Ashwagandha Farming – Introduction
Ashwagandha is also known by the names winter cherry, Indian ginseng, and poison gooseberry. The plant belongs to the nightshade family. It is generally used as a medicinal herb in the Ayurveda branch of medicine.
The shrub usually grows up to 35-75 cm in length. The leaves of the plant have a smaller size and are elliptical in shape. The plant bears bell-shaped flowers which are green in colour. The fruits have an orange-red colour. The root of Ashwagandha has a strong smell. The word means sleep-inducing in the Latin language. The shrub is commonly cultivated in dry regions. the plant is very much prone to many diseases and pests. The fruits of ashwagandha are used in cheese making. The roots of the plant are used in the traditional medicine. The leaves and dried and then ground to make powder. The dried leaf powder is then made to a paste and can be used for curing burns and wounds. Ashwagandha has many health benefits. That is the reason it is used extensively in traditional medicine. The cultivation of ashwagandha must be done carefully. Since it is mostly used as a traditional herb, the proper cultivation techniques must be used.
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Scientific Name of Ashwagandha: Withania somnifera
Top Places in the Production of Ashwagandha
The Ashwagandha plant grows naturally in India, Africa, and America. In India, ashwagandha is grown in Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Punjab, Gujarat, Haryana etc. The ashwagandha plants which are grown in Madhya Pradesh are popular all over the world.
Name of Ashwagandha in Other Languages
telugu – penneru.
hindi – ashgandh.
bengali – dhuppa.
arabic – hajarat el dib.
modern arabic – marjan.
arabic ( yemen ) – ubad.
persian – meheman.
urdu – asgandanagaori.
tamil – amukkara.
malayalam – amukkuram.
kannada – keramaddinagaddi.
marathi – askandha.
gujrati – asod.
english – indian ginseng.
sanskrit – ashwagandha.
other common names – achuva gandhi.
canarese – amangura.
assyrian – harhumbashir.
syrian – sekran.
latin – physalis flexousa.
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Different Varieties of Ashwagandha Farming
- Raj Vijay ashwagandha- 100- this is a high yielding variety of ashwagandha. The yield of this variety is about 6-7 quintals per hectare.
- Jawahar asgand 20- the yield of dry root from this variety of ashwagandha is about 5-6 quintals per hectare.
- Jawahar asgand 134- the variety of ashwagandha yields about 6-8 quintals of dry root per hectare.
There are not a lot many varieties of ashwagandha. Some high yielding varieties are cultivated in some regions. They can be cultivated for better yields. The proper cultivation techniques must be employed for a successful farming.
Cultivation of Ashwagandha
The cultivation of ashwagandha must be done carefully. Proper cultivation techniques must be followed so that a good yield can be obtained. There is a good demand for the good quality herbs. A proper site must be selected for its cultivation. After that, watering and proper nutrition must be provided. The high yielding varieties must be cultivated as they can give a high-quality harvest. The quality and quantity of the herb will be good in case of the high yielding varieties.
Land Preparation For The Ashwagandha Farming
The land must be selected properly for the cultivation of ashwagandha. After that, the weeds and all other waste matters must be removed from the field. After that, proper ploughing must be done. Ploughing can be done by tractor or bullock carts. Ploughing must be done to make the soil smooth and suitable for cultivation. After ploughing, proper quantities of farmyard manure must be put in the soil. The ploughing must be followed by harrowing and tilling. Drainage channels must be made in the field. The drainage channels are needed when there is excess water in the field.
Soil Conditions For The Ashwagandha Farming
The ashwagandha is usually cultivated in sandy loam or red soils. They can also be cultivated in black soil. The ideal ph for the cultivation of ashwagandha is 7.5-8. The soil must be well drained. The soil also must be free of any pesticides or contaminants. Since the herb is to be cultivated for medicinal or related purposes, the good soil must be used. The organic content of the soil must be high and it must have good drainage. The soil must not be too deep or too light. The soil must have a good water holding capacity. it is necessary so that the soil remains moist and the plants get sufficient moisture.
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Climatic Conditions For Ashwagandha Farming
The ashwagandha requires a dry climate to grow. Therefore, the plant can tolerate dry conditions and drought also. But, for better yield, the crop must not be exposed to extreme conditions. It can be grown at an altitude of 600-1200 m above sea level. An average rainfall of 60-75cm is essential for the cultivation of ashwagandha. The ideal temperature for the cultivation is 20-35 degree Celsius. Extreme temperature is harmful to the cultivation of ashwagandha. But, the rain in the late winter is considered suitable for its cultivation. The semi-tropical areas are most suitable for its cultivation. The plants also must be protected from extreme cold or frost conditions. A pleasant and sunny weather with the proper amount of sunshine must be provided. Such conditions are suitable for growing ashwagandha plants.
Propagation Methods For Ashwagandha Farming
The ashwagandha is generally propagated by seeds. This is because there is no dormancy period in the ashwagandha seeds.The seeds must be harvested from plants from the previous season’s harvest. The seeds should be free from diseases and pests. It is better if the seeds are selected from a certified seed company. The seeds must be soaked in water before sowing them.
