Introduction: Hello farmers today we are here with a great information of Gherkin Farming in India. Gherkin (Cucumis anguria) is also called bur gherkin or West Indian gherkin, an annual trailing vine of the gourd family, grown for its edible fruit. The Gherkin plant is likely native to southern Africa and is grown in warm climates around the world. Gherkin fruits are served raw, cooked, or pickled, though the “gherkins” sold in commercial pickle mixtures are generally small, immature fruits of the common cucumber.
A full guide to Gherkin farming in India, cultivation practices
The Gherkin fruit similar in form and nutritional value to a cucumber. Gherkins and cucumbers belong to the same species that is Cucumis sativus but are different cultivar groups. While there is a growing worldwide demand for pickled gherkins, more and more food companies have started to explore opportunities for producing gherkins. This is mainly true of India given the favorable growing conditions in that country.
Gherkin plants can be grown throughout the year in all seasons. It provides mainly employment opportunities to the family members of both the landholders and landless laborers in rural areas. This plant has palmately lobed leaves with toothed edges and can reach 2.5 meters (8 feet) in length. It bears small flowers and produces furrowed prickly fruits about 5 cm (2 inches) long. The Gherkin plant is intolerant of frost and is fairly resistant to most pests and diseases.
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Cultivation practices of Gherkins
Gherkin is a term normally used to refer to a savory pickled cucumber. They are generally picked when 4 to 8 cm (1 to 3 in) in length and pickled in jars or cans with vinegar (often flavored with herbs, particularly dill; hence, “dill pickle”) or brine. India has today emerged as the origin of the main Gherkin cultivation, processing, and exporters to the every-growing world requirement.
Gherkin cultivation in India is determined largely by contract farming. Gherkin is an export-oriented vegetable or cucurbit crop. Karnataka state accounts for about 90 percent of exports of preserved Gherkins.
Gherkin cultivation and exports started in India during the early 1990s with a modest beginning in Karnataka State in South India and later extended to the neighboring states of Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh. The export of processed gherkin is done by about 51 companies located mainly in Karnataka, Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh.
Gherkin industry in India is mainly concentrated in the three southern states of Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh (AP) and Tamil Nadu. Karnataka accounts for almost 60 percent of the Gherkin production. Also, Tamil Nadu and AP each account for 20%.
Gherkin crops are grown in contact with small and marginal farmers. Currently, there are more than 1,00,000 small and marginal farmers who are engaged in the Gherkin production. Gherkins are cultivated exclusively on a “contract farming” basis.
Gherkin industry in India is fully oriented and its exports are mainly of two categories;
- Provisionally Preserved that means preserved in vinegar, acetic acid, and brine
- Preserved in Vinegar
Provisionally preserved – Gherkin exports are in bulk form in 220 liters; packed in food-grade High-Density Poly Ethelene drums (H.D.P.E.). This is later repacked by the importers into smaller, ready to eat consumer packs to suit their consumer’s requirements.
Preserved in Vinegar – These are ready to eat Gherkins which are in packs of jars and cans.
Gherkin industry in India is well established with exports reaching 2,25,000 metric tones per annum. Exports are to all major countries like the USA, France, Germany, Australia, Spain, South Korea, Canada, Japan, Belgium, Russia, China, Srilanka, Israel, and Estonia.
Agricultural extension process for Gherkin farming in India
Gherkin Seeds of only approved quality are issued to farmers, who have been selected as per well-defined criteria with facilities necessary for growing the desired quality, as per the international standards. The industry constantly endeavors to employ the best practices in Agronomy, Irrigation, Disease Control, and Pest Control and Post-harvest handling to ensure that the best quality raw material is brought to the factory for processing.
Soil requirement for Gherkin farming
Well-drained sandy loam with a pH range of 6.0 to 6.8 is optimum for Gherkin farming. Heat-absorbing, humus-rich soil with good water holding capacity and good structure is normally suited for cultivating gherkins. These contain humic loamy sand and sandy loam as well as black soil. The pH-optimum level lies in the range of pH 5.8 to 7.
Climate requirements for Gherkin farming
The Gherkin plant is frost-sensitive and its thermophily is, among others, demonstrated by the fact that it develops physiological disorders (e.g. stunting) at a night temperature of below 5°C. The Gherkin plant germinates and grows at a minimum temperature of approximately 12°C and opens its flowers from 15°C
Seed rate of Gherkins
Generally, the Gherkin seed rate will be 800 g per hectare.
Gherkin sowing and planting
Use a good weather period (due to the forecasts) for the direct sowing method. Before sowing it is always essential to use soil insecticides such as Counter, Basudin or Galition. First, create a shallow seedbed (3-5 cm) and keep it wet. Carefully, sow the seed on the wet soil and cover with a thin soil layer. In the case of drying out, the soil should be irrigated again.
Sow the Gherkin seeds at 30 cm spacing on sides of the ridges with 2 seeds per hill after treating with Trichoderma viride @ 4 g or Pseudomonas @ 10 g or carbendazim @ 2 g/kg of seeds.
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Due to the cheap plant growing methods of Gherkin planting is carried out at a wider scale in the last times on the contrary of direct sowing. The risk of poor germination (cold and rainy weather, sometimes light frost can occur any time in May) can be carefully avoided with minimal extra costs. Gherkin plant price of the Grow Group is less than the price of two seeds.
