Horticulture :: FAQs :: Spices & Plantations



1. I am growing curry leaf and at present that plant height is more than 2 m but the yield is very low. Is there any important operation for boosting up the yield of crop?
After attaining one meter height, the terminal bud is cut off to encourage basal branching. A total of 5 – 6 branches have to be maintained for good yield in curry leaf.

2. My land holdings are in lower pulneys hills and I would like to grow pepper. In that condition what kind of varieties can i select for commercial planting?
Panniyur 1. This performs better in less shady and lower elevation areas.

3. What is the variety suitable for growing in areca nut plantations?
Panniyur 5 is suitable

4. What kind of standards or supports can I select for cultivating pepper on commercial scale?
Silver oak and Dadap can be selected

5. Is there any specialized technique for increasing the berry size in pepper?
Spray NAA @ 40 ppm to increase the berry size.

6. When I sow the fresh cardamom seeds it shows poor germination percentage. Suggest some alternative methods to boost up the germination.
Treat the seeds with Sulphuric acid / Hydrochloric acid for 20 minutes. Sowing the seeds in beds after washing with water will increase the percentage of germination. 

7. In my cardamom estate I can notice streaks of yellow to pale green patches on the leaves. How to control that?
This is mainly due to Katte disease. This disease is mainly transmitted by banana aphid which can be controlled by regular spraying of Methyl Dematon 25 EC or Phosphomidon 750 ml/ha.

8. Poor fruit set was observed in my cardamom estate. Suggest some ways to increase the fruit/capsule set.
For one hectare, keep 7 – 10 bee hives to increase the pollination and fruit set.

9. What is the ideal stage of harvesting in clove?
The flower buds should be harvested when they are fully mature but before opening.

10. I want to go for commercial cultivation of nutmeg. What kind of planting materials can I select for that?
Select grafted nutmeg plants for planting. If you are going for seedling materials the yield will be commenced 6 -7 years after planting. Moreover it is dioecious in nature there may be chance of occurrence of male trees. Hence select suitable graft materials for commercial planting.

11. Most of my nutmeg plants are male plants and female plants are poor yielder. Is there any alternative method to convert all the plants into female plants and good yielder?
Top working is recommended by selecting high yielding female scion materials. By adopting this technique all the male plants can be converted to female plants.

12. Suggest some ways for getting higher yield in Cinnamon.
Young trees are cut close to the ground to produce side shoots. By heaping the soil around the stumps, more side shoots are produced from the base of the trees. This side shoots produce higher yield in cinnamon.

13. During the time of harvesting lot of leafy materials are dumped as waste. Can I make use those leaves in a profitable way?
The leaves are removed or stripped off from the stem and can be used for the extraction of cinnamon oil by steam distillation.

14. The harvested garlic from my field shows rubbery appearance. Is there any control measure for that?
Avoid excessive application of N to minimise rubberisation. N should not be applied in the form of Urea.  Use Ammonium sulphate. Spray 1500 ppm of CCC or MH on 30th day of planting.  Reduce the frequency of irrigation to minimise rubberisation. Apply 0.2 % Boron 0.1 % Sodium molybdate on 30th, 60th and 90th days after planting.

15. I am sending my processed turmeric to a factory where they are extracting curcumin on a large scale. Suggest one variety with high curcumin content.
Allepy Finger Turmeric (AFT)

16. At the time of harvest most of the turmeric rhizomes become rotted resulting in fragile powdery mass of rhizome. How to control that?
i. The seed rhizomes are dipped in Carbendazim 1 g/lit and Phosalone 35 EC 2ml/lit or Monocrotophos 1.5ml/lit for controlling rhizome rot.
ii. Drench with Bordeaux mixture 1 % or 0.25 % of Copper oxychloride.
iii. Treat the rhizomes with 0.3 % copper oxy chloride for 30 minutes before storage.

17. How can I store the seed rhizome after the harvest?
The seed rhizomes are stored after heaping under shade of tree or in well ventilated shade and covered with turmeric leaves. Some times the heap is plastered with earth mixed cow dung. It can also be stored in pits with sawdust. The pits can be covered with wooden planks with one or two holes for aeration.

