Groundnut Cultivation and farming in india

Groundnut, also known as peanut or monkey nut, is a major oilseed crop of India and also an important agricultural export commodity. It is rich in protein, oil, minerals and vitamins. It is grown in an area of about 85 lakh hectares with the total production of 84 lakh tonnes. Groundnut cultivation in India is mainly confined to the states of Gujarat, Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan, Punjab and Orissa.

Soil and Climate Requirements

Groundnut is best grown in well-drained sandy loam or sandy clay loam soil with a pH of 6.5-7.0 and high fertility. Deep well-drained soils with good aeration are ideal for groundnut. The crop cannot tolerate waterlogging, salinity or alkalinity. Optimum soil temperature for good germination of groundnut is 30°C. The low temperature at sowing delays germination and increases seed and seedling diseases.

Groundnut is a warm season crop that requires a long and warm growing season of about 120-150 days. It can be grown from sea level to an altitude of 1500 meters. The crop needs adequate moisture during the vegetative and flowering stages and dry weather during the pod development and maturity stages. The optimum rainfall requirement for groundnut is 500-600 mm per annum.

Varieties

There are many varieties of groundnut available in India for different agro-climatic conditions and purposes. Some of the popular varieties are:

VarietyDuration (days)Yield (kg/ha)Special features
TMV 2110-1152500-3000Suitable for rainfed and irrigated conditions; resistant to rust and leaf spot diseases; bold seeded with high oil content
JL 24120-1252500-3000Suitable for rainfed conditions; tolerant to drought and salinity; medium sized seeds with high oil content
TAG 24125-1303000-3500Suitable for irrigated conditions; resistant to rust and late leaf spot diseases; bold seeded with high oil content
K 6130-1353000-3500Suitable for irrigated conditions; resistant to rust and late leaf spot diseases; bold seeded with high oil content
ICGS 76140-1453500-4000Suitable for irrigated conditions; resistant to rust and late leaf spot diseases; bold seeded with high oil content

Land Preparation

The land should be prepared well in advance before sowing. The soil should be ploughed thoroughly to obtain a fine tilth and to remove weeds and stubbles. The field should be leveled and harrowed to make it uniform and smooth. The land should be given one or two ploughings followed by cross harrowing. The clods should be broken and the soil should be firmed by rolling or planking. The field should be divided into small plots of convenient size with proper drainage channels.

Sowing

The sowing time of groundnut varies from region to region depending on the onset of monsoon and availability of moisture. In general, the sowing time is June-July for kharif season, October-November for rabi season and February-March for summer season. The sowing should be done when there is sufficient soil moisture for germination.

The seed rate depends on the variety, seed size, germination percentage and spacing. In general, the seed rate varies from 80-120 kg/ha for bold seeded varieties and 100-140 kg/ha for medium sized varieties. The seeds should be treated with fungicides such as thiram or captan @ 3 g/kg of seed to prevent seed borne diseases. The seeds should also be inoculated with Rhizobium culture @ 10 g/kg of seed to enhance nitrogen fixation.

The seeds should be sown at a depth of 5-6 cm in rows spaced at 30-45 cm apart depending on the variety and soil type. The spacing between plants within the row should be 10-15 cm. The seeds should be covered with fine soil and pressed lightly. The sowing should be done with a seed drill or by dibbling method.

Manure and Fertilizer Application

Groundnut requires a balanced supply of nutrients for optimum growth and yield. The application of manure and fertilizer should be based on soil test results and crop requirement. In general, the following doses of manure and fertilizer are recommended for groundnut:

  • Application of 10-12 t/ha of chicken manure or 20 t/ha of well-decomposed farm yard manure at least one month before sowing and mixed into the soil.
  • Application of 20 kg/ha of nitrogen, 40 kg/ha of phosphorus and 40 kg/ha of potassium as basal dose at the time of sowing. The nitrogen should be applied in the form of urea, phosphorus in the form of single super phosphate and potassium in the form of muriate of potash.
  • Application of 20 kg/ha of nitrogen as top dressing at the time of first weeding (30-35 days after sowing).
  • Application of 20 kg/ha of sulfur as gypsum at the time of pegging (45-50 days after sowing) to enhance pod formation and oil content.

