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Withania somnifera in profile
Due to the demand for Ashwagandha roots in recent times and considering the future demand, there exists much scope for extensive cultivation of this crop.
Withania somnifera is cultivated in sandy loam or light red soils having a PH of 7.5 to 8.0 with good drainage. It is a late rainy season crop. It requires relatively dry seasons, and the roots are fully developed when 1-2 late winter rains are received. The areas receiving 65-75 cm rainfall are best suited for its cultivation.
Withania somnifera is mainly grown on residual fertility and hence no manure or fertilizers are recommended.
Direct sowing: Seeds can be sown directly in the field by broadcasting since it is largely grown as a rainfed crop, sowing is determined by the monsoon. After receiving pre monsoon rainfall, soil is brought to fine tilth and the crop is sown during the second week of July. A seed rate of 10-12 kg per hectare is sufficient when the crop is raised by this method.
Transplanting: About 5 kg of seeds is required to provide seedlings for an area of one hectare. The seeds are sown in the nursery just before the onset of the rainy season. The seeds are lightly covered with soil and germinate in about 6-7 days after sowing. When the seedlings are about 6 weeks old they are transplanted in the field in 60 cms wide furrows 60 cm apart.
In the directly sown crop, the plants are thinned at 25-30 days after sowing to maintain a plant propulation of 20,000-25,000/ha. Hand weeding at 25-30 days interval helps to control the weeds effectively.
Harvesting starts from January and continues till March (150-170 days after sowing). The maturity of the crop is judged by the drying of leaves and red berries. The entire plant is uprooted for roots which are separated from the aerial parts by cutting the stem 1 - 2 cm above the crown.
The roots are cut into small pieces of 7 - 10 cm to facilitate drying. The berries plucked from dried plants are threshed to obtain the seeds for the next crop. An average yield of about 400 - 500 kg of roots and 50 kg of seeds are obtained from one hectare.
Seed count: roughly 600 seeds in 1 Gram.
Withania somnifera is included in the following
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