.6cm in dimension. It produces 10–15 ovoid or cylindrical, terminal 1.2–4cm long spikes, containing 45–69 colourless bisexual tetramerous protogynous flowers, subtended by a bract. The mature capsules are formed in next 2 months. Brown-purplish in colour, these capsules are oval-shaped, each containing two seeds. The seed is long, elliptical-ovate, 2–3.5mm × 1–1.5mm in dimension and dull-white in colour.

Isabgol is predominantly grown as cold season crop over marginal, well-drained, light sandy to sandy-loam soils having a pH of 7–8. It requires cool climate and dry sunny weather. Strong winds during crop maturity can affect seed maturing and induce seed shedding causing heavy yield losses. However, it gives significantly higher grain yield on medium fertile loamy soil.

Gujarat Isabgol 1 and Gujarat Isabgol 2 are popular varieties grown in western India. These cultures produce a grain yield of 1 tonne/ha, but Gujarat Isabgol 2 is dwarf and relatively tolerant to downy mildew. Haryana Isabgol, a recently developed and released variety, is recommended for growing in Haryana.

The land should be well prepared to a fine tilth and laid out into small beds of convenient size (8m × 3m) to facilitate irrigation. It is preferably mixed with 15 cartloads of well-rotten farmyard manure/ha during land preparation. November to mid-December is sowing time. Delay in sowing reduces vegetative growth. Seed (4kg/ha) mixed with 10 times of sand or sieved farmyard manure should be sown in lines 30cm apart. The seed should be treated with metalaxyl SD-35 (5g/kg) or mercuric chloride (3g/kg). The line sown crop facilitates proper weeding. Cover the seed bed with a thin film of soil by sweeping through by a broom. Sometimes, irrigation given after sowing may sweep the light seed out of the sown beds which can be avoided by sowing seed over moist fields. The seeds germinate 6–7 days after sowing. A light irrigation should be given to facilitate germination.

The crop is weeded and hoed 20–25 days and 50–60 days after sowing. Application of 0.5kg/ha of Isoproturon as pre-sowing or pre-emergence treatment reduces cost of weeding considerably. The crop needs irrigation at 30 and 70 days age. It makes low response to inorganic fertilizers. The basal application of 25–30kg each of N and P is sufficient for light and medium fertility sandy soils. If the soil is deficient in N fertilizer (or where crop is raised over loamy soils), 25–30kg of N/ha should additionally be topdressed 40 days after sowing. In fact, the response to N fertilization to clay-loam soil is better where two split doses of a total 25–30kg is recommended for topdressing 30 and 50 days after sowing. The usual crop rotation followed in Gujarat and Rajasthan is pearlmillet: isabgol and jowar: isabgol, whereas cowpea and clusterbean: isabgol is superior to improve the fertility of soil.

The crop matures during March–April 110–130 days after sowing. The weather should be dry and sunny at harvesting. Yellowing of lower leaves is an indicator of maturity which is confirmed by pressing a drying spike between 2 fingers when the mature seeds come out easily. The plants are cut at the ground level after 10 am, bundled and transported to thrashing shed. These are allowed to dry for 2–3 days and then thrashed with the help of bullocks or a tractor. The thrashing is done in early morning hours which allows easy separation of seeds from its spike. Average grain yield varies between 800 and 1,000 kg/ha depending upon several factors though most farmers growing the crop obtain lower yields. However, 1.8–2.0 tonnes/ha yield is obtained from medium-textured clay-loam soils of Mandsaur and Udaipur.

Isabgol seed marketing is relatively better organized in Gujarat. Farmers bring their produce from all over the small townships of Siddhpur, Unjha, Patan, Palanpur, Jatana, Mehsana, Visnagar etc. The produce is auctioned daily during harvest season in which purchasers of milling firms participate and buy the produce. A bold seed crop fetches better price. Fresh seeds, have 6 months dormancy and 2-year-old seeds lose their viability. The seeds are cleaned and fed into a series of stone shellers for removing seed husk. In each sheller, the pressure is so adjusted as to remove the husk, which is separated by fans and passed through sieves at each sheller. The husk: seed ratio is 25:75 by weight. A small sheller can process about 8 tonnes seeds/day and run usually for 4–5 months in the season. The quality of husk is tested on the basis of its swelling factor (1:11 times by volume). The leftover seed material, after removal of husk, is called ‘gola' which contains 20% proteins and 8–10% fatty oil besides it is rich in amino acids like lysine, tryptophane and methionine and is a good poultry feed.

   
 
 
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Indian basil
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Isabgol
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