Introduction to Amaranth Growing:
The following article is all about Amaranth Growing Information.
Introduction to Amaranth Growing is one of the common leafy vegetable crops grown in India. Amaranth is originated from central and south America and is one of the oldest food crops in the world. Amaranth is cultivated for its fresh tender leaves, stem and grains. Much of the amaranthus species comes from indo-china and Indian regions. Amaranth plants are perennial leafy vegetables having branches from scarce to profuse growth depending on species and varieties. The plant stems are succulent in green or purple in color and sometimes mixed shades of these two. Amaranth leaves are obviate to lanceolate in shape and the color of leaves are green or red and sometimes shades of both the colors. Amaranth flowers are found in clusters and are borne terminally in axils of leaves. Amaranth is cultivated extensively in tropical and in temperate regions. In India A.tricolour L is the species that is mostly cultivated while in south india A. bilum and A.tristis are the mostly found species. This leafy vegetable can be grown in your back yard, containers, pots even in greenhouse/polyhouse. Amaranth can also be grown hydroponic system.
The plants are rich in fiber and with a combination of wheat or brown rice the protein value levels are as high as in fish and red meat. The grains are digested easily, hence it is given to patients recovering from illnesses.
Scientific / Botanical name of Amaranth
AmaranthusCaudatus is the scientific name. Amaranth comes from the Plantae kingdom. The plant comes from the family Amaranthaceae and Amaranthus as genus.
Amaranth in Indian Languages
The common local names the plant is called throughout India are as follows:
- Chua – Uttarakhand.
- Harive – Kannada.
- Cheera – Mayalam.
- Thotakura – Telugu.
- ShravaniMaath – Marathi.
- Khada Saga – Oriya.
- Keerai – Tamil.
- Notya – Bengali.
- Dabho – Gujarati.
Health benefits of Amaranth
- Amaranth grains are gluten free.
- Has more protein than other grains. One cup of grain has 28 grams of protein while cup of oats has 26.1.
- Amaranth provides essential amounts of Lysine. Lysine helps absorb calcium and metabolize fatty acids into energy.
- Helps with hair loss and greying.
- Amaranth seeds lowers cholesterol and risk of constipation.
- High in calcium and helps reduce risk of osteoporosis.
- Amaranth is full of minerals and antioxidants.
- Amaranthus greens help improve eyesight.
- Amaranth is easily digested so traditionally given to patients recovering from illnesses.
Why growing Amaranth
There are many reasons to cultivate amaranthus. The plants are highly tolerant to drought. It can be grown by poor farmers as it requires less input to cultivate. The maturing of the crop is early and produces seeds or grains. Green leaves are consumed as vegetables. Grains produce edible oil for domestic purposes and in industrial use amaranth oil is used in skin cosmetic preparation, in pharmaceutical industries and lubricant in servicing computers. It’s also used for livestock feed.
Amaranth Growing – Amaranth Varieties / Amaranth Cultivars
There are many varieties found in India for growing amaranth for both commercially as well as for home garden.
- Badi Chauti: This variety is highly suitable for commercial farming. The distinctive features of these plant variety are, the leaves are large with thick tender stem. This cultivar is best suited for summer season and continuous giving cutting till monsoon season.
- Choti Chauli: This cultivar is best suited for backyard garden, container gardening and for terrace farming. The distinctive features are, the plants are slight dwarf with thinner stems and leaves are smaller in size. This variety is best suited as an early summer crop.
- CO-1 (A.Dubius): Growing of this variety produces tender greens and the immature stems are thick and fleshy. A. Dubius cultivar leaves are broad, thick and dark green in color; lacks vigour in the early days but after 30 days it makes rapid growth.The plants are suitable for late harvest and the grower can expect very high yield of 8 tonnes per hectare and seed yield 1.5 tonnes per hectare.
- CO-2 (A.Tricolor):The leaves are thick, broad and dark green in color. This amaranth variety grows vigorously giving high yield and suited for early harvest. The grower can expect a high yield of 10 tonnes per hectare.
- CO-3 (A.tristis):In this cultivar the leaves are small and green and the stem is slender and tender. Because of high leaf – stem ratio, grower can have the first clipping in 20 days after sowing and within 90 days can have 10 clippings. For this variety special land preparation is required.
- CO-4 (A.hypochondriacus):This cultivar is a leafy vegetable and grain type. The plants are dwarf and it yields grains 2 to 2.5 tonnes per hectare and leaves 8.5 tonnes per hectare by 25th day. Grains in this plant variety make rapid vegetative growth within 20 to 25 days and the crop duration is 90 days.
- CO-5 (A.tricolor):In this cultivar the plants are medium in height with leaves in green and pink dual color. The grower can expect its first harvest in 25 days and by 55 days can harvest upto 40 tonnes per hectare. The plants are fiber free and perform well between January to May and from June to September.
- PusaLalChaulai: The color of leaves and stems in this cultivar is magenta (bright red). The red dye extracted from the plants are used as natural food additive and also be used in textiles and wool industry for dyeing. This variety can be grown in home gardens both as vegetable and ornamental purposes. Grower can expect a yield of 45 to 50 tonnes per hectare.
Climate and Soil Requirement for Amaranth Growing
Leaf amaranth crop is adapted to hot humid climatic conditions. Amaranthus crop is widely distributed in tropical and sub-tropical regions, and in temperate regions the crop can be grown throughout the year. Amaranth grows in almost all types of soil while best crop is harvested in well drained fertile loamy soils. Some varieties can grow in soils with pH value as high as 10, the ideal soil pH is 5.5 to 7.5. PusaLal Chaulai variety needs bright sun light for color development.
