The Cashew tree (Anacardium occidentale) is an evergreen tree and belongs to the sumac (Anacardiaceae) family. It produces Cashew seeds and Cashew apples. Cashews are seeds found growing on the tops of Cashew apples. The Cashew tree can grow up to 6 meters (20 feet), are more profitable with earlier maturity and higher yields.
With earlier maturity, higher yields, and increasing market demand, Cashew has been one of the most popular farming choices for growers. However, a cashew tree will take you two to three years, from planting to harvesting the nuts. So let’s look at the top 20 steps to boost Cashew yield below.
Top 20 steps to boost Cashew yield below
Step 1: Soil requirement for crop growth and yield:
The trees are drought-resistant and can thrive on modest soils. Well-drained sandy soil is ideal for growing Cashews and trees. Cashews can adapt to different soil conditions without loss of productivity. While Cashews can be grown on poor soils, they will do much better on good soils. Deep planting with good soil preparation and more organic fertilizer is recommended for better anchoring, faster growth, and yields.
Soil micronutrients should not be overused at any cost as they will adversely affect other nutrients, crop growth, and yield. Therefore, the soil is applied only once in two years. Since the number of micronutrients given per plant is minimal, it is best to mix it with sand when planting.
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Sep 2: Best climate to produce good yield
Cashew is a tropical plant with good yields and can thrive even at high temperatures. However, young plants are susceptible to frost. For growing Cashews, areas with temperatures between 20 and 30°C with an annual rainfall of 1000-2000 mm are ideal. However, temperatures above 36°C between flowering and fruiting can adversely affect fruit set and retention.
Heavy rains are unfavorable and evenly distributed throughout the year, although trees can grow and sometimes bear fruit. Cashews need a climate with a dry season of at least four months to produce the best yields. Excessive rainfall and high humidity with flowers can increase the incidence of flower/fruit fall and fungal diseases. Therefore, heavy rains and cloudy weather adversely affect Cashew production.
Step 3: Production of quality planting material
The seedlings raised in orchards vary depending on the crop being a cross-pollinated crop, orchard yields, nuts size, apple color, and many more. Vegetative propagation is adopted in Cashews, and it produces more consistent yields and early fruit. Of the various growing methods, softwood grafting was the best for Cashew plants. The production of high-yielding varieties of planting material through softwood grafting techniques has been a significant success story in Cashew and has had a tremendous impact on increasing Cashew’s productivity.
Step 4: Fertilizers for increasing crop yield:
Provide fertilizer during the growing season, especially when the tree is blooming and the nuts are growing. Be sure to use fertilizers containing nitrogen, phosphorus, and possibly zinc. Suppose the continuous felling of the Cashew tree is not balanced with the use of fertilizers and fertilizers. In that case, the health of the soil will deteriorate, and yield and quality will be affected.
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Depending on the initial nutrient status of the soil and subsequent management methods, the response to nutrient use varies from place to place. For example, zinc with lime enhances the production of nuts and the growth of leaves and stems. On the other hand, cashews appear to be less demanding in their nutritional needs. However, the use of nitrogen mainly affects nut production. The integrated use of organic fertilizers, inorganic fertilizers, and micronutrients provides sustainable yields while maintaining soil health.
Step 5: Irrigation reduces fruit drop
Cashew is a hard and rainy crop. Therefore, this crop does not need irrigation. However, it is recommended that the newly planted grafts/seedlings be irrigated for the first two years until their root system is healed. Irrigation during flowering and fruiting helps to reduce fruit fall. Do not overwater the plants. Cashew plants are mainly rainfed varieties. Therefore, plants need water for three years.
Irrigation during flowering and fruiting increases productivity and quality. When Cashews are grown on sandy soils, irrigation is required during the summer months. Proper drainage arrangements should be made to avoid water stagnation. During the flowering months (the second fortnight of December to March), more yields are obtained by irrigating at a distance of 1 meter from the crop.
Step 6: Better management practices of Cashew for increasing yield
Better management methods may increase profits slightly, but increasing Cashew production 3-4 times in a short period may be possible only through the “genetic transformation” of existing orchards of higher-yielding varieties. In addition, commercial orchards use grafting and other advanced tree management techniques to enhance further and maintain Cashew production.
Step 7: Top working technique for more yield
Top working methods have emerged as a revolutionary way to increase yield levels in poorly performing clones and plants in the 10- to 20-year-old age group. Top working involves cutting the heads of plants at the height of 0.5 m above ground level and then treating them with BHC by 50% wet powder and 50 grams of copper oxychloride mixed with a bit of water each.
Which helps protect them from possible infections, pathogens, and borer worms. In this method, trees thrive due to the well-established root system, and they start yielding about 4 kg per tree from the second year of rejuvenation, and the yield gradually increases.
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Step 8: Mulching increases Cashew growth and production
Cashews are usually planted on wastelands, so soil moisture availability is always low, so mulching is necessary. Mulching with black polythene is beneficial for increasing Cashew growth and production. However, locally available materials such as green or dry grass or hay can be used to mulch the basin. Also, small pebbles or stones can be used for mulching the basin. Plastic or stone mulch improves soil health and soil moisture and prevents soil-borne pests and insects from invading.
