Organic technologies for cashew
By Our Agriculture Correspondent
Organically grown nuts and apples are free of toxic residues.
SCIENTISTS AT the Cashew Research Station (CRS) of the Kerala Agricultural University (KAU) at Madakkathara have developed an organic package of technologies for raising cashew. "Organic cashew fetches a premium price in the international market. By adopting the organic package of technologies, it is possible to sustain cashew production on a long-term," says Dr.M.Abdul Salam, Associate Dean, College of Agriculture of KAU at Padannakad in Kasaragodu district.
An expert in organic cashew production, Dr.Abdul Salam and his team have identified suitable varieties, and worked out the optimum spacing, season, method of planting, post-planting care, soil and water conservation, weed management, intercropping, crop protection, manuring and harvesting.
A number of improved varieties of cashew such as Anakkayam-1, Madakkanthara-1, Madakkanthara-2, Kanaka, Dhana, Priyanka, Dhanasree, Sulabha, Amrutha, Anagha and Akshaya, have been found ideal for this ecologically sound approach, according to Abdul Salam.
A spacing of 7.5 m x 7.5 m has been recommended for poor soils, and for rich, deep and coastal sandy soils a wider spacing of 10 m x 10 m is prescribed. In sloppy regions, the rows may be kept 10-15m apart and the distance between trees within a row can be maintained between 6 and 8 m.
The square or triangular system of planting can be adopted for high density planting. June-July or September-October is the best season for planting. The grafts of elite varieties should be planted in pits of 60 cm x 60 cm x 60 cm, and pits should be filled up with ripe organic manure. Regular irrigation in the early years will help in bringing up the plantation in good health.Adequate care should be taken to ensure soil and water conservation. The field should be kept free of undesirable vegetation. Intercrops such as tapioca, groundnut, banana, pulses and vegetables can be raised in the first 3-4 years.
The young plants should be protected against tea mosquito bug and stem borer using eco-friendly strategies. The tea mosquito bug can be repelled by smoking the garden with organic residues during flushing, flowering and fruiting seasons, and by resorting to spraying with Pongamia oil (2 per cent) during the same phases of development. The use of bio-control agents such as weaver ant may help in checking the tea mosquito bugs.
Practising sound crop hygiene, and the use of botanical insecticides such as neem can effectively check the stem borer. Coal tar and kerosene mixed in 1:2 ratio, may be used to swab the tree trunks for up to a metre from the ground in September. This has to be repeated twice at an interval of 60 days. Mud slurry or neem oil can be also be used for swabbing the trunks. Mechanical extraction of the grubs will also prove to be rewarding, according to Salam.
A number of cultural practices such as weeding, training and pruning can contribute to the reduction in the pest population.
Liberal application of the organic manure can adequately meet the nutrient requirement of the trees. An adult tree needs 50 g each of nitrogen and potash and 250 g of phosphorus for sound establishment.
This can be met by the addition of about 50 kg farmyard manure and incorporation of leaf litter and other organic amendments in the soil.
Vertical mulching and vertical trenching will help in conservation of soil and retention of moisture in the root zone. The fruits will be ready for harvest in about two months after fertilization of the flowers.
The ripe fruits will drop off to the ground, which can be collected manually. The nuts can be separated from the apple, dried for two days and stored till they are dispatched to the markets.
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