18. Suggest some best intercrops for turmeric cultivation.
Onion, Coriander and Fenugreek

19. What are the ideal standards suitable for vanilla cultivation?
Glyricidia, Erythrina indica, Jatropha curcus, Plumeria alba, Casuarina equisitifolia and as multitier crop in coconut plantations.

20. Whether the artificial pollination is needed in vanilla cultivation? If so mention the method of pollination?
Yes. Artificial pollination is needed for getting higher yield. The artificial pollination is useful in vanilla and pollination must be done on the same day as flowers opening from 4.00 am to 1.00 pm.  About to 10 to 20 inflorescence may be pollinated in a vine.   Normally 5 to 6 flowers in the lower side of inflorescence pollinated. Hand pollination using a needle or a piece of pointed wood or a tooth pick to lift the hood covering the anther cap. The standards are brought it in to contact with stigma.  A skilled worker can pollinate 1000 – 1500 flowers in a day.

21. What is the ideal stage of harvesting in vanilla?
The pods are ready for harvest 6 to 9 months after planting. The matured beans change colour from green to pale yellow. The right picking stage is when the distal end of the pods turns yellow.

22. How long I can maintain the vines? Or what is the economic life of vanilla vines?
It can be maintained economically upto 12 – 14 years.


23. How many leaves should I harvest for the production of good quality tea?
Two leaf and a bud

24. What is the harvesting interval for plucking?
During rush period, the harvesting interval is 7 – 10 days and during lean period at 10 – 15 days intervals.

25. Most of the leaves in my tea plantations show blister appearance or punctured leaves. Why and what is the remedy?
This is mainly due to blister blight of tea. This can be controlled by
i. Spray 210 g Copper oxychloride and Nickel chloride per ha at 5 days interval from June - September; 11 days intervals in October and November.
ii. Hexagonazole 200 ml + Copper oxychloride 210 g 5 days interval/ha.
iii. Copper oxychloride 210 g + 200 ml Propiconazole / ha 10 days interval.
iv. Spray Contaf 85 g / Tilt 80 g + 85 g COC at 7 days interval starting from the onset of monsoon

26. Name some shade trees suitable for planting in coffee estates?
Dadap and Silver oak are best suited

27. During summer dadap trees shows scorching symptom? How to control / overcome that?
During summer the stem of dadap are painted with dilute lime or wrapped in agave leaves or polythene sheets to prevent from sun scorching.

28. For the past two years I could not get any proper blossom showers during March – April. Is there any alternative method for producing the blossom showers?
Sprinkler irrigation during March – April is the ideal alternative system for blossom showers. After doing this operation uniform coffee flowering will be notices in the estates.

29. What is the ideal stage for tapping the rubber?
Trees attain tappable stage in about 7 years. First tapping in seedling trees will commence when the trunk attains a girth of 55 cm at 50 cm height from the ground. In budded trees the girth should be 50 cm at 125 cm height from the bud union.

30. Is there any method to increase the latex flow in rubber?
Ethrel is recommended to increase latex yield of trees tapped on panel D.  It is applied at 5% a.i. concentration with a brush below the tapping cut to a width of 5 cm after light scraping of the outer bark. The first application may be done after a drought period preferably after a few pre-monsoon showers and subsequent applications may be done in September and November. However, continuous application of Ethrel is not recommended for periods of more than 3 years at a stretch.

31. During the onset of monsoon the rubber trees in the estates shows abnormal leaf fall.  Why and how to control that?
This is mainly due to abnormal leaf disease. This can be controlled by
i. Prophylactic spraying of the foliage prior to the onset of South-West monsoon with, Bordeaux mixture 1% at 4000 - 5000 lit/ha using high volume sprayers.
ii. Oil based Copper oxychloride dispersed in diluent spray oil employing either low volume air blast sprayers (Micron 420 or Minimicron 77 or Shaw Duster Sprayer) from the ground or through aerial application.
iii. For micron spraying on the tree spread, foliage intensity, planting material used and age of plants, two rounds of spray using about 17 to 22 lit of fungicide oil mixture per ha per round (1:6 proportion) with gap of 10 to 15 days or a single round of spray with about 30 - 37 lit of fungicide oil mixture per ha (1:5 proportion) may be necessary.

32. How long can I economically tapp / extract the rubber?
Up to 12 -14 years of planting, after that trees are removed and can be used as timber.

