Arecanut Cultivation (Betel Nut/Supari) Guide:
Introduction of Arecanut Cultivation:- The areca nut palm produces the common chewing nut which is popularly known as betel nut or supari. This nut is consumed in very large extent hence has great demand. In India, areca nut is very much linked with religious practices. India is the largest producer and consumer of areca nut in the world. The areca nut is not a true nut, but rather a fruit categorized as a drupe. It is commercially available in dried, cured and fresh forms. Commercial cultivation of areca nut is more successful in India. This nut palm belongs to the family of “Arecaceae” and genus of “Areca L.”.
Major Production States of Arecanut in India:- Major states growing Arecanut crop are Karnataka, Kerala, Assam, Tamil Nadu, Meghalaya & West Bengal.
Local Names of Arecanut in India:- Supari (Hindi), Vakka, Poka chekka (Telugu), Supari (Marathi), Adake, Puga, Kaungu (Kannada), Supari(Bengali), Buah or Puah (Assamese), Atekka, Ghonta, Kamuka (Malayalam), Kamugu, Pakku, Pugam (Tamil), Supari (Urdu).
Varieties of Arecanut:– Subamangala, Mangala, Sumangala, Mohitnagar, Hirehalli dwarf, Samruthi (Andaman), VTLAH 1, 2, Thirthahalli dwarf and Srimangala are the main commercial varieties cultivated in India.
Soil and Climate Requirements for Arecanut Cultivation:- Arecanut can be grown on wide range of soils. However, This crop thrives best in well drained soils with good organic matter. In order to avoid sun-scorch, adequate protection from exposure to South-Western sun should be needed. Quick growing shade providing trees should be planted on the southern and western sides well before of planting arecanut seedlings. This palm nut tree is sensitive to moisture deficit and should be grown where adequate irrigation is available. This crop requires well distributed annual rainfall of 750 mm to 4500 mm. This crop can be grown altitude up to 1000 meter above mean sea level (msl).The ideal temperature range of 10°C to 40°C is best for its growth and yield.
Land Preparation in Arecanut Cultivation:- Land should be ploughed and harrowed couple of times to bring the soil to fine tilth stage and make the field weed free from previous crops.
Propagation in Arecanut Cultivation:- Propagation in arecanut farming is done through seeds.
Best season Arecanut Cultivation:- June – December is found to be the good for it’s planting.
Seed Selection, Sowing, Planting in Arecanut Cultivation:- For raising seedlings, it is very important to select the seeds from pre-marked and pre-potent mother palms of outstanding performance. and should be sown at a distance 5 cm to 6 cm apart in sand beds under partial shade with their stalk end pointing upwards. After the sprouts have produced 2 to 3 leaves, they are transplanted to polythene bags of 30 cm x 10 cm filled with forest soil and should be allowed to grow for 12 to 18 months under partial shade. The seedlings can also be transplanted in secondary nursery beds with a spacing of 30 cm on either side. Sufficient irrigation should be given to the seedlings.
Dwarf and compact seedlings with more number of leaves should be selected. Seedlings of 1 to 2 years of age should be planted in pits of about 90 x 90 x 90 cm at a spacing of 2.75 to 3.0 meter either way and covered with soil to the collar level of the plants and press the soil around. It is essential to provide shade during summer months. Growing Banana or other crops well in advance may also provide some shade.
Irrigation in Arecanut Cultivation:- Arecanut cannot withstand drought for a long time. Being a perennial crop, once affected by water stress, it may require two-three years to regain the normal vigour and yield. The death of palms due to moisture stress is possible in long drought season. Irrigation should be given @ intervals of 4 and 10 days for better growth and yield. The quantity of water required is about 175 to 200 lit per palm/irrigation. However, in case of areas having water problem can adopt drip irrigation or sprinkler irrigation to overcome the water problem. Drainage channels should be made based on soil type. In heavy soils drainage channels should be dug in each row to drain out the excess water. The channels should be at least 15 cm to 30 cm deeper than the depth at which the palm nut seedlings are planted.
Weed Control in Arecanut Cultivation:- Regular manual weeding tasks should be carried out to make the nut orchard weed free. Weeding is done twice or thrice a year by spade digging. Light forking or digging after cessation of monsoon should be carried out. Remove any dead or diseased palm leaves. Mulching can be done to prevent weed growth and soil erosion, terracing can also be done to prevent soil erosion in sloppy areas. This also helps in retaining the water from evaporation.
Manures and Fertilizers in Arecanut Cultivation:- 10 to 20 kg of well-rotten farm yard manure should be applied to a fruit bearing palm which is 5 years old or above. When it comes to N: P: K ratio, 100:40:140 grams /palm/year should be applied. For younger palms which are less than 5 years old, half of the above mentioned dose is recommended. Make sure to apply these during Jan-Feb. These fertilizers should be applied at the basin of 0.75 to 1.25 meter radius around the palm tree to a depth of 20 to 25 cm.
Intercropping in Arecanut Cultivation:- Black pepper, coffee, vanilla, cocoa, citrus, cinnamon and clove can be cultivated as intercrop in arecanut cultivation.
Pests and Diseases in Arecanut Cultivation:-
- Pests: Mites, Spindle bug, Inflorescence caterpillars and Nematode are the common pests found in arecanut cultivation.
- Diseases: Bud rot or Mahali disease, Stem breaking, Foot rot or Anabe, Yellow leaf disease, Leaf spot and Nut crack are the common diseases found in areca nut cultivation.
To control these pests and diseases, contact your local department of agriculture or nearest agriculture university or horticulture department.
Harvesting in Arecanut Cultivation:- In arecanut farming, the nut bearing starts after 5 years of planting. Generally, nuts are harvested when they are three quarters ripe. The number of harvestings will vary from 3 to 6 in 1 year depending upon the season and place of cultivation.
Yield in Arecanut Cultivation:- In any crop cultivation, yield depends on the cultivar selected and soil/climate and farm management practices. In arecanut cultivation, an average yield of 300 to 400 nuts / palm / year or 1250 kg/ha can be obtained.
Post harvesting Tasks in Arecanut Cultivation:- Storing the nuts after harvesting is one of the major tasks. There are 14 insect and mites that can damage the nuts during storage. Hence storing in jute bags soaked in 0.1% Lindane solution is highly recommended. When nuts are stored in such bags, they remain free from insect infestation for up to 5 to 6 months. Phostoxin tablets @ 800 grams / 100 m3 are also effective in controlling stored areca nut pests.
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