Land Preparation in Amaranth Growing
Prepare the land to fine tilth by thorough ploughing and harrowing. Well decomposed farm yard manure about 20 to 25 tonnes per hectare must be mixed to the soil at the final ploughing. Clear the land from all unwanted plants, bushes and weeds. It is recommended to burn the bushes that are in the land as ashes favors amaranths production. Loose and friable lands with rich organic matter will boost the plants for early and heavy yield.
Propagation in Amaranth Growing
Propagation can be done either by direct sowing of seeds or transplanted method (grown on nursery beds).
Amaranth Growing – Direct Sowing: Prepare the field into small raise beds of 150 cm to 180 cm wide and 300 cm to 360 cm in length. In between beds irrigation channels are prepared to water the plants. Seeds of amaranth are mixed with fine dry sand as they are too small in size. The seeds are sown uniformly by broadcasting and cover the seeds with a thin layer of sand or soil or by raking up the soil. The seeds can also be sown by drilling lines with a distance of 20 cm to 22 cm between the lines.
Amaranth Growing – Transplanted Method: This method is mainly practiced for multi-cut cultivars especially with Badi Chauli variety. Its seeds are sown in nursery beds and the young saplings of 20 to 25 days old are transplanted to the main land. The land is made into shallow trenches of 50 to 60 cm in width and dug up to convenient length. The soil in the trenches must be thoroughly incorporated with well rotten farm yard manure. The young seedlings are transplanted with a spacing of about 22 cm x 12 cm in the trenches.
Seed Rate, Season, Sowing and Spacing in Amaranth Growing
Amaranth is a perennial crop in south India. For summer crop seeds must be sown in December to January and April to May for monsoon crop. In north India seed sowing must be taken from March to June. 2.5 kilos per hectare of seeds mixed with 10 parts of sand is broadcasted evenly on the beds. In transplanting method, 750 grams per hectare of seeds are required at nursery beds.
Irrigation in Amaranth Growing
Though the plants are drought resistant, Amaranth performs best under irrigation. Grower can expect harvesting of leaves every two weeks during summer. Frequent irrigation is required to keep the soil moist in summer at four to six days interval. In monsoons depending upon the rainfall and soil moisture content irrigation should be scheduled. Irrigate the land soon after seeds are hand sown in the trenches and basins.
Manures and Fertilizers in Amaranth Growing
Amaranth is high yielding crop and a heavy feeder. The plant can survive on residual fertility from the previous crops. Amaranth is a fast growing and short duration crop, a basal dose of 20 to 25 tonnes of Farm Yard Manure (FYM) along with 50-25-20 kilo NPK per hectare is recommended. In pulling out method, 20 kilo nitrogen must be top dressed twice for subsequent seedling pulling out. Higher dose is recommended in the ratio 75-25-25 for clipping cultivars.
Inter Crops in Amaranth Growing
Amaranth can go well with dual or inter crop. Best crop rotation can be between small grains or canola. A one or two year double crop can be cultivated amaranth with either corn or soya beans. For more information on inter cropping in amaranth can be obtained from local agriculture officer.
Pests and Diseases in Amaranth Growing
No significant diseases have been identified in grain amaranth.
- Damping-off: Planting the crops densely with less aeration enhances the disease development. Stem canker or root necrosis can be seen in seedlings. To control, avoid over watering or dense planting and use disease free seeds.
- Choanephora blight: Is a fungus spreads by air currents and infection is predisposed by injuries. The affected plant parts have hairy appearance consisting of fungal spores. To control practice good field sanitation and use disease resistant cultivars.
- Weevils: The most common pest is the pigweed weevil. The larvae damages by eating into roots and stems while adults feed on leaves. To control, uproot the plant and destroy the attacked plants thereby reduce number of weevils.
- Stink Bugs:Flower heads and seeds especially at seed fill stage are damaged caused by bugs. To control spray with the correct pesticide.
Harvesting in Amaranth Growing
For early maturing varieties, the plants can be harvested in 45 to 60 days. And for late maturing varieties, the plants can be harvested in 75 to 120 days. Harvesting amaranthus plants is usually plucked as a whole plant from roots for tender greens. The other method is cutting of amaranthus fully grown leaves. Tops of the plants are also cut leaving the lower parts to produce new shoots in their axils. Cutting is subsequently done at regular intervals.
Yield in Amaranth Growing
Yields vary on type of cultivars planted and on other farming parameters. Please check the cultivars and varieties section above for each cultivar yield.
Seed Production in Amaranth Growing
To know if the seeds are ready for harvest, squeeze seeds between thumb and palm and if the seeds are hard and do not produce milk, the plants are ready for harvesting. If some fluid is produced then give one week to dry.
Collect the heads by cutting below inflorescence or at the stem end. Spread the heads in polythene bags, threshing is done by beating the heads using a stick and the seeds will come off. Spread the seeds under the sun after winnow the seeds to clean. Under two or three days sunshine will reduce the moisture levels.
Amaranth Growing – Marketing of Amaranth
Amaranth can be marketed locally or by marketing agency for export. The seeds that are stored in plastic bags or pouches can be marketed at retail outlets. Washed and shade dried leaves are stored in refrigeration for freshness and refrigerated transported for marketing.
Amaranth Growing Tips
- Mix the seeds in fine dry sand and sow shallow on the soil top.
- The seeds must be sown in about 1.5 cm deep.
- Apply Nitrogen after every clipping or cutting.
- Avoid both over watering and dense planting.
- Since the crop is in the weed family, avoid herbicides.
- For low rainfall regions, short varieties are preferred, while tall varieties for high rainfall regions.
- Water logging must be avoided.
- Thinning gives more space to feed and isolation gives more aeration and reduces fungus attack.
Bottom Line of Amaranth Growing
It is one of profitable leafy vegetable crops grown with minimal investment.