33. Can I use the cashew seedlings for commercial planting?
No. Graft materials are used for commercial planting.

34. What kind of intercrops can I select for cashew orchards?
Ground nut or pulses or minor millets can be grown.

35. Many cashew plantations are more than 15 years old and the yield of cashew nut is very low. Is there any alternative method to boost up the yield in cashew?
Top working is the ideal method to rejuvenate the senile cashew plantations. In this the main trunk is headed / cut back to the length of 1 m height from the ground level. The new shoots emerging from the shoots are used for epicotyl grafting. The scion materials collected from good yielding plants are grafted by means of epicotyl grafting method. The newly grafted materials develop canopy within 1 – 2 years of planting and starts yielding from 3rd onwards. This method can also be practiced for poor yielding plants.

36. I am residing in Ramnad district and I am having poor source of water. Whether it is possible to grow arecanut?
No. it is sensitive to moisture deficit and should be grown where adequate water facilities are available.

37. What are the selection criteria for arecanut seedlings?
Arecanut seeds should be collected from pre-marked, potent mother plant with outstanding performance are selected for propagation. Seedlings of 1 – 2 years old, dwarf and compact seedlings with more number of leaves should be selected for planting.

38. From my arecanut plantations, a lot of leaf sheaths are dumped as waste materials. As a scientist suggest some of the ways for economical use of such leafy wastes.
i. The leaf sheaths can be employed in the preparation of food plates or cups and can be sold in the market.
ii. Another part is that waste leaf materials are chopped into pieces and used for compost preparations employing earth worms. This adds as a additional support or reduce the cost of organic manures requirement of plantation and the excess can be sold in t he market.

39. Suggest some ideal locations for growing cocoa.
Cocoa can be grown as intercrop in coconut and areca nut plantations.

40. I am having farm holding near to seashore. Whether it is possible to grow betel vine?
No. It cannot / does not tolerate saline and alkaline condition. Hence planting of betel vine is not recommended for sea shore areas.

41. What kind of support materials can be used for betel vine cultivation?
Before the establishment of vines the side branches of Agathi trees upto a height of 2 m are removed for early creeping of the vines.

42. Most of my coconut plantations sheds more number of buttons and produce smaller grade nuts. Why and how it can be corrected?
This is mainly due to micronutrient deficiency and can be corrected by root feeding of coconut tonic.

43. One of my coconut trees shows triangular cut leaves. Why it happens/ occurs like that?
This is mainly due to Rhinocerous beetle infestation. This can be controlled by applying a hand full of sand to the growing tip. Keep coconut toddy mixed with Methyl dematon or Monocrotophos 2 ml/lit during the night time to trap the adult beetles. Manure pits near to the coconut plantations must be avoided. If it is so, mix or frequently turn the manures to collect the grubs of Rhinoccerous beetles and destroy them to control the insect population.

44. Suggest some coconut varieties suited for rainfed conditions.
VPM 3 and ALR (CN) 1 are suited for rainfed conditions.

45. Is there ant alternative ways to conserve the moisture in coconut plantations?
Mulching the coconut trees with coconut husks/ coir pith and burial of coconut husk or coir pith near the tree basins retains more soil moisture.

46. I want to practice multitier cropping in coconut plantations. Suggest me some useful and economical crops for that.
Coconut + banana + sirukizhangu + bhendi is suitable system for the eastern region. Crops like banana, pepper, cocoa, nutmeg, vanilla can be tried under multiple cropping system in suitable areas in the western region. In all the systems, apply recommended quantity of water and manures and fertilizers to the intercrops separately.

47. What are the useful and economical intercrops suited for planting in coconut plantations.
(i) Annuals: Groundnut, bhendi, turmeric, tapioca, sweet potato,    
sirukizhangu, elephant foot yam, ginger, pineapple
(ii) Biennials: Banana.  Varieties Poovan and Monthan are suitable.
(iii) Perennials: Cocoa*, pepper* (Panniyur1 or Panniyur2 or Panniyur5 or Karimunda), nutmeg* and vanilla*      
   *Suitable areas in Pollachi tract of western region and Kanyakumari district.  For vanilla, use disease free planting material and maintain high vigilance to maintain a disease free crop.