Planting Methods For Ashwagandha Farming
The seeds can be sown directly into the field. They can be sown in the field by the broadcasting method. They can also be transplanted from the main field. In the nursery, the seedlings are grown under the right conditions. When they have developed proper roots, they can be transplanted to the main field. for transplanting, pits must be dug in the main field beforehand. The pits must be dug previously and exposed to the sunlight for a few days. After that, it must be filled with topsoil mixed with farmyard manure. The ashwagandha seeds must not be planted too deep in the soil. The seeds must be planted so that they can receive the sunlight. They must be sown 18-24 inches apart in the field. After planting, watering must be done to the crop. For direct sowing, ridges and furrows must be made in the field. After sowing, a little irrigation must be done. The plants must be planted in the crop so that they receive full sunshine.
Sowing Season And Seed Rate For Ashwagandha Farming
The seeds must be sown at the onset of rainy season. Around 2- 5 kg of seeds are required for sowing an acre of land.
Irrigation For The Ashwagandha Farming
Over-irrigation might be harmful to ashwagandha cultivation. Therefore, irrigation must only be provided only when it is required. Generally, ashwagandha is sown as a rainfed crop. So, irrigation is hardly required. In case of excess water, it must be drained out of the field. For saving water, mulching can be done. Wheat mulches or ashwagandha mulches from the previous crop can be used for mulching. Mulching helps the soil to conserve its moisture. Therefore, the crop remains healthy and has proper growth. In general, irrigation can be provided after every 15 days. In summer, the proper irrigation must be provided. The first irrigation must be provided right after sowing and transplanting. Irrigation must also be provided after application of fertilisers and manures.
Fertiliser And Manure Application For Ashwagandha Farming
The well rotten farmyard manure must be put in the soil at the time of land preparation. After that, a soil test must be done. Based on the soil test, the fertilizers must be used. Use of too many fertilizers is not good for the soil. it will damage the soil. After soil test, proper amounts of nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium must be applied to the soil. Organic manures must also be put to the soil. the amount of nutrition may vary for every stage of the plant growth. to prevent micronutrient deficiency, proper micronutrients must also be put in the soil. After application of fertilizers, irrigation must be provided.
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Intercultural Operations For Ashwagandha Farming
The intercultural operations in the cultivation of ashwagandha include training and pruning of the herbs. The removal of the weeds is another important operation in the ashwagandha cultivation. The weeds must be removed from the crop at the earliest. The weeds must be removed at the earliest so that it does not compete with the main crop for nutrients and food. The weeds can be removed from the crop by pesticides or any other methods. Cultural methods or natural methods can be used for removal of the weeds. A combination of all the methods can also be used for the removal of weeds. The thinning must be done 25-30 days after sowing. Thinning is an important activity as well because it helps to reduce the unhealthy plants. Only the healthy and suitable plants remain in the field and their growth is also better. While doing hand weeding, it should be taken care so that the weeds are not damaged by hoe. Since the ashwagandha is a medicinal crop, the use of herbicides must be restricted. Mulching is a good option for controlling the weeds. The mulching will control the growth of the weeds.
Pest And Disease Control Methods For Ashwagandha Farming
The most common diseases and pests which affect the ashwagandha crop are as follows:
- Insects- nuvan or rogor spray
- Aphids and mites- malathion and kelthane spray
- Seedling rock- application of carbofuran
- Blight- neem cake or carbofuran application
The neem cake is an effective and natural way to get rid of many insects and nematodes. Besides that, crop rotation also helps to protect the crop from many diseases and pests. A combination of the chemical and organic methods can be used for the cultivation of ashwagandha.
Yield Of Ashwagandha
From one hectare of land, about 300-500 kgs of dry roots can be obtained. The yield of seeds from a hectare of land is about 50-75 kgs. There have also been reports of higher yields from ashwagandha crop. So, the yield also depends on the variety used and the crop management.
When the crop starts to dry out and the berries start to take a yellow-red color, it is time to harvest the ashwagandha. The flowering process and bearing of fruits take place in December. The crop is ready for harvest in about 150-180 days after sowing. The roots are pulled out by digging out slowly. The soil must be moist while harvesting. The roots must be pulled out carefully while digging.
Post-Harvest Management And Marketing Of Ashwagandha
After harvest, the roots must be washed properly to remove the dirt. After that, they are cut into small pieces, about 7-10 cm long and then dried under the sun. They should be dried till the moisture content is 10-12 percent in the roots. After that, they are graded based on their quality. They must be stored in containers and then sold in the market.
Benefits Of Ashwagandha
- Ashwagandha helps to reduce stress and anxiety. People who have such disorders might find relief from the herb.
- The ashwagandha has properties which can prevent and treat depression. It is said to reduce the depression level of any patient.
- The ashwagandha has anti-inflammatory properties. It can reduce inflammation.
- Cholesterol patients can benefit from Ashwagandha. The herb is said to reduce cholesterol levels and keeps the cholesterol level at proper levels.
- The ashwagandha has oxidative properties. It might help to improve memory functions.
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Ashwagandha Farming – Conclusion
Ashwagandha is popular since the ancient times. But, due to its many qualities, it has become more popular all over the world in recent times. Therefore the cultivation must be done properly so that a good price can be fetched.