Irrigation

Groundnut is a drought tolerant crop that can withstand short periods of water stress. However, irrigation is essential for obtaining higher yields and better quality. The irrigation requirement depends on the soil type, rainfall pattern, crop stage and climatic conditions. In general, the following irrigation schedule is recommended for groundnut:

  • Pre-sowing irrigation to ensure adequate soil moisture for germination.
  • First irrigation at 25-30 days after sowing or at the time of first weeding.
  • Second irrigation at 45-50 days after sowing or at the time of pegging.
  • Third irrigation at 65-70 days after sowing or at the time of pod development.
  • Fourth irrigation at 85-90 days after sowing or at the time of pod filling.

The irrigation interval should be 10-15 days depending on the soil moisture status. The irrigation should be given through furrows or sprinklers to avoid wetting the foliage and pods. The irrigation should be stopped 10-15 days before harvest to facilitate easy digging and drying of pods.

Weed Control

Weeds are a major problem in groundnut cultivation as they compete with the crop for nutrients, water, space and light. They also harbor pests and diseases and reduce the quality and quantity of pods. Weed control is essential for obtaining higher yields and better quality. Weed control can be done by mechanical, cultural or chemical methods or by a combination of these methods.

Mechanical weed control involves manual weeding or hoeing with hand tools or power weeders. This method is effective but labor intensive and time consuming. It should be done at least twice during the crop growth, once at 25-30 days after sowing and again at 45-50 days after sowing.

Cultural weed control involves intercropping, mulching, crop rotation or mixed cropping with other crops that suppress weeds. Intercropping groundnut with crops such as maize, sorghum, pearl millet or small grains can reduce weed growth and increase land use efficiency. Mulching the soil with organic materials such as straw, leaves or crop residues can conserve soil moisture, prevent weed germination and improve soil fertility. Crop rotation with non-leguminous crops can break the weed cycle and reduce soil-borne diseases. Mixed cropping with crops such as sesame, sunflower, castor or cotton can provide additional income and diversify risk.

Chemical weed control involves the use of herbicides to kill or suppress weeds. Herbicides can be applied either pre-emergence or post-emergence depending on the type and stage of weeds. Pre-emergence herbicides are applied before the emergence of weeds and crop while post-emergence herbicides are applied after the emergence of weeds and crop. The choice and dose of herbicide depend on the weed spectrum, crop stage, soil type and climatic conditions. Some of the commonly used herbicides for groundnut are:

HerbicideDose (kg/ha)Time of applicationMode of action
Fluchloralin1.0-1.5Pre-sowingInhibits cell division in roots
Pendimethalin1.0-1.5Pre-emergenceInhibits cell division in roots
Alachlor1.0-1.5Pre-emergenceInhibits lipid synthesis in shoots
Butachlor1.0-1.5Pre-emergenceInhibits lipid synthesis in shoots

Pest and Disease Management

Groundnut is susceptible to various pests and diseases that can cause significant yield losses and quality deterioration. Pest and disease management is essential for obtaining higher yields and better quality. Pest and disease management can be done by integrated pest management (IPM) approach that involves the use of resistant varieties, cultural practices, biological control agents and chemical pesticides as per need.

Pests

Some of the major pests that attack groundnut are:

