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New mutant crossandra with attractive flowers

By Our Agriculture Correspondent

The improved variety has a potential to yield 75 kg flowers per hectare in a day from the second year of planting.

A HIGH yielding crossandra with light orange hue has been developed by the innovative farmer-scientist Mr. T. Vengadapathy Reddiar of Koodapakkam village in Pondicherry. `

`This new variety is a mutant of Delhi crossandra, and it is developed through gamma irradiation techniques. It has an average yield of 75 kg per hectare a day from the twelfth month of planting, and with its endearing orange hue it will fetch a premium price in the market,'' says Mr. Vengadapathy Reddiar.

Christened ``Lakshmi'', the improved variety resembles the parent Delhi crossandra in plant type and appearance, and it is distinguished by the pleasing orange-coloured, larger flowers, according to him. In his newly established ``Lakshminarayana Crossandra Innovation Centre'', Mr. Vengadapathy Reddiar has developed this variety after painstaking research and intensive field trials.

``I had to select this variety from the several mutants produced after the gamma irradiation. The screening process was done keeping in view the flower colour, yield and various other features which would be appreciated by the growers as well as the consumers,'' he explained.

Mr. Vengadapathy Reddiar has developed several improved crossandra varieties over the last two decades, and has won several honours and awards for his committed and innovative research work. Recently, he received a special award for the grass-root level innovators instituted by the National Innovation Foundation and SEVA (Sustainable Agriculture and Environmental Voluntary Action), an NGO based in Madurai. He has been actively collaborating with scientists at the Indira Gandhi Centre for Atomic Research, Kalpakkam, to develop improved crossandra varieties using gamma irradiation.

The variety does well in light loamy soils with rich organic base. It responds well to the application of biofertilizers and other enriched organic nutrition and amendments.

The beneficial soil-borne organisms such as Trichoderma viride and Pseudomonas may be applied at 12.5 kg per hectare to keep the diseases at bay.

Botanical insecticides, cow's urine and vermi-wash could be used to repel pests and to encourage crop growth and higher flower yield.

It can be planted all through the year. However, for best results planting should be taken up from January to July.

An espacement of 90 cm x 90 is recommended, and the well-conditioned layers should be planted in pits of 15 cm x 15 cm x 15 cm. About 12,500 layers will be needed to cover a hectare. Regular irrigation schedule to keep an optimum soil moisture should be followed.

The plants will then start flowering within a month after planting. them. The initial yield will be low, and about 7.5 kg flowers per hectare can be picked from the third month of planting.

The yield will increase gradually, and high yields of about 50 kg per hectare can be got from the sixth month of planting. The plants can be maintained to give economic yields for upto three years, according to him.

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