When planting, the upper surface of the peat block should be on the same level as the top of the soil and fresh soil parts should not get close to the stem to avoid plant rot diseases. If it is not possible when receiving the Gherkin plants, keep the trays in a sunny place.
How to manure Gherkin plants
Apply N – 150 kg, P – 75 kg and K – 100 kg/ha in 3 equal splits i.e., basal, three and five weeks after the sowing process.
Earth up the plants 25 days after sowing and provide support to plants as and when vines start trailing.
Irrigation requirement for Gherkin farming
Irrigation is a very important factor to get higher yield in Gherkin crop. Based on this importance cent percent of farmers were adopted the irrigation practices as per the crop recommendations. Regarding the weeding operation in crop cent percent of farmers were adopted the practices. Crop canopy will cover the space in between Gherkin crop leads to less weed population might be the reasons for cent percent adoption of weeding operation in Gherkin crop cultivation. Two third of Gherkin farmers (65.00 percent) were adopted the other intercultural operations like staking of Gherkin crop farming. Slightly more than one-third of Gherkin crop farmers have partially adopted the other intercultural operations as per the recommendations. The cost involved in the staking and remaining intercultural operations might be one of the reasons for partial adoption.
On hot summer days, one hectare Gherkin plants can evaporate approximately 80,000 liters of water. The fruit harvest corresponds to the disposal of water (the fruit contains 96% water). A lack of irrigation systems leads to abortion of young fruits and hollow spaces in larger fruits. Depending on the type of planting soil, water has to be applied once or twice per summer day. On heavy soil, up to 8 liters/m2 can be administered with one application and on light soil; this amount has to be split into two applications.
Install a drip system with main and sub-main pipes and then place the inline lateral tubes at an interval of 1.5m. And place the drippers in lateral tubes at an interval of 60 cm and 50 cm spacing with 4 LPH and 3.5 LPH capacities respectively.
Field preparation for Gherkin farming in India
Raise beds of 120 cm width at an interval of 30 cm and then place the laterals at the center of each bed.
Fertigation in Gherkin farming
Apply the recommended dose of fertilizers that is 150:75:100 Kg NPK / ha fertigate on every third day after sowing.
Fertilization is one of the main important determining factors of intensive Gherkin production. If the amount of nutrients is insufficient, yields and income will be lower, also the plants that have a weakened condition are more susceptible to diseases. If the Gherkin plants are wastefully over-fertilized, the costs will quickly increase and the income of the season will stay below the expectations. The concentrated soil solution may cause the burning down of the capillary roots and the plant is not being able to take up the nutrients from the soil.
Irrigation and fertilization by drip normally begin at the first harvest, which is to be expected from mid of June, two weeks after blooming. The fleece must be removed approximately one week before harvest.
Weed control in Gherkin farming in India
The inter-rows can be sealed with soil-applied herbicide film and in case of torrential rain, there is the danger of illuviation. As soon as weeds have emerged hand-high and the fleece is opened. Weeds in the plant sowing holes have to be pulled out by hand. Between the planting rows, hoeing can be done mechanically or a total herbicide can be applied if a spray screen is used. In the latter case, the fleece should not be closed earlier than half a day or a day later.
Plant protection in Gherkin farming in India
To control pests like leaf miner, whitefly, aphids, and thrips spray Dimethoate 1.5 ml/l or Monocrotophos 1.5 ml/l or Malathion 1.5 ml/l.
Spray Carbendazim 0.05 % (0.5 g/l) to control diseases.
The crop is ready for harvest in 30 to 35 days. As the tender immature Gherkin fruits are meant for canning the price of the product is decided by the stage of maturity.
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The first stem fruits have to be harvested carefully to stimulate further fruit setting. A picking rhythm of 2 to 4 days is necessary depending on the weather conditions and the fruit size aimed at. For primarily smaller gradings of up to 9 cm, fruits have to be harvested every other day. That adds up to a surface of a maximum of 5 ha (per so-called ‘gherkin flyer’ with 24 people) on which harvest can take place. With a larger grading mix up of to 15 cm, the picking process can take place at intervals of 3.5 days. In that case, the ‘flyer’ capacity is approximately 8 ha. Regular fruit picking of all target sizes without missing single fruits leads to a balanced fruiting habit in case of need-adjusted fertilization and water management.
To maintain the grade the harvesting of fruits must be done every day. A day’s break would end up with outsized or overgrown gherkin crops means a loss to the farmer. Please avoid the sharp sun and high temperature while harvesting. For this picking of fruits must be none in the early morning or late evening.
Harvest the Gherkin fruits by retaining the stalk on the plant. Harvested fruits should be collected under shade. The flower head has to be removed from fruit and water should not be sprinkled on harvested fruits at any stage. Even if there is surface water during harvest it must be dried by aeration. For a collection of fruits jute bags alone have to be used and plastic bags must be avoided. The harvested produce should be transported to the factory on the same day before dusk and leaving the gherkin unprocessed overnight would result in poor quality produce.
Healthy crop tips
To get the most benefit out of the sunlight and thus maximizing the assimilation procedure, it is recommended to prepare the Gherkin rows in an east to west direction. In addition to that keep the Gherkin field always free from weeds to create efficient use of the supplied nutrients and also to keep pests and diseases under control.
Apply the fertilizer four inches away from the Gherkin plants and cover it by soil. Also, spray calcium nitrate and potassium nitrate at 3 grams per liter every week.
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