  • Groundnut aphid: It is a small (2 mm long), pear-shaped, green, greenish-brown, or greenish-black insect that sucks sap from leaflets and tender shoots. It also transmits viral diseases such as rosette and peanut stripe. It can be controlled by using resistant varieties, removing volunteer plants and crop residues, intercropping with cowpea or soybean as trap crops, spraying with neem oil or botanical extracts, or using chemical pesticides such as menazon, endosulfan or phosphamidon.
  • Jassids: They are small (3 mm long), wedge-shaped, green or yellowish-green insects that suck sap from the lower surface of leaves. They cause yellowing, curling and drying of leaves. They can be controlled by using resistant varieties, removing weeds, spraying with neem oil or botanical extracts, or using chemical pesticides such as dimethoate or monocrotophos.
  • Thrips: They are tiny (1-2 mm long), slender, yellowish-brown insects that suck sap from the upper surface of leaves. They cause silvering, bronzing and necrosis of leaves. They also transmit viral diseases such as bud necrosis. They can be controlled by using resistant varieties, removing weeds, spraying with neem oil or botanical extracts, or using chemical pesticides such as dimethoate or monocrotophos.
  • Leaf miner: It is a small (2 mm long), black fly that lays eggs on the lower surface of leaves. The larvae mine the leaf tissues and cause white blotches on leaves. They can be controlled by using resistant varieties, removing infested leaves, spraying with neem oil or botanical extracts, or using chemical pesticides such as quinalphos or chlorpyrifos.
  • Gram pod borer: It is a medium-sized (15-20 mm long), brownish caterpillar that bores into the pods and feeds on the seeds. It causes damage to the pods and reduces the yield and quality. It can be controlled by using resistant varieties, removing infested pods, spraying with neem oil or botanical extracts, or using chemical pesticides such as quinalphos or chlorpyrifos.
  • Tobacco caterpillar: It is a large (40-50 mm long), greenish-brown caterpillar with yellow stripes that feeds on the leaves and pods. It causes defoliation and pod damage. It can be controlled by using resistant varieties, removing infested plants, spraying with neem oil or botanical extracts, or using chemical pesticides such as quinalphos or chlorpyrifos.
  • Groundnut white grub: It is a large (30-40 mm long), white larva with a brown head that feeds on the roots and pods underground. It causes wilting and pod damage. It can be controlled by using resistant varieties, ploughing the field after harvest to expose the larvae to predators and sunlight, applying biopesticides such as Bacillus thuringiensis or Metarhizium anisopliae to the soil, or using chemical pesticides such as carbofuran or phorate.

Diseases

Some of the major diseases that affect groundnut are:

  • Early leaf spot: It is a fungal disease caused by Cercospora arachidicola that produces circular brown spots with yellow haloes on the upper surface of leaves. It causes premature defoliation and reduces yield and quality. It can be controlled by using resistant varieties, rotating with non-leguminous crops, burying crop residues by deep plowing, spraying with fungicides such as benomyl, captafol, chlorothalonil, copper hydroxide, mancozeb or sulphur.
  • Late leaf spot: It is a fungal disease caused by Phaeoisariopsis personata that produces irregular dark brown to black spots on both surfaces of leaves. It causes premature defoliation and reduces yield and quality. It can be controlled by using resistant varieties, rotating with non-leguminous crops, burying crop residues by deep plowing, spraying with fungicides such as benomyl, captafol, chlorothalonil, copper hydroxide, mancozeb or sulphur.
  • Yellow mold or aflaroot: It is a fungal disease caused by Aspergillus flavus that produces yellowish-green mold on the pods and seeds. It produces aflatoxins, which are highly toxic and carcinogenic to humans and animals. It causes pod rot and reduces yield and quality. It can be controlled by using resistant varieties, harvesting the crop at the right time, drying the pods properly, storing the pods in clean and dry conditions, spraying with fungicides such as benomyl or carbendazim.
  • Stem and pod rot: It is a fungal disease caused by Sclerotium rolfsii that produces white cottony growth on the stems and pods. It causes wilting, stem girdling and pod rot. It can be controlled by using resistant varieties, rotating with non-leguminous crops, removing infected plants, applying biocontrol agents such as Trichoderma harzianum or Trichoderma viride to the soil, spraying with fungicides such as carbendazim or thiophanate-methyl.
  • Rust: It is a fungal disease caused by Puccinia arachidis that produces reddish-brown pustules on the lower surface of leaves. It causes premature defoliation and reduces yield and quality. It can be controlled by using resistant varieties, rotating with non-leguminous crops, removing infected plants, spraying with fungicides such as mancozeb or propiconazole.

Harvesting

Groundnut is ready for harvest when the leaves turn yellow and start shedding. The maturity of the crop can also be judged by the color of the inner surface of the pod shell. The color changes from white to brown or black as the crop matures. The harvesting time varies from 90 to 150 days depending on the variety and season.

The harvesting of groundnut involves two operations: digging and threshing. Digging is done by using a spade or a plough to lift the plants along with the pods from the soil. The plants are then allowed to dry in the sun for 2-3 days. Threshing is done by beating the plants with a stick or a flail to separate the pods from the plants. The pods are then cleaned, graded and stored in gunny bags or jute sacks in a dry and well-ventilated place.

The yield of groundnut varies from 1 to 4 t/ha depending on the variety, season, soil type and management practices.

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