Amaranth (Amaranthus spp) is a very popular commercial & gardening crop with high nutritive value. It grows rapidly, has high yield per unit area of edible matter & crop can the harvested in 21 days, thus providing for repeated cultivations in lesser time.
SOWING & LAND PREPARATION AND SOIL
Since the size of the seeds are very small, it has to be mixed with sand & then broadcast. The ratio of sand to seed is generally 3:1 or 2:1 .
turning soil after broadcasting
Raised seed beds about 20 cm height are made and about a truck load of fresh decomposed farm yard manure is added & mixed thoroughly. Seeds are then mixed in the above mentioned ratio & broadcast. Immediately after sowing seeds, very light irrigation must be done.
raised seed beds
CLIMATE AND FERTILIZER APPLICATION
Amaranth responds very well in high temperatures. They are able to efficiently use CO2 and minimize photorespiratory loss. It’s a c4 plant. And photosynthesis takes place even at hot & humid temperatures. Hence it is widely cultivated in tropics & semi tropics.
when plant reaches 3 leaf stage
It responds well to fertilizer application in the form of foliar sprays. Organic manure solutions available in the market must be sprayed @ 1 ml per litre, when the seedlings are at 2 leaf stage. Complex NPK fertilizers can also be sprayed @ 3 grams in 10 litre water.
Amaranth grown for commercial seed production require more fertilizers & that will will be mentioned in another post.
FUNGAL AND PEST MANAGEMENT.
Since the plant produces tender succulent leaves, it is subject to high incidence of pests. Hairy caterpillars feed on the leaves & skeletonise the plant. This can be treated using dichlorvos @ 2 ml per litre.
aphids & scale insects, suck the plant sap & reduce marketability. Dimethoate @ 1 ml per litre is recommended.
fungal attack, white spots on leaf surface which spreads to entire plant
The main problem is the fungal attack on amaranth. White spots appear in the surface of the leaves & make the plant look old & diseased & thus completely reduce marketability. It happens generally if the seeds used for sowing were already contaminated with the disease, or it could be soil borne. Albigo candida is responsible for this. There is no specified treatment, but it can be prevented by treating the seeds & soil with anti fungal agents. Also timely harvesting the crop reduced the chances of white spots appearing as it mostly occurs when the plants are older.
The most beneficial aspect of amaranth cultivation is that it can be harvested in 21 days. It is also less laborious and requires much less farm inputs due to this & is very economic from the cultivation point of view.ready for harvesting in 21 days
When the plant attains a height of around 15 to 20 cm, it has to be harvested. The height is generally attained 21 to 25 days after sowing.
making bundles for sale
Harvesting must be done early morning or late evenings. If harvesting is done when the temperature is highm during day time, it will appear withered & wilted.
Since the entire plant is edible it is uprooted as a whole at the time of harvesting. around 10 to 15 plants are then tied together to make a bundle. The entire bundle is then washed in running water & is ready for marketing.
Photos and content by Pritham 'Heavy metal farmer' denzil dsouza