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PATCHOULI IS an aromatic crop, which is mainly cultivated for its oil used in the manufacture of perfumes, cosmetics, medicines, beverages and in bakery.

The crop, which is a native of Philippines, is now commercially cultivated in China, Brazil, Malaysia and West Indies.

In India, Patchouli cultivation is almost non-existent and about 100 tonnes of Patchouli oil is still being imported at a cost of about rupees nine crore annually. The oil is priced at Rs. 1,200 per kg in the market.

Researchers at the Central Institute of Medicinal and Aromatic crops (CIMAPS) in Lucknow have developed a high yielding Patchouli variety called Samarth.


Rooted cuttings

This variety is usually propagated by rooted cuttings grown in a nursery. Cuttings are taken from healthy plants. Terminal stem cuttings of 10-12 cm length with 3-4 nodes are generally preferred.

All the leaves except 3-4 leaves are removed. The basal end of the cuttings is dipped in a rooting hormone and then planted in the nursery beds.

A nursery area of about 200 sq metre is sufficient for raising plants required for one hectare, according to the scientists.

The nursery is generally raised during the monsoon. Transplanting the cuttings can be done all through the year except during peak summer, winter and during heavy rains. The cuttings take 30-35 days for rooting and can then be transplanted to the main field.

About 1 kg of carbofuran, 5-10 tonnes of farmyard manure and 0.5 tonnes of neem cake are applied to the main field and ploughed well.

Raised beds

Raised beds of 75 x 45cm are prepared and the rooted cuttings are planted on the raised beds with a spacing of 50x50cm in straight lines.

Irrigation is done immediately after planting the cuttings. About 40,000 cuttings are required for planting in one hectare. Fertilizer application depends on the soil fertility. Patchouli crop requires high doses of urea and potassium.

About 100 kg of diammonium phosphate (DAP) and muriate of potash (MOP) should be applied to the main field and ploughed well.

About 150 kg of urea should be applied in 2 split doses. The first dose is to be applied immediately after planting the cuttings and the second dose one month after the first application, explained the scientists.

The crop should be kept weed-free and weeding should be done as and when required. Irrigation must be done for 3-4 days for the first 15-20 days after planting in the field and later done at 8-15 days' interval. Water logging should be avoided.

The variety is found susceptible to root knot, root wilt and root rot infestations.

About 1 kg of carbofuran and 1 tonne of pongamia mixed with the nursery soil and in the main field before planting are found effective in the control of root knot, root rot and wilt infestations, according to the scientists.

Spraying 0.5 per cent dimethoate or malathion at fortnightly intervals is found effective in the control of leaf eating caterpillars, leaf webber and leaf roller pests.

Harvesting time

The crop can be harvested 5 months after planting. The right time for harvesting the leaves is when the leaves turn pale green or slightly brown in colour.Subsequent harvests can be done once every three months. Once planted, this variety can be maintained for 2-3 years.

Patchouli can also be grown as an intercrop. The cost of cultivation in one hectare is about Rs. 35,000 and farmers can expect a net return of about Rs. 60,000 during the first year.

For more information readers can contact: Farmwealth Bio-Tech


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