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Agriculture > Vegetables > Amaranthus (Amaranthus spp.)

Planting & Propagation

Seed rate: 1.5 to 2.0 kg/ha

Planting

Amaranth requires thorough land preparation and a well prepared bed for good growth. Prepare the land by ploughing or digging followed by levelling. Amaranth is planted either by direct seeding or transplanting. The choice of planting method de­pends on availability of seed and labour and may also vary with the growing season. Direct seeding is appropriate when plenty of seed is available, la­bour is limited, and during the dry season when fre­quency of flooding is less. Transplanting is preferred when there is limited amount of seed, plenty of labour, and during the wet season when heavy rains and flooding are most likely to wash out seeds. To shorten the crop duration in the field and to se­cure a better and more uniform stand especially during the wet season, raising seedlings in a nurs­ery followed by transplanting to the field is preferred to direct seeding.

a) Transplanting

There are two steps to transplant­ing: seedling production and main field planting.

Seedling production:

Seedlings can be grown in a seedbed or divided seedling trays. The seedlings grown in seedbed are pulled and bare-root transplanted, whereas container-grown seedlings are lifted with the root ball intact and transplanted.

While raising the seedlings in a raised soil bed, the soil should be partially sterilized by burning a 3-5 cm thick layer of rice straw or other dry organic matter on the bed. This also adds minor amounts of P and K to the soil, which helps establish the seed­lings. Broadcast the seeds lightly in a seed­bed and cover 1 cm deep. Cover the seedbeds with an insect proof net, or sow the seeds inside a greenhouse or screen house. This provides shade and protects seedlings from heavy rain and pests. Water the seedlings thoroughly every morning or as needed (moist, but not wet), using a fine mist sprinkler to avoid soil splash and plant damage.

The transplants can also be raised on plastic seedling trays. Seedling trays vary in sizes. For amaranth, trays with cells 3-4 cm wide and deep are suitable. Fill the seedling tray with a potting mixture that has good water-holding ca­pacity and good drainage such as peat moss, com­mercial potting soil, or a potting mix prepared from soil, compost, rice hulls, vermiculite, or sand; a mixture of 66 % peat moss and 34 % coarse vermiculite being ideal.  Sow two or three seeds per cell at 0.5-1.0 cm depth and thin to one seedling at the two to three true leaf stage.

If the seedlings have been grown in shade, harden them off by gradually exposing them to di­rect sunlight during the 4-5 days just prior to trans­planting. On the first day, expose them to 3-4 hours of direct sunlight. Increase the duration until they receive full sun on the fourth day. Seedlings are ready for transplanting about three weeks after sowing or when transplants have five or six leaves.

Main field planting:

In the main field, make shallow trenches of width 30-35 cm at 30 cm apart. Well rotten FYM is mixed with soil in the trenches. Transplant 20-30 day old seedlings in the shallow trenches at a distance of 20 cm in two rows. During rainy season planting shall be done on raised beds. Transplant in the late afternoon or on a cloudy day to minimize transplant shock. Place each transplant in its hole and cover the roots with soil and lightly firm. Irrigate immediately after transplanting to establish good root-to-soil con­tact.

b) Direct seeding

When direct seeding is used, seeds are either broadcast or sown in rows on well-prepared seed­beds. Broadcast seeds uniformly at the rate of 0.5 to 1.0 g/m2 of bed; there are about 1000 amaranth seeds per gram. Since amaranth seeds are very small, mix seeds with sand at a ratio of 1 g seed to 100 g sand to make it easier to sow the seed and obtain a uniform stand. Cover seed lightly with a layer of compost or rice hulls immediately after broadcasting. When plants are to be grown in rows, make fur­rows 0.5-1.0 cm deep and space rows 10 cm apart on the bed. Sow seeds 5 cm apart within the row and cover with a layer of compost or rice hulls.

 

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