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Marigold Cultivation : A new avenue for income generation

 Source: The Sangai Express / Konsam Samita

Imphal, August 04 2021: Marigold locally known as Sanarei, has been an one of the common flowers that is widely grown in Manipur and it is used for floral decorations, making garland and offerings to God particularly by the valley people.

The flower which was once grown at almost every household abundantly has however recently become a commodity sold at markets due to the ever decreasing cultivable area, thereby creating a new avenue for income generation.

Marigold is used aplenty in many festivals, especially diwali.

As it can be used in different ways and its demand has been on the rise, those who are ready to invest and undertake marigold cultivation can expect a flourishing venture in it.

This is what Prof Dr Usham Chaoba of Department of Horticulture, College of Agriculture under CAU Imphal, shared while speaking to The Sangai Express.

To undertake marigold cultivation successfully and earn a good profit from it, there are aspects and steps which need to be taken care of, Dr Chaoba said.

African Marigold and French Marigold are two main varieties suited for large scale plantation and are commercially valuable.

And of the two, African variety is most sought after and more productive, Dr Chaoba confided.

Seed of both the varieties should be imported and its purity should be carefully studied while procuring, he said.

The African marigold grows upto about 90 cms tall, while the French variety is around 30 cms tall, he said.

Cultivable sub varieties of the African type are Giant Double African Orange, Cracker Jack, Pusa Narangi Gainda (developed by IARI New Delhi), Pusa Basanti Gainda (developed by IARI New Delhi), Arka honey (developed by IIHR Bengaluru), Arka pari ( develop by IIHR Bengaluru) etc.

Among these, Giant Double African Orange is the most popular.

Dusty Red, Pusa Arpita (developed by IARI New Delhi), Star of India, Red Bokardo are commonly cultivated sub varieties of French Type, he said.

There are hybrids of African type (Bolero red F1 Hybrids, Safari Mix Fl Hybrids, Solar Red F1 Hybrids) cultivated widely apart from interspecific hybrid with the French variety.

From this cultivators can get the African type big flowers on the shorter French type plant and that too in a relatively shorter period, he said.

The most important characteristic feature of marigold plant is that it can be grown on a wide range of soil, but for commercial, purposes,-soil with more sand content is suitable.

The pH value of the soil suitable for marigold plantation ranges from 5.6 to 6.5 while ideal temperature ranges from 18 degree Celsius to 30 degree Celsius, he said.

Like rice cultivation, marigold cultivation involves a series of steps including seed sowing on nursery beds, transplantation of seedlings, use of fertilizer and pesticides, irrigation and proper harvesting.

For smaller scale plantation, sowing can be done on flower vase, seed box or seedling trays which should have drainage holes and be filled with potting mixture.

Seeds can also be directly sown into fine sandy soil or into coco peat soil which comes in packets.

"We can also prepare another sowing medium by taking one part garden soil (available at every household), one part humus and half of sandy soil or by taking 50 percent sandy soil, 30 percent garden soil and 20 percent vermicompost.

The soil mixture should be raised not less than 15 cm," he said.

Meanwhile, a large scale nursery bed is essentially required.

For cultivation over one hectare of land 1 and half kg of marigold seed, 10 nursery beds of the dimension lm x 3m raised within 15 cm to 20 cm will be necessary.

The nursery beds should be at least 30 cm apart, he said.

At the time of bed preparation, the soil should be finely tilth and be mixed with farm yard manure or FYM (10kg per square metre) and can be drenched with Captan (fungicide) 2g/litre of water using a watering can to check soil borne diseases.

Depth of drenching must be 8-10cm.Fenvalerate powder can be dusted on the outer side of the nursery bed to check removal of seeds by ants, he said.

For summer crop, sowing can be done in the first week of January while May - June is suited for the rainy season crop and mid-September for raising the winter crop.

In Manipur, seeds can be sown during May and June or mid September.

After sowing the seeds should be lightly covered with a sieved mixture of farmyard manure and soil.