48. Few of my coconut trees shows webbed appearance in the under surface of leaf and shows patches of degreening after a few days. What is the reason and how to control that?
This is mainly due to the infestation of Black headed caterpillar and can be controlled by adopting the following control measures.

    • The incidence of the pest is noticed from the month of November to May and from August to November after rainfall. The coconut trees of all ages are attacked.
    • Release the larval (Bethylid, Braconid and Ichneumonid) and pupal (Eulophid) on (chalcid) parasitoids and predators periodically from January, to check the build up of the pest during summer.
    • Among the larval parasitoids, the bethylid Goniozus nephantidis is the most effective in controlling the pest. The optimum level of release is 1:8 of host-parasitoid ratio. The parasitoid should be released @3000/ha under the coconut trees when the pest is in the 2nd or 3rd instar larval stage. Parasitoid release trap may be used to release the parasitoid at the site of feeding. Parasitoids should not be released in the crown region since they will be killed by predators like spiders and reduviid bugs.
    • Remove and burn all affected leaves/leaflets.
    • Spray malathion 50 EC 0.05% (1mi/lit) to cover the undersurface of the leaves thoroughly in case of severe epidemic outbreak of the pest in young palms.
    • Root feeding for the control of coconut Black headed caterpillar: Select a fresh and live root, cut sharply at an angle and insert the root in the insecticidal solution containing monocrotophos 36 WSC 10 ml + water 10 ml in a 7 x 10 cm polythene bag. Secure the bag tightly to the root with a cotton thread. Twenty four hours later, check whether there is absorption. If there is no absorption select another root. These methods should not be resorted to as a routine practice and it is suggested only for cases of severe epidemic outbreak of the pest and when the survival of the tree is threatened.

49. I can notice gummy exudation on the main trunk of coconut. Some where in the middle I can find 1-2 holes with some sound. What is the reason and how to control that?
This is mainly due to red palm weevil incidence. This can be controlled by adopting the following measures

    • Remove and burn all wilting or damaged palms in coconut gardens to prevent further perpetuation of the pest.
    • Avoid injuries on stems of palms as the wounds may serve as oviposition sites for the weevil. Fill all holes in the stem with cement.
    • Avoid the cutting of green leaves. If needed, they should be cut about 120 cm away from the stem.
    • Fill the crown and the axils of top most three leaves with a mixture of fine sand and neem seed powder or neem seed kernel powder (2:1) or lindane 1.3 D (1:1 by volume) once in three months to prevent the attack of rhinoceros beetle damage in which the red palm weevil lays eggs.
    • Plug all holes and inject pyrocone E or carbaryl 1% or 10 ml of monocrotophos into the stem by drilling a hole above the points of attack.
    • Setting up of attractant traps (mud pots) containing sugarcane molasses 2½ kg or toddy 2½ litres + acetic acid 5 ml + yeast 5 g + longitudinally split tender coconut stem/logs of green petiole of leaves of 30 numbers in one acre to trap adult red palm weevils in large numbers.
    • Install pheromone trap @1/2 ha
    • Root feeding: Select a fresh and live root, cut sharply at an angle and insert the root in the insecticidal solution containing monocrotophos 36 WSC 10 ml + water 10 ml in a 7 x 10 cm polythene bag. Secure the bag tightly to the root with a cotton thread. Twenty four hours later, check whether there is absorption. If there is no absorption select another root. These methods should not be resorted to as a routine practice and it is suggested only for cases of severe epidemic outbreak of the pest and when the survival of the tree is threatened.

50. There are some warts or fissures noticed on my harvested coconuts. These coconuts are smaller in size and fetches low market price. Why?
This is mainly due to eriophyid mite infestation. The following measures can be adopted. Package of recommendations for the management of the coconut eriophyid mite

Manurial and fertilizer recommendation (Soil application/tree/year)

Urea 1.3 kg
Super phosphate 2.0 kg
Muriate of potash* 3.5 kg
* Increased quantity is recommended to increase the plant resistance to the mite.
Neem cake application @ 5 kg
Organic manure (well rotten FYM) @ 50 kg

Micronutrients (Soil application / tree / year)

Borax 50 g
Gypsum 1.0 kg
Magnesium sulphate 500g
Grow sunnhemp as intercrop twice a year (Seed rate 30 kg/ha)

