Amaranth Farming – Introduction
The amaranth is a very common plant which grows in the wild. However, the plant is also used for commercial cultivation in many places. The leaves and grain of amaranth are used for human use. Apart from that, the plant is also used for the ornamental purpose. This is because of the beautiful flowers of the amaranth plant. The amaranth flowers can have many different colors.
It has been cultivated since the ancient times for its grains. The amaranth grains are very nutritious and rich in many nutrients. The main reason why people consume the grain is that it is gluten-free. People who do not consume gluten prefer amaranth grains. This is the reason why it is high in demand. Not only is that, the amaranth grains also are eaten as a snack. It is used for preparing many dishes. To get a good profit from amaranth cultivation, modern methods must be applied. The cultivation techniques used must be up to date so that the yield and quality are good. If the products can be exported, more profit can be gained. The proper cultivation techniques must be used.
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Scientific Name of Amaranth: Amaranthus tricolour
Top Countries Producing Amaranth
The main consumer and producer of amaranth are Africa. It is a common food in the country. Apart from Africa, it is grown in other countries as well. It is grown in Malaysia, Vietnam, China, Indonesia, India, Brazil, Greece etc.
Common Name Of Amaranth In Other Languages
- China- in-tsai, xian cai, een choy
- Japan- hiyuna
- India- chaulai
- Indonesia- bayam
- Malaysia- bayam
- Laos- pak hom
- Philippines- kulitis
- Sri lanka- thampala
- Thailand- pak khom suan, pak khom hat
- Vietnam- yan yang
- Bolivia- millmi and coimi
- Ecuador- alaco, sangoracha
Different Varieties Of Amaranth
The most common varieties of amaranth which are popularly cultivated across the world are:
- Co 1
- Co 2
- Co 3
- Co 4
- Co 5
Apart from these, there are other varieties such as black seeded amaranth. It is mainly cultivated for the greens. The red leaved amaranth is used for its greens too. For grains, the lighter colored seed varieties are cultivated.
Cultivation Of Amaranth
The amaranth is a good crop to cultivate. It has a very good response to the fertilizers. For a high yield, the proper variety must be selected. There are not many high yielding varieties of amaranth. But, the cultivation must be done properly. Proper crop management can make sure that good quality products are achieved and the yield is good. Also, proper nutrition and watering are also important to get a good yield. Selection of field and management of diseases is an important step. The amaranth crop does well in a good soil.
Soil Conditions For Amaranth Farming
The amaranth is a hardy plant. It can be grown in almost any kind of soil. But, to get the best yield, the good quality soil must be used. Soil with higher temperatures is preferred for growing the amaranth plants. The plants can resist little frost and drought conditions. But, only the older plants can tolerate such conditions.
The younger plants must not be exposed to such conditions. Since the plants are well-adapted to the dry and humid soil, such soil must be used. Soil with too much moisture holding capacity must be avoided. The ph of the soil must be balanced. It should not be too high or too low. Too deep or too light soils must be avoided. The texture of the soil is important to decide if the plant will grow well or not. The soil must be rich in organic nutrients. The good quality soil is important for a good crop. Also, saline soils must not be used for cultivation.
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Climatic Conditions For Amaranth Farming
The amaranth is best cultivated in warmer climates. The plants need a warm and sunny weather. A dry weather is needed for the growth of the amaranth plants. Though the mature plants can tolerate frost conditions, such conditions must be avoided. Due to such conditions, the yield might be affected. A moderate rainfall is good for the cultivation of amaranth. Extreme weather conditions for amaranth cultivation must be avoided. Too high or too low altitudes must be avoided for amaranth cultivation.
Land Preparation For Amaranth Farming
The land must be selected after deciding the site for amaranth cultivation. After that, all the weeds and grasses must be cleared. The land must be made suitable for cultivation. After that, ploughing must be done. The proper ploughing must be done so that the soil achieves a fine and smooth texture. Ploughing must be done as many times as needed. After that, it must be followed by harrowing and leveling. After the soil is prepared, proper quantities of farmyard manure must be put in the soil. To drain away the excess water, the drainage channels must be made in the field. the land preparation is an important step for the cultivation of amaranth.
Propagation Methods For Amaranth Farming
The amaranth is usually propagated through seeds. For a good crop, the seeds must be selected properly. It is better if the seeds are bought from a reliable source. The healthy and disease free seeds must be selected. The seeds must be soaked in water before sowing them. The pretreatment of seeds with bio fertilizers must be done before sowing them.
Planting Methods For Amaranth Farming
The seeds can be sown directly into the soil. The amaranth seedlings can also be transplanted to the main field from the nursery. During transplantation, the plants must be placed in the same depth as in the nursery. The plants must be watered immediately after transplantation. In the nursery, the plants must be taken care of properly. For direct sowing, any method for sowing can be applied. Any implement for the sowing of the seed can be used. The seeds must be sown 1-5 cm deep inside the soil. after sowing, the irrigation must be given. The soil preparation must be very good. This is because the amaranth seeds are very small.
