Nutfruit Magazine

The official voice of the INC

26 November, 2021 Country Product Spotlight

Improved Cashew Varieties and Recommended Package of Practices

Improved Cashew Varieties and Recommended Package of Practices

The cashew (Anacardium occidentale L.) is well recognized as one of the major horticultural crops and major foreign exchange earning commodities in India. Today, cashew is being grown in 19 states of India and provides substantial employment to more than 1.5 million people.

By Dr. Venkatesh N. Hubballi, Director of the Directorate of Cashewnut and Cocoa Development

Dr. Hubballi joined the Directorate of Cashewnut and Cocoa Development in 1996 after serving in both private and public sector organizations engaged in horticulture development. He also served as Assistant Professor of Horticulture for four years in the University of Agricultural Sciences, Bangalore. Later in 2006 he was appointed as the Director of the Directorate. As head of the organization, he is responsible for formulating the developmental programs for cashew and cocoa in India and also serves as an adviser to the Ministry of Agriculture and Farmers Welfare, Government of India, in matters related to cashew and cocoa development in the country.

India requires a huge quantity of raw cashew nut (1.6 million metric tons) every year to meet the domestic processing sector. While the domestic production is around 800,000 MT, the rest is met by imports from other countries. The research efforts in the country resulted in the identification and development of several high-yielding varieties that are suitable for yield improvement programs. The beneficial effects of the most important agro techniques are used in these varieties to achieve targeted (3-4 folds) yield improvement.

Being a perennial tree, the development of new varieties in the past was based only on the selection of better types from available sources and late crop improvement programs through hybridization. Over 35 selections were made and recommended for cultivation. Crop improvement through hybridization to achieve desired types also resulted in delivering 10-15 hybrids by different cashew research stations of the country.

In general, these varieties can be grouped into three major categories viz., early season fruiting, mid season fruiting and late season fruiting types. Among very early type V-1, K-22-1 under small nut category, Ullal-4, NRCC Sel-2, BLA-39-4 and VRI-3 under medium nut category, and H-130 under very bold nut category are grouped. These varieties respond well to protective irrigation. The small nut types are always bunch bearing type, have more nuts per bunch and heavy yielders. A hybrid H-130 developed at the Directorate of Cashew Research (DCR) Puttur has bold nut, bunch bearing habit and heavy yielder. If correctly managed, all of the above-mentioned varieties have the potential to yield 1-2 MT per hectare.

Good land preparation and deep planting with more organic manures are recommended for better anchorage, faster growth and early yield. Canopy management needs to be initiated in the early years by training the graft by means of side sprout removal to a desired height. Annually pruning off the unwanted shoots, branches after completion of crop harvest will aid the plant to tap more solar energy and more peripheral surface area for flowering and fruiting. High and Ultra density planting systems with suitable recommended varieties, such as VRI-3, H-130, Ullla-1 and other pruning responsive and precocious varieties are needed to harness the early benefits. Intensive care and proper canopy management by pruning and plant protection measures are very essential in the system.

Manure and fertilizer application is a very important practice that must be performed on a regular basis. The dosage of fertilizer recommendation varies in different cashew growing regions. However, 750 g N, 250 g P2O5 and 225 g K20 is a general recommendation that can be followed. This can be followed in 2 3 months before flowering, and a single application is recommended. Foliar application of nitrogenous fertilizers or other nutrients including micronutrients during the fruiting stage also improves yield by 10 15%. Application of fertilizer through fertigation was found to be well suited in terms of fertilizer cost and labor input. The cashew varieties with mid-late and late-season varieties respond well while the early varieties do not require irrigation. The tea mosquito bug (TMB) is a serious pest of cashew. Pest management during flushing, flowering and fruiting is critical to saving the crop.

In India, more than 78% of the plantations are organically grown and under small and marginal land holdings. Only innovative farmers use inorganic fertilizers and adopt integrated pest management systems. Overall, the use of chemicals and fertilizers is kept to the bare minimum.
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