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Agriculture > Spices > Vanilla (Vanilla planifolia)

Crop Management

Interculture

a. Mulching:

Mulching at the base with easily degradable organic materials is good for conserving both moisture and soil. Mulch will add to the fertility of the soil when it disintegrates. Dried organic matter, leaves, weeds, coconut leaves/ husks etc can be used for mulching.

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b. Manure application:

Dried organic materials, leaves, dried cow dung, vermi compost, bone meal and organic inputs such as neem cake can be applied as manure.Apply 120 g of N in the form of leaf mould or FYM in two split doses in June-July and September-October.

c. Watering:

During the first 2-3 years after planting, regular watering is required especially during summer once in two or three days. Plant water potential, ie, internal plant water status decides the pattern of growth in vanilla. A lower plant water potential result in induction of flowering and a higher potential encourages vegetative growth. Growth is arrested under certain moisture regimes. Being an orchid, it is able to absorb atmospheric moisture if the atmospheric moisture potential is higher than that of vanilla. So, sprinkler irrigation is ideal for promotion of vine growth since it provides a favourable microclimate for absorption of moisture through leaves besides supplementing soil moisture. Micro irrigation systems can also be installed depending upon the availability of water and edaphic and topographic features. Drip irrigation is also suited to vanilla irrigation. As far as possible, flooding should be avoided, as vanilla cannot withstand water logging.

d. Shade management:

The thumb rule is that vanilla requires about 50 % shade. The lopping of branches of living support is very important to regulate shade. The support trees, especially glyricidia, should be lopped in May and November to initiate growth of new side branches for trailing of vines. Flowering and quality of beans are highly influenced by the degrees of shade to which the vines are exposed. Studies reveal that vanilla vines need a little more exposure to sunlight than shade during flowering season and at the time of beans maturing. But at the same time over exposure to direct sunlight causes yellowing of vines and leaves. Similarly in heavily shaded plots the stems are found thin, leaves small and flowering delayed. So judicious shade management is very important for the growth and timely flowering and fruit set.

e. Trailing of vines:

Trailing of vines is an important cultural operation. The growth of plants should be limited up to about 150 cm height. This is mainly to facilitate easy manual pollination. The vines are normally grown coiled around the lower branches of support trees and allowed to hang down or allowed to grow on the horizontal supports. The vines are trailed by coiling them around the branches of the support trees or on horizontal supports without letting them to touch the ground.

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