Sowing Season And Planting Density Of Amaranth Seeds
May- June is the usual time for sowing of the amaranth seeds. There should be a proper planting density which must be maintained in the amaranth field. On an average, about 350-400 plants must be planted per hectare of land. The planting density is maintained so that the plants can grow properly.
Irrigation Methods For Amaranth Farming
The first irrigation must be provided at the time of sowing of seeds. After that, irrigation must be provided accordingly. The amaranth prefers dry and humid soil. so, there is no need for providing excessive irrigation. Only when the plant becomes dry or there is excess dry weather, the irrigation may be provided. In the rainy season, extra care must be taken. There must not be any waterlogging. There is no need for irrigation. But, the extra water must be drained out of the field. For that, proper drainage channels must be present in the field. To save water, appropriate irrigation methods may be applied. In winter, less irrigation is required. For irrigating the crop, saline water must not be used.
Manure And Fertiliser Application For Amaranth Farming
The farmyard manure must be applied at the time of land preparation. After that, a soil test must be done. The soil test decides the number of nutrients needed by the crop. Based on the soil test, rest of the nutrients must be given. Proper quantities of nitrogen, potassium, and phosphorus must be given in the amaranth crop. Those can also be given in split doses. Excessive fertilizers must not be given. This makes the soil barren and dry. It is also harmful to the crop. The amaranth crop responds very well to the application of fertilizers. Along with that, micronutrients must also be applied. The micronutrients must be applied so that there is no deficiency. After every time fertilizers are applied, irrigation must be given. Along with that, organic manure and fertilizers must also be provided to the amaranth crop.
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Intercultural Operations For Amaranth Farming
The weeds must not be allowed to grow in the amaranth field. They must be controlled in the early phase. Manual methods may be applied for controlling the weeds. Chemicals also may be applied in the control of weeds. A combination of different methods for weed control may become very effective for weed control. Harrowing also reduces the emergence of weeds. Raking of the soil must be done occasionally. Raking helps the soil to absorb more nutrients. Sometimes, natural methods may also be successful in the control of weeds.
The amaranth crop can be rotated with potatoes and other small grains. There are also wild varieties of amaranth which might pose a threat to the amaranth cultivation. They must be removed immediately.
Pests And Disease Control Methods For Amaranth Farming
The most common diseases and pests affecting the amaranth cultivation are:
- Damping off
- Stem canker
- Flea beetles
- Leaf spot
Most of the diseases can be controlled by spraying of appropriate chemicals and pesticides. These diseases can be avoided if the crop management is done properly. Proper seed treatment and using good varieties might prove to be helpful in the control of many diseases.
Yield Of Amaranth
The yield of amaranth is in the form of grains and greens. The average yield of grains is 2-3 tonnes per hectare of land. The yield of greens can be about 8 tonnes.
The amaranth cultivation can yield the greens and the grains. The seeds must be harvested when they easily fall off. It means they are mature for harvest. The seeds must be collected properly so that there is no loss of yield. The seed harvest must be done on a dry day. Care must be taken so that there is no shattering of grains. It might lead to loss of crop.
For the greens, they must be cut from the plant. The fresh greens must be collected from the plants. Healthy and disease free leaves and greens must be harvested.
Post-Harvest Management And Marketing Of Amaranth
After collecting the harvest, it must be dried properly under the sun. The greens must be sold fresh in the market. The seeds must be stored in airtight containers once harvested. the seeds can be sold loose or packed in separate packets to be sold in the market. The greens must be packed properly so that they are not damaged. The grains must be stored at proper temperature and humidity to avoid attack by pests and another microorganism.
Benefits Of Amaranth
- Amaranth is rich in proteins. The proteins help to build the muscles and also help in the wear and tear of tissues.
- The amaranth has loads of calcium in it. Calcium is important for maintaining good health of the bones and keeping them strong.
- The fiber in the amaranth helps in the digestion. It removes the toxins out of the system and keeps it clean.
- Since amaranth is gluten-free, people who are tolerant to gluten can consume it safely.
- Amaranth has compounds and properties which might help to control diabetes. It can help to prevent the disease.
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Amaranth Farming – Conclusion
The amaranth has become an important crop over the years. It is mainly cultivated for its grains all over the world. The leaves and greens are also very important in the vegetable market. Besides, the plants are also grown for ornamental purposes. It is because of the beautiful flowers which the plants bear. If the cultivation is done properly, the profits can be good too. The export of the amaranth harvest can also give high profits. For the proper cultivation, modern tools and techniques must be used. Proper cultivation of amaranth will also increase the demand in the local and the international market. The main problem of amaranth is marketing. But, it is slowly gaining popularity. It can be increased by the modernization of cultivation techniques.