Spot application of ecofriendly Botanicals

Round Eco-friendly Botanical Quantity / tree 
1. Azadirachtin 1% 5 ml in one lit. of water
2. Neem oil + Teepol 30 ml in one lit. of water
3. Azadirachtin 1% 5 ml in one lit. of water

Method of application

    • The botanicals should be applied in the sequence indicated above at 45 days interval using a one litre hand sprayer.  Rocker or Pedal sprayer can be used for spraying small trees.
    • The spray should be applied at the crown region by a climber covering only the top six bunches during non rainy season.
    • The bunches must be covered well by the spray fluid and approximately one litre of spray fluid may be required per tree

Precautions and safety measures

    • Spraying should be avoided during windy season to prevent contamination.
    • At the time of spraying, protective mask and clothing should be used.
    • Wash face and hands cleanly with soap after spraying.

51. I want to establish a coconut nursery? From what type of mother palms or what are characters must be considered while selecting the mother palms?


Select seed gardens, which contain large proportion of high yielding trees with uniformity in yielding ability.  Trees growing closer to households, cattle shed, compost pits and other favorable conditions should be avoided.


High yielding mother palms giving not less than 100 nuts/palm/annum should be chosen for collecting seednuts. Alternate bearers should be avoided. The age of the palm chosen be middle age i.e., from 25 to 40 years. Even trees with 15 years age can be selected, if it is high yielding and has stabilized yield.


The mother palm should have straight trunk, spherical or semi spherical crown, high rate of leaf and spathe production, short and stout petiole, more number of female flowers regular bearing habit, non – buckling bunches, high setting parentage, medium in nut size, high copra outturn and free from pest and diseases.  A good regular bearing mother palm produces on an average one leaf and an inflorescence in its axil every month. So, there will be twelve bunches of varying stages of maturity at any one time. Avoid trees producing habitually barren nuts.


Harvest seednuts during the months of February - August to  get maximum germination and good   quality seedlings. Harvest the bunches intended for seednut by lowering them to the ground using a rope to avoid injury to seednuts


The seednuts should be round in shape and when tapped by finger should produce metallic sound. Fully ripe nuts develop twelve months after fertilisation.


To get more quality seedlings, the seednuts of tall and hybrid are to be air cured for one month followed by sand curing for two  months.  For dwarf varieties, the air curing should be lesser than one month followed by sand curing for two months.

52. What are the basic criteria for the selection of coconut seedlings?
Good quality seedlings should possess at least 6 leaves and the girth of collar region should be 10 cm.

53. My land holdings are located near coastal regions of Cuddalore. Whether I can plant oil palm on commercial basis?
No. Gravelly and sandy soils, particularly the coastal sands are not ideal for oil palm cultivation.

54. During oil palm flowering I can find more male inflorescence than the female. Why it is occurring like that?
Water deficiency adversely affects flower initiation, sex differentiation and these results in lower sex ratio due to production of more male inflorescence.

55. I have planted oil palm two years ago. Whether I can allow flowering and fruit set this year or I should postponed that one. If so, what is the benefit?
The bunches produced initially will be very small and have low oil content. Removal of such inflorescences is called ablation or castration. Removal of all inflorescences during the initial three years is found to improve vegetative growth of young palms so that regular harvesting can commence after three and half years of planting. Ablation is done at monthly interval by pulling out the young inflorescence using gloves or with the help of devices such as narrow bladed chisels. Ablation improves drought resistance capacity of young palms by improving shoot and root growth especially in low production areas where dry condition exists.

56. How to assess the ripening of oil palm?
Ripeness of the fruit is determined by the degree of detachment of the fruit from bunches, change in colour and change in texture of the fruit. Ripening of fruits start from top downwards, nigrescens fruits turning reddish orange and the virescens (green) to reddish brown. Fruits also get detached from tip downward in 11 - 20 days time. Ripeness is faster in young palms than in older palms for the bunches of equal weight. The criteria used in determining the degree of ripeness based on the fruit detachment are as follows:


fallen fruits: 10 detached or easily removable fruits for young palms and 5 for adult palms,


number of fruits detached after the bunch is cut; 5 or more fruits/kg of bunch weight,


quantity of detachment per bunch; fruit detachment on 25% of visible surface of bunch.

These criteria could be applied with flexibility.

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