A thin layer of straw mulch (5 cm) is provided after sowing and the bed should be watered twice or thrice a day.

Mulch should be removed after germination which takes 5-7 days after sowing, he advised.

The Nursery bed should be kept moist but overwatering should be avoided.

It takes about one month to grow the seedlings sufficiently large enough and are ready for transplanting to the main field or flower pots, he said.

Field Preparation
The Professor continued that the field where the actual cultivation is to take place should be at least ploughed three times to bring to a fine tilth before well decayed FYM (10 tonnes /hectare) is mixed.

Beds of convenient sizes (1.2m in width and 4m in length or convenient length) should be prepared with a gap of at least 30-40 cm prepared to facilitate operation, he said.

One month old seedlings should be then transplanted into the well manured and fertilized beds or at pots during evening time.

Space of 40 cm x 30 cm for African marigold and 20cm x20 cm for French marigold should be maintained in the beds, said the Professor who also added that attention should be given to protect the young transplanted seedlings from strong sun by providing shade (by tilting two banana sheaths) as well as by watering carefully using watering can in the initial one or two weeks to make sure that the young plants do not lack water.

On nutritional requirements, the Professor said that 272 Kg Urea, 625 kg Single Super Phosphate and 42 kg Muriate of Potash/ha) can be applied to the field as basal dose in addition to the FYM.

Another 272 kg of Urea and 42 kg of Muriate of Potash should be applied to as top dressing followed by watering.

Prof Dr Chaoba suggested that manual weeding, 3 to 4 times once a month during the growth period is necessary and earthing up can be done three weeks after the transplantation.

To ensure bushy growth and help develop lateral branches for more, yield, the terminal portion of the shoot should be removed/nipped (a process called pinching) after 40 days from transplantation, he said.

On irrigation, he said that constant moisture supply should be maintained at all the stages of vegetative growth and during flowering period.

During September to March a weekly irrigation can be given and from April to June irrigation can be given once in 5 days, he said while adding that there should be no stagnation of water in the soil.

The cultivation field should be well irrigated before harvesting so that flowers keep well for a longer period after plucking, he continued.

The French marigold starts flowering one to one and half months after transplanting while African Marigold takes two to two and half months from the date of transplanting, he said.

The marigold plants will continue to bear flowers for another two to two and half months from the date of first harvest, he said.

The flowers should be harvested when they have attained full size.

For garland, fully opened flowers (loose flowers) should be picked once in 3 days, while for vase decoration fully opened flowers with long stalks should be plucked, he added.

About yield, Dr Chaoba said that one can harvest 8 to 12 tonnes of French variety per hectare while the African variety can yield 12 to 18 tonnes per hectare.

Seed yield for African Marigold is 312-375kg/ha and it is 1000-1250kg/ha for French Marigold.

And since marigold is a cross pollinated crop, proper isolation distance of 1-1.5km should be given amongst varieties.

However, natural cross pollination amongst species is absent, he said.

He also named insects/pests which can hamper growth and productivity.

Some of the pests, its description and the remedies to control are as follows.

Red Spider Mite: These mites sometimes appear on plants near flowering time.

Plants give a dusty appearance.

It can be controlled by spraying Kelthane @2ml/litre of water is effective.

Pyromite (organic insecticide as well as miticide can be sprayed @ 2ml/litre of water.

Spraying with Omite @ 2ml/litre of water is also useful.

Hairy caterpillar and Leaf hoppers: They damage the leaves by feeding and rolling and wilting of leaflets.

They can be controlled by spraying Nuvan @ 1 ml/litre of water.

Green-mealikill (bioinsecticide)@ 5ml/litre of water can also be sprayed.

Mealy bug: Mealy bugs are present in groups in young shoots, stem and leaves.

It segregates honey like substances because of that leaves are converted into black sooty mould.

Apical parts of the shoots show retarded growth.

It is controlled by spraying Dimethoate @ 2ml/litre of water.

Pyromite (organic insecticide) can be also sprayed @2ml/litre of water.