A step by step guide to Palak farming in polyhouse
Palak belongs to a family of “Amaranthaceae” and it is native of central and western Asia. It is a perennial vegetable and cultivated throughout the world. Palak is also known as “Spinach”. Palak is a rich source of iron, vitamin, and antioxidants and it has many health benefits. Palak helps to increases immunity and it is good for digestion, also good for skin, hair, eyes and brain health.
Palak or Spinach is one of the most common leafy vegetables of tropical and subtropical regions. The popular palak growing states include Uttar Pradesh, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, West Bengal, Maharashtra, Kerala, Rajasthan, Punjab, Haryana, and Gujarat.
Popular varieties with their yield
The popular varieties of Palak are given below;
Punjab Green: This Palak plant is semi-erect with dark shining leaves. Ready for first cutting in 30 days after sowing. Gives average yield of 125 qtl/acre. It has low oxalic acid content.
Punjab Selection: Leaves are slightly sour. Purple pigmentation present on stem. It gives an average yield of 115 quintal/acre.
Other state varieties are Pusa Jyoti, Pusa Palak, Pusa harit, Pusa Bharati
Palak farming in polyhouse:
It thrives in polyhouse and is easy to grow by simply following these steps;
Polyhouse is one kind of greenhouse where polyethylene is used as the cover. In India, polyhouse farming is the popular greenhouse technology for its low cost of construction. Poly houses are mostly naturally ventilated climate controlled.
Polyhouse farming is a method of protected cultivation in agriculture. In the polyhouse polyethylene plastic is used to cover the structure. It enables to cultivate high-value crops or horticulture in the structure.
Polyhouse is economical when compared to a glasshouse or greenhouse but the later is more durable than polyhouse.
Polyhouse farming should be designed in such a way that smart farmers can produce high-value crops out of season when prices of farm produce are at their highest. This is the way you can get higher incomes and a higher return on the high initial investment. Since you can control light, ambient temperature, humidity, and water for irrigation, you can generate all the crops that fetch a high price in local and regional markets. In polyhosues, you can generate pesticide-free produce or even organic produce that fetch a higher price due to their high nutrition value, better taste, and freshness.
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Polyhouse based on environmental control:
Naturally Ventilated Polyhouses: The structures have very good ventilation systems to prevent basic weather and natural damage. But, they do not have any additional provisions to control the environment in polyhouse farming.
Environmentally Controlled Polyhouse: This kind of polyhouse is constructed for off-season production. Factors like light, temperature, carbon dioxide levels, and humidity, etc. are controlled.
Size of Polyhouse:
A bigger polyhouse would have more temperature build-up especially if there is no proper ventilation. In case of naturally ventilated polyhouse, the length must not exceed 60m.
Requirements for Palak farming in polyhouse:
Palak prefers a cool climate. The minimum temperature for seed germination is 2°C with a maximum germination temperature of 30°C and an optimum range of 7 to 24°C. Young plants can withstand temperature range as low as -9°C.
Soil requirement for Palak farming in polyhouse:
It can be grown on any kind of soil having good drainage capacity. But it gives a good result when grown on sandy loam and alluvial soil. Avoid acidic soils waterlogged soils for spinach cultivation. the pH level of soil should be in the range of 6 to 7.
Land preparation for Palak farming:
The soil must be prepared by plowing 2-3 times. After ploughing do leveling of soil for uniform bed formation then prepared bed and irrigation channels.
Irrigation/Water provision in polyhouse:
For proper seed germination and good growth, the soil must have enough moisture content. At the time of sowing if proper soil moisture is not present in soil then present pre-sowing irrigation.
First irrigation must be given after sowing. In summer month, apply irrigation at an interval of 4-6 days whereas in winter month applies irrigation at an interval of 10 to 12 days. Avoid over-irrigation also care must be taken not to water on leaves, as it will lead to the occurrence of disease and deterioration of quality. Drip irrigation proves to be helpful for Palak cultivation in polyhouse.
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Advantages of polyhouse palak farming:
- Palak can be grown under adverse climatic conditions when it is not possible to grow them in the open field.
- Palak crops can be grown around the year in a particular place for a continuous supply.
- Productivity is 8 to 10 times higher than the Palak crops grown in open fields.
- Management of insect pests, diseases and weeds are easier under these polyhouse structures.
- These structures are preferably suited for small farmers and unemployed youth from rural areas.
- Any type of land can be used for the erection of polyhouse structures.
- Precise irrigation and fertilization are probable.
- Export-oriented production is most possible under these structures.
Spinach seed treatment process:
Palak seed can be sized to be precision seeded. Fresh seed will germinate readily at soil temperatures as low as 3 to 4°C and excellent results are obtained at 10 to 16°C. At higher temperatures, there is a more rapid emergence but decreased the percentage of germination. Palak seed more than a year old rarely germinates over 80%. The older seed is even less viable and germinates slowly and irregularly.
Sow at a rate of 13 to 17 kg of seed per hectare when using non-precision seeders. Less than one-third of this will be required if the crop is precision seeded. Sow seed at a depth of 0.5 to 1 cm and at a spacing of 25 seeds per meter of the row for fresh market farming and up to 40 per meter of the row for processing production. Rows can be spaced 18 to 60 cm apart depending on cultivation equipment and Palak plant population. Seed could be broadcast where weed control is not a problem. Sow seed outside as soon as soil can be worked in the early spring until mid to late May and then for fall crops during the August month.
Palak is very susceptible to leaf miner attacks. Smear them on the underside of the leaf with a finger, or sprinkle with a garlic-soap spray.
Blue mold or downy mildew virus and mosaic virus are just as catastrophic. Blue mold or downy mildew is more managed by eliminating infected leaves. Look for yellow bits on the tip of the palak leaf and a grayish-blue mold on the underside or apply a prescribed fungicide.
Aphids are fond of Palak. But normally, a high-pressure water splash will knock them down or you can attempt to use one of the organic sprays available.
Caterpillars adore Palak, too. Apply one of the organic worm sprays to catch them without risk to pests, diseases, and helpful insects.
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Tips for thriving Palak plants:
- Palak can tolerate cold weather relatively well. However, young plants can need the protection of thick mulch in winter.
- Palak does not require any special care. Even working the ground around the roots is unnecessary because its roots are shallow and any cultivation can simply damage them. Instead, apply mulch to suppress weeds and maintain the soil moistly.
- Packed Palak plants may tend to stay damp for continued periods. This can be a difficulty with a lot of diseases that bother the Palak plants. It is vital to keep them thinned and regularly weeded to keep fresh air circulation through the leaves.
Harvesting of Palak:
Depending upon variety, Palak is ready for first cutting 25-30 days after sowing. For harvesting time, use a sharp knife or sickle. Depending upon variety and season, subsequent cutting must be done at an interval of 20-25 days.
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