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Cultural practices to improve guava yield


By Our Agriculture Correspondent

Guava is a promising fruit crop for the semi-arid tropics, and this hardy crop yields more when sound cultural practices are adopted,says Mr. S.S. Nagarajan, Senior Vice President (Agricultural Research), `J'-Farm, Pudupakkam about 30 km south of Chennai.

An expert in commercial horticultural crops, especially mango and guava, Mr. Nagarajan says that regular manuring with rich organic amendments, and hard pruning twice a year immediately after the harvests would enhance the productivity of the trees.

The micronutrient deficiency, particularly the zinc deficiency could be corrected by foliar spraying with zinc sulphate solution. Alternatively, sheep manure or enriched organic manure should be added liberally to avoid micronutrient deficiency, according to him.

``In Tamil Nadu, the most widely cultivated varieties of guava are ''Lucknow 49`` and ''Allahabad``, and both the varieties should be grown in the farm to get year round harvests,'' says Mr. Nagarajan. The trees should be watered once a week, and manured at least twice a year. The best time for manuring will be August-September, and January-February. Liberal quantities of ripe farmyard manure should be applied at the base of each tree, and at least 250 g each of nitrogen, phosphorus and potash should be applied during August-September. The trees should be copiously irrigated immediately after manuring. During January-February season, in addition to about 50 kg of enriched farmyard manure, 170 g each of nitrogen, phosphorus and potash should be added to every tree, according to him.

Guava is infested with serious pests, and care should be taken to keep these at bay. Mites, mealy bugs, and tea mosquito bugs are the major pests of this fruit crop. The mites can be controlled by sparying wettable sulphur, and mealy bugs can be managed by resorting to spraying with malathion. Tea mosquito bug can be kept at bay by spraying nuvacron.

``Farmers can manage these pests by practicing sound integrated pest management strategies and application of botanical insecticides also. The pests can be prevented by regular application of rich organic amendments, tank silt and powdered neem cake. But very few farmers adopt this integrated approach,'' explains Mr. Nagarajan.

A spacing of 6.5 m by 6. 5 m is recommended for guava cultivation, and about 250 plants can be accommodated in a hectare. In ``J'' farm, two yields are recorded each year. The hefty harvest will be in November-December, and the fruit-size and weight will be more then. However, the taste will not be very good. About 17.5 tonnes of fruits can be harvested per hectare in the season.

The second harvest will be in June, and the average yield will be 12.5 tonnes per hectare. The fruits will be of medium-size, but will be very sweet and tasty, according to him.

The total cost of cultivation for guava will be about Rs. 50,000 per hectare, and the gross income will about Rs. 1,32,500. This will leave a net profit of Rs. 57,500 per hectare, according to him. ``Several progressive growers have recorded much higher yields and income from guava. The native fertility of the soil is a key factor for successful guava cultivation,'' points out Nagarajan.

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