Ashwagandha is a wonder herb as it has multiple medicinal properties. That’s why Ashwagandha farming is famous in India. It gets its name “Ashwagandha” because its roots smell like horses and help to revitalise the body. In addition, its seeds, roots, and leaves are used to make a variety of drugs. Drugs derived from Ashwagandha are used to relieve stress, treat senile dysfunction, and control anxiety, depression, phobias, and schizophrenia, among other things. It is a branching shrub that can take a height of 30cm-120cm and has fleshy, whitish brown roots. The flowers are greenish, with orange-red berries. Rajasthan, Punjab, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh, Gujarat, Maharashtra, and Madhya Pradesh are among India’s fastest-growing states.
Soil for Ashwagandha Farming
Ashwagandha farming produces the best results when grown in sandy loam or soft red soil with good drainage and a pH of 7.5 to 8.0. Growing Ashwagandha in soil that retains moisture and remains waterlogged is impossible. Loose, deep, and well-drained soil is ideal. Ashwagandha can also be grown in black or heavy soils with good drainage. Apart from this, you can make the ground more suitable for farming with the help of excellent farming equipment like Mahindra Arjun 555 and others.
Jawahar Asgand-20 and Jawahar Asgand-134: Alkaloid-rich varieties. Madhya Pradesh’s Jawaharlal Nehru Krishi Vishwavidyalaya created it. Plant height is short, and it is known for its dense planting. In 180 days, the crop yields with a total withanolide content of about 0.30 per cent in dry roots.
Jawaharlal Nehru Krishi Vishwavidyalaya, Madhya Pradesh, has also developed Raj Vijay Ashwagandha-100.
Rakshita and Poshita are high yielding varieties developed by CSIR-CIMAP, Lucknow.
WSR: Created by the CSIR-Regional Research Laboratory in Jammu.
Nagori: This is a regional variety with starchy roots.
Ashwagandha plantation necessitates well-pulverised and levelled soil. Plough the field 2-3 times for fine tilth, and ploughing or harrowing should be done before rains, and then farmyard manure is applied. From April to May, the land is prepared. Moreover, you should take the help of excellent farm machines like Massey Ferguson 7250 for land preparation.
From June and July, prepare a nursery for ashwagandha cultivation. Use a spacing from 20 to 25 cm line to line and 10cm plant to plant, depending on the growth habit and germination percentage. The seeds are typically sown 1 to 3cm deep. Then, in the main field, seedlings are transplanted.
Use a seed rate of 4-5kg per acre for suitable varieties. Before sowing, apply 3gms of thiram or distance M-45 (Indofil M-45) per kg of seeds to protect the crop from seed-borne disease and pests. After treatment, the sources are air-dried before being used for sowing.
Before sowing, the land must be ploughed and harrowed twice with a mouldboard plough to bring the soil into fine tilth and fill the soil with plenty of organic matter to nourish the soil. Then, treated seeds are sown from ground level on raised nursery beds.
Before transplanting, apply 10-20 tonnes of farmyard manure, 15kg of urea, and 15 kilograms of phosphorus to the soil as a nutrient dose.
The seeds germinate in 5-7 days and are ready for transplanting in approximately 35 days. Water the seedling thoroughly before transplanting so that we can easily uproot it. Transplanting should be done in 40cm wide furrows in the field.
To keep the field free of weeds, two weddings are usually held. The first is completed within 20-25 days of sowing, and the second within 20-25 days of the first weeding. To control weeds, a dose of isoproturon 200g/acre and glyphosate 600 should apply g/acre before sowing the seeds.
Excessive water or rain will wreak havoc on the crops. If there is a lot of rain, irrigation isn’t necessary; otherwise, the crops are irrigated once or twice. The crop can be irrigated once every 10-15 days under irrigated conditions. The first irrigation should be done 30-35 days after germination, and the second irrigation should be done 60-70 days after the first irrigation.
You have to protect your crop from pests like Aphids, Insect attacks, Shoot borer, Mite, etc., and diseases like Seedling rot, blight and Leaf spot.
The plant begins to yield after 160-180 days. Harvesting occurs during the dry season when the leaves are drying, and the berries turn a red-orange colour. Harvesting can be done by hand by uprooting the entire plant or machine, such as a power tiller or country plough, without damaging the roots.
After harvesting, you should separate roots from the plant and cut them into smaller pieces (8-10cm in length), which are then air-dried. Grading is completed following post-harvesting. The root pieces are packaged for sale in tin containers. The greater the size of the root pieces, the higher the price. Berries are picked separately and then air-dried and crushed to remove the seeds.
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