Step 9: Manuring and NPK for plant growth
Adequate N: P: K ratio must be maintained in the soil for better yield. It is recommended to apply about 10 to 15 kg of crop fertilizer per plant to ensure proper organic matter in the soil. The recommended fertilizers for the adult Cashew tree are 500 grams N (1.1 kg urea), 125 grams P2O5 (750 grams single superphosphate), and 125 grams K2O (200 grams Muriate Of Potash).
Step 10: Ultra density planting in Cashews
High-density planting in Cashews by 1100 to 1600 plants/hectare or more, farmers can maintain a productive canopy through pruning techniques to achieve initial benefits. As a result, higher yields were developed, standardized, and demonstrated in the field (> 500 hectares). As a result, cashew farming techniques have improved yields 3-4 times per unit area compared to conventional varieties.
With the help of this technique, targeted production can be achieved in less time, and dependence on raw materials from abroad can be reduced and become self-sufficient with raw Cashew nuts. Identified the precocious type of Cashew varieties like VRI-3, NRCC Sel-2, Ullal-1, and Ullal-3 for this purpose and popularized this technology in farmer’s fields. Also developed a Hybrid – H-130 variety for this which is the high yielding type with bold nut, precocious and suitable for high-density planting, and it is in the pipeline for release.
Step 11: Propagation for improving plant growth
Cashews are commercially propagated through softwood grafting, which is standard and commercially used for large-scale production of plant materials in the country. Plants grown from raw nuts should not be used as planting material as it greatly changes the growth and yield. Grafts are recommended for precocity, uniformity in quality, and higher productivity.
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Step 12: Cashew plant spacing for better growth
The typical spacing recommended for Cashews is 8-meters x 8-meters for poor soils and 10 meters x 10 meters for rich and deep soils and sandy coastal areas. On steep sloping lands, a distance of 10-15 meters can be maintained by keeping a distance of 6-8 meters between the trees in rows. High-density plants with an interval of 4 meters x 4 meters (625 plants per hectare) in the first ten years increase the yield 2.5 times. After the 11th year, replacement plants need to be thinned to avoid canopy overlapping.
Step 13: Intercropping for getting more profit
Pineapple is the most profitable intercrop in Cashew orchards in the early stages of development. It can be planted in open trenches on the slope between two rows of Cashews. A pair of pineapple suckers can be placed at a distance of 60 cm between rows in each trench and 40 cm between two suckers in a row. These trenches can be opened up to 1 meter between two rows of Cashews. Ginger, Lemongrass, and Tapioca are also suitable intercrops. Intercropping in Cashew orchards will provide higher profits during the early years.
Step 14: Training and pruning
All side shoots should be removed to a height of at least 2 meters from the ground so that branches form and spread from the top of the stem. In July, periodical pruning of deadwood and cross-branches is recommended to reduce the damage caused by diseases like dieback and increase the yield.
Step 15: Fruit drop in Cashew trees
Cashew fruit drop during the early stages of development is due to physical causes. The decrease in immature fruits is one of the primary reasons for the decline in Cashew productivity. The reduction in fruit drop due to external use of growth regulators can be attributed to the increase in endogenous auxins. It helps control the abscission layer formation in the abscission zone, thus reducing the fall of immature fruit and enhancing the nutrients for growing fruits. Cashew trees do not bloom in summer but in winter. Therefore, they also bear fruit in winter.
Step 16: Pests and diseases control will improve yield
The Cashew tree is usually free of insects if it is in good health. The significant insects that attack it are the tea mosquito, stem and root borer, leaf Miner, and blossom Webber. Monitor the crop regularly for signs of damage. It is necessary to constantly monitor and detect the infection early to control these pests.
Step 17: Weeding
Weed regularly around the base of the Cashew tree. Weeds can remove valuable moisture and nutrients from plants. Before planting, treat weed-ridden soil with a homemade weed killer. Mulching and growing strips between plant lines and mulching will discourage weed growth.
Step 18: Winter protection
Trees planted near buildings on the south or west side of the south or west slope will get some natural protection from frost. Applying a 2 to 3-inch layer of mulch on the tree’s base will provide some protection in winter. As organic mulches or fertilizers break down, the value of nutrients in the soil will increase. Remember to renew the layer regularly during the winter months. It will provide constant protection to your plant.
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Step 19: Maximum yielding varieties
More than 30 varieties of Cashew will be cultivated in different areas, and good yields will be achieved in practice. The average yield of all these varieties is 8 to 10 kg of Cashew per tree, i.e., one ton of nuts per hectare. Therefore, the yield per Cashew tree is estimated at 8 to 15 kg. However, the maximum yield of Vengurlar-3, Vengurla-4, and Vengurla-5 is 20.78 kg, 27.34 kg, and 31.26 kg, respectively.
Step 20: Harvesting time is more important for crop yield
Remember that the Cashew nuts are harvested from February – to May. Usually, harvesting consists of picking nuts that have dropped to the ground after maturing. Younger trees do not produce more Cashews, and the yield increases as the tree grow. Do not try to break the Cashew seeds immediately after harvesting, as the seeds contain toxic oil. This oil causes itchy skin and painful blisters in the mouth if ingested. Instead, the Cashew nuts should be dried for several days and then roasted before opening
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