Fennel Farming Guide:
Introduction of Fennel Farming:- Fennel is a stout and aromatic plant crop which is commercially cultivated as an annual herb. Fennel is used in culinary (cooking) and in medicines as well. Fennel belongs to the family of “Apiaceae” and genus of “Foeniculum”. Fennel is a hardy, perennial herb with yellow flowers and feathery leaves. This plant indigenous to the shores of the Mediterranean but has become widely naturalized in many parts of the globe. Fennel is a highly aromatic and flavorful herb that can reach up to 2.5 meters height. India is the top producer of fennel seeds in the world. One can get decent profits by going for fennel seed production by selecting high yielding variety and following good farm management practices.
Health Benefits of Fennel:- The following are some of the health benefits of fennel seed and herb.
- Fennel is good for digestion.
- Fennel is useful in the treatment of anemia.
- Fennel is extensively used for treating constipation, diarrhea, renal colic, respiratory dis-orders, and menstrual disorders.
- Fennel boosts estrogen in women reproductive system.
- Fennel helps in increasing iron absorption.
- Fennel is good for bone health.
- Fennel helps in lowering blood pressure.
- Fennel is a good source of fiber, potassium, folate, vitamin C and vitamin B-6.
- Fennel is good for heart health.
- Fennel may reduce getting cancer.
- Fennel boosts immune power.
- Fennel helps in reducing chronic inflammation.
- Fennel helps in weight management.
- Fennel is good for skin health.
Local Names of Fennel in India:- Fennel seeds (English), Saunf / Sonp (Hindi), Perunjeeragam / Shombei / Sathakuppai (Tamil), Sopu/Sompu (Telugu), Sompu / Badi-Sopu / Dodda Jeerige / Dodda Sompu (Kannada), Panmohuri / Mauri / Methe (Bengali), Variari / Warjari (Gujarati), Shep (Konkani), Saunf / Badishep (Marathi), Panmohuri (Oriya), Badi Saunf / Shathapushpaa (Punjabi).
Major Production Sates of Fennel in India:- Fennel is grown throughout India. However, major production states of fennel seed are Rajasthan, Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Punjab, Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, Gujarat, Karnataka, and Haryana.
Fennel Varieties:- The following are some of the commercial varieties of fennel grown in India.
- Gujarat Fennel-1: This cultivar is tall and bushy plants with oblong, medium-bold and dark green seeds. This variety is tolerant to sugary disease and leaf-spots. This seed variety crop matures in 225 days. One can obtain average yield of 16.0 to 16.5 quintals seed/ha. This variety is suitable for early-sowing which is tolerant to drought conditions.
- Co-1: Medium tall plants with diffused branching; matures in 225 days with an average yield of 5.75 quintals/ha; suitable for drought-prone, waterlogged, saline and alkaline conditions; suitable for hilly areas.
- RF-125: This variety is a short with compact umbels, long, and bold grains. Generally this variety comes to maturity 110–125 days. The expected yield is about 17 quintals seed /ha.
- RF-101: This variety is a tall, erect, stout stems, long, and bold grains. Usually this variety matures in 145 to 160 days. This cultivar yields about 16 quintals seeds/ha.
- RF-35: This cultivar is a tall, spreading with medium-sized, hairless and green seeds. This variety is tolerant to sugary disease, leaf-spot and leaf-blight. This variety matures in 225 – 230 days. It yields about 13 quintals seed/ha.
Climate Required for Fennel Farming:- Fennel requires cool and dry climatic conditions for its best growth and yield. Dry and cool climate during the seed set will result in seed yield and quality.
Soil Requirement in Fennel Farming:- Fennel crop can be grown in wide range of soils. However, black cotton soils and loamy soils containing lime are best for its cultivation. Soils having rich organic matter are best for high yield. Avoid shallow sandy soils as they are not suitable for fennel crop cultivation. While selecting the soil, make sure to have proper drainage. If you are planning for commercial cultivation of fennel crop, getting soil test done is very important to manage any soil micro-nutrient deficiencies. The optimum soil pH for fennel cultivation is 5.5 – 7.0.
Land Preparation in Fennel Farming:- Land should be given 3 to 4 ploughings and get the soil to fine tilth stage. Add organic matter like farmyard manure of 25 to 20 tonnes in 1 ha field. Remove any weeds from previous crops.
Propagation and Sowing in Fennel Farming:- Propagation of fennel is done by seeds. However, seeds can be directly sown in the field or raised on nursery beds and transplanted to the field. The best time for sowing fennel is mid-September to mid-October. Avoid delaying the sowing which reduces the yield of the crop. Generally seed rate required for direct sowing is about 9–12 kg/ha. Sowing should be carried out deep in rows with distance of 45–60 cm apart. The field should be irrigated immediately after sowing.
Seedlings can be raised on nursery beds during June or July. Generally , 7 to 8 weeks of seedlings are transplanted in the main field.
Manures and Fertilizers in Fennel Farming:- Supplement the soil with 15 to 20 tonnes/ha well-decomposed farmyard manure (FMY) during the land preparation. Afterwards, apply 90 kg of N/ha in 3 equal split doses; first as basal dose along with 40 kg/ha of P2O5, second and third applications at 30 and 60 days after sowing the crop.
Irrigation in Fennel Farming:- First irrigation should be carried immediately after sowing the seeds. Subsequent 1 or 2 light irrigations should be carried until seeds starts germinating. After this, the fennel crop should be irrigated at an interval of 15 to 21 days. As flowering and seed formation stages are critical for good yield and quality, Proper moisture level should maintained and water stress should be avoided.
Weed Control in Fennel Farming:- First hoeing and weeding should be carried out after 1 month of sowing. Weed control is critical activity in fennel crop cultivation. Weeds can be controlled by both means of chemicals and mechanical. When it comes to herbicides to control the weeds, Pendimethalin is most effective. Pendimethalin @ 1.0kg/ ha as Pre-emergence application can be carried out supplemented with one hand-weeding 45 days after sowing.
Pests and Diseases in Fennel Farming:- Aphids, Thrips, Leaf eating caterpillar/gram pod borer, Cutworm, Cigarette beetle, Drug store beetle, Leaf blight, Leaf spot, Damping off, Fusarium wilt, Powdery mildew, Collar rot and Root rot are common insect pests and diseases found in fennel farming.
For control measures of these pests and diseases, contact local agriculture department and any research department in Agriculture University.
Harvesting in Fennel Farming :- The crop will be ready for harvesting in 180 days (6 months) after sowing the seeds. Generally, harvesting should be carried by plucking the umbels when seeds are fully developed and mature but still green. Usually, harvesting time lasts for a month with plucking being done twice or thrice at 10 to 12 days intervals.
Post – Harvesting in Fennel Farming :- After harvesting the crop, it should be in dried under sun for 1 or 2 days and in shade for 8 to 10 days. Afterwards, cleaning and grading the seeds should be carried out. Jute bags can be used to store the dried seed. As seeds are prone to frost conditions, care should be taken while storing the fennel seeds. Spray 0.1% solution of sulphuric acid to prevent the damage from the frost.
Yield in Fennel Farming:- Yield of the crop depends on variety of seed, soil type and fertility, irrigation and crop management practices. On an average, fennel yields about 10 to 11 quintal seed/ha.
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For Asia Farming Information: Read here.