Introduction to Gooseberries (Amla):
The following information is about Amla Cultivation (Indian Gooseberry).
Gooseberry is a well known fruit all over the world. It is native to Europe, Northern Africa and the Caucasus. The Gooseberries are cultivated both on commercial and domestic scale. The scientific name of the Gooseberries is Ribes uva – crispa. Gooseberries belong to Grossulariaceae. The genus of Gooseberries belongs to Ribes. These are grown along with currant as they also belong to the same family. They are grown easily and are soft in texture.
The tree is bushy and the leaf structure is spiny. The bushy tree can be trained against the wall or to the fence and then it is called as Gooseberry patch. The berries are red, yellow, green or white in colour and they are prickly, hairy and smooth. They are perfect for preparing pies, jellies, jams, desserts and wine. In Gooseberries there are two types of species they are European and American Gooseberries. There are many varieties in two species, but the fruits vary in colour, size, shape, sweetness etc.
Characteristics of Gooseberries:
- The brush of the gooseberry tree has a long life span, it reaches up to the height of 3-10 ft and its width are 6 ft.
- Leaves are dark green in colour and are lobed.
- The flowers are bell – shaped and grow in groups.
- Gooseberries of wild varieties are smaller in size with good flavor. The nature of the fruit is hairy and smooth.
- Berries are green when they start growing; they change to red, purple, yellow, or white variants upon ripening.
Properties of Gooseberries:
- The energy content in Gooseberries is 184 kcal.
- Gooseberry has carbohydrates of 10.18 g.
- Fat present in Gooseberries is 0.58 g.
- The protein content in Gooseberries is 0.88 g.
- The gooseberry contains minerals such as Magnesium, Iron, Calcium, Copper, Manganese, Potassium, Phosphorous, Zinc, and Sodium.
- The vitamins that are present in a Gooseberries are Vitamin A, B6, C, and E.
Cultivars/varieties of Gooseberries:
The most important and popular varieties of Gooseberries:
- This variety is popularly found in the United Kingdom.
- These are also called as “English white”.
- The fruit turns into green or yellow upon ripening.
- The fragrance of the fruit is sweet and the fruit skin has hair.
- This variety is good for fresh consumption.
- This variety is native to the United Kingdom.
- They are large, oval in shape and small in size.
- This variety of Gooseberries are red in color with smooth hair on the skin.
- These are found in the market during the second week of July.
- These are popularly found in America.
- Berries are large in size and red in colour.
- The texture and taste of the Gooseberries are excellent.
- We can find these varieties in the market in the month of July.
- This variety is grown in the United States and it is native to England.
- The berries are dark-red in colour.
- They are available in July-August.
- This variety is native to England.
- They are elongated in shape.
- The colour of the berries is purple-red upon ripening.
- The skin of the berries contains small hair on it; the taste and smell are excellent.
- These varieties are found in the beginning of July.
Soil and climate requirements for Amla Cultivation:
The most preferred soil for the plants is well drained silt loam or clay soil. Before planting, the soil should be tested for proper absorption levels and nutrient content. The pH level which is required for the Gooseberry plant is 6.0 – 7.0, but they can also thrive well in higher pH levels.
The Gooseberries are ideal for cooler climates. Sometimes they survive best in min-winter temperatures also. The location should be partly shaded. The plantation should be never done on an area with north facing because it delays blooming. The plant should be kept cool in summer season.
Land preparation and planting for Amla Cultivation:
The land should be prepared properly before the cultivation begins. To give fine texture to the soil, the land should be ploughed and harrowed. After tilling and levelling, the soil should be manured properly with decomposed farmyard manure. In the mainland, proper drainage channels should be prepared so that excess water can be drained out. The soil should be well prepared before planting. Thoroughly liberal amount of manuring should be done to make the soil more fertile.
The well rooted plants should be planted when they are 1-2 years old. The spacing should be 4-6 feet away. Unlike the bare-root stock, the plantation should be done in early spring season.
Propagation method for Amla Cultivation:
Propagation is done by the cuttings as it is easy. When we are propagating Gooseberries the cutting should be taken from the plant and should be encouraged for rooting. The hardwood cutting should be taken from the Gooseberry bushes. The cutting should be taken during the dormant season. Deep pots should be selected and the mixture of coarse grit and compost should be filled into them. Some hormone root powder should be spread on a paper towel and the cutting should be inserted into the pot to a depth of ½ inch.
Manure and fertilization method in Amla Cultivation:
While planting, decomposed manure i.e. farmyard manure should be applied to the soil. The plants should be fertilized with Nitrogen, Phosphorous and Potassium in appropriate quantities. Along with the micronutrients, the micronutrients should also be provided so that there would be no deficiency. The soil should be tested so that the nutrients which are required by the soil can be known.
Irrigation methods in Amla Cultivation:
The most important periods of irrigation of the plants are during flowering and fruit bearing stages. In summer, irrigation should be given with an interval of 8-10 days. But in the winter, irrigation can be given with a 3-4 week interval. During the rainy season, irrigation should be given, but care should be taken so that water-logging doesn’t take place. When the moisture content seems to be low, then light irrigation should be given to keep the soil moist. Drip irrigation is the best method of providing water to amla plants as it saves lots of water.
Intercultural methods in Amla Cultivation:
Weeding: Weed control around the field helps in deterring pests in the field. The below measures can be used for effective weed control.
- Before planting, emerging weeds can be destroyed by the use of pre-emergence herbicides.
- The grass which is around the crop should be killed, but it shouldn’t harm the crop. We should select the herbicides in a proper way.
- The weeds can also be removed manually.
- Before the weed plant starts to spread using the contact herbicides if necessary.
Pruning: The pruning process should be done as there would be good air flow in between plants as this can also reduce the effect of diseases.
Training: It is a bushy plant so it should be trained for trailing on the wall or fences.
Mulching: The weeds can be controlled by mulching with black alkathene or hay during cool climates; this also conserves the moisture level of the soil.
Intercropping: While Amla Cultivation they can be intercropped with other crops like horse gram, cow gram, green gram, black gram and also with vegetable crops. During intercropping, additional inputs like manure, fertilizers and irrigation should be supplied effectively.
Pest and disease control measures in Amla Cultivation:
The pests that infest the Gooseberry crop are Gooseberry fruit worm and Imported currant worm.
Control of Gooseberry plant pests:
- Pests can be controlled by spraying Bacillus thuringiensis.
- The intensity of pests can also be reduced by spraying chemicals like azadirachtin or Malathion as soon as the pests appear.
The common diseases that infect the Gooseberry crops are Powdery mildew and Leaf spot
Control of Gooseberry plant diseases:
- If any symptoms of the disease are found, then the part of the plant should be destroyed so that the