Asparagus Cultivation Guide:
Introduction of Asparagus Cultivation:- Asparagus plant is a herbaceous and perennial that will reach the height of 100 cm to 150 cm , with stout stems with much-branched, feathery foliage. Asparagus belongs to the family of “Asparagaceae” and genus of “Asparagus”. Asparagus can be used as both vegetable and medicine. This vegetable can be cultivated up to 1300 meters mean sea level (msl) in tropical and subtropical parts of India. Usually, asparagus roots are in grey colour and tuberous. Other common names for Asparagus are “Satamuli”, “Abhiru” and “Satavar”. Basically, Asparagus Plant IS native to the western coasts of Europe. When it comes to India, this vegetable is grown throughout India. Only young asparagus shoots are commonly eaten and used in preparing various dishes across the globe. Generally, purple asparagus differs from its green and white counterparts in having high sugar and low fiber levels. Asparagus plant is a useful companion plant for tomatoes, as the tomato plant repels the asparagus beetle. Asparagus also useful to repel some harmful root nematodes that affect tomato crop.
Health Benefits of Asparagus:- The following are some of the health benefits of Asparagus.
- Asparagus is good for heart health.
- Asparagus helps in regulating blood sugar.
- Asparagus possesses Anti-aging benefits.
- Asparagus helps in lowering the risk of type-2 diabetes.
- Asparagus is good for skin health.
- Asparagus helps in preventing kidney stones.
- Asparagus is good for pregnant women.
- Asparagus is good for digestive health.
- Asparagus reduces the risk of getting cancer.
Local Names of Asparagus in India:- Shatwar (Hindi), Shatmuli (Telugu), சாத்தாவாரியினம் (Tamil), શતાવરીનો છોડ (Malayalam), Satabari (Oriya), Satomul (Assamese), ಶತಾವರಿ (Kannada), Satawari (Marathi), আসবগান্ধা (Bengali).
Climate Requirements for Asparagus Cultivation:- Asparagus can be easily cultivated in sub-tropical and sub-temperate agro-climatic regions up to 1300 meters.
Soil Requirements for Asparagus Cultivation:- Asparagus can be grown in wide range of soils. However, well-drained soils rich in organic matter with pH 6.5 to 7.5 are ideal for its cultivation. If the soil is more acidic in nature, liming should be done. On heavy soils consider creating raised beds.
Propagation in Asparagus Cultivation:- Asparagus can be propagated through crowns or seeds. Quality crowns can be selected from reputed nursery and transplant in the field. However, it can be grown from seed as well. Local suitable high yielding all-male hybrid variety seeds should be selected for sowing.
Land Preparation, Planting in Asparagus Cultivation:- Carry out deep ploughing about 20 to 25 cm followed by 2 to 3 harrowing after few days. Make sure to remove any weeds from previous crops and proper levelling of the soil should be done. Prepare about 45 cm broad ridges for plantation leaving 20 cm furrow space as a channel for irrigation.
Nursery Raising and Planting in Asparagus Cultivation:- Asparagus seeds should be sown in the month of April in raised beds at 5 cm apart to facilitate decay of its hard seed coat by the time monsoon enters. Germination starts in 7 to 10 days after the first shower of monsoon in June month. The seedlings should be transplanted on ridges at 60 cm x 60 cm apart and provided bamboo stakes as part of training.
Vegetative propagation is by division of rhizomatous disc present at the base of the aerial stem. The rhizomatous disc develops several vegetative buds around the aerial shoots. The disc is divided in such a way that each piece possessed at least 2 buds along with 2 to 3 tuberous roots. These pieces are planted conversing the buds with 1cm of soil followed by light irrigation. The sprouting should start in 8 to 10 days after plantation.
Training in Asparagus Cultivation:- To avoid the top-growth breaking in windy climate and damaging the crowns, use stakes and garden twine to make a fence either side of the row for supporting the crop.
Irrigation in Asparagus Cultivation:- Irrigation requirement depends on the soil type, climate and season. Generally irrigation should be given after monsoon is over. This crop requires 2 to 3 irrigations in winter season and 2 irrigations per month in summer season. In case of heavy rains, make sure to provide good channel to drain out the water.
Intercultural Operations in Asparagus Cultivation:- Keep the asparagus beds weed free and carry out weeding by hand rather than with a hoe, as the shallow roots of the asparagus plants can be easily damaged. Two to Three weedings should be carried out during the rainy season and subsequent weeding should be done one in 2 to 3 months. Mulch the beds to prevent weed growth and retain soil moisture. Usually, male plants produce more and better spears and most of the modern cultivars are all-male. Remove any female plants from the field. Female plants are easy to notice because they produce orange-red berries.
Manures and Fertilizers in Asparagus Cultivation:- In case of growing the plants for medicinal purpose, they should be cultivated without any chemical fertilizers and pesticides. Planting field should be supplemented with garden compost or well decomposed organic manure or farm yard manure or vermi-compost or green manure. To prevent any pests and diseases, prepare bio-pesticides from Neem and cow urine etc… For commercial crops, the chemical fertilizer requirement can be found from local horticulture department.
Pests and Diseases in Asparagus Cultivation:- Purple spot, Rust, Fusarium Crown, Root and Lower Stem Rot, Phytophthora Crown, Root and Spear Rot, Beetle, Aphids, Cutworm, Armyworm, Rose Chafer and Asparagus Miner are the diseases and pests found in asparagus cultivation. Contact any horticulture department to identify these pests , diseases and control measures.
Harvesting In Asparagus Cultivation:- It is not recommended to harvest for the first 2 years after planting. In the third year, harvest spears from mid-April for 6 weeks. In subsequent years, harvesting can be carried for 8 weeks from mid-April. Cut individual spears with a sharp knife below the soil when they are no more than 18cm tall. In warm weather, harvest every two to three days for the best quality spears. These plants can be harvested after 40 to 42 months in winter. The roots of the plants should be dug-out and peeled off with the help of sharp knife immediately after harvesting.
Yield in Asparagus Cultivation:- Yield depends on the cultivar , soil type and farm management practices. An average yield of 5 to 6 tonnes of dry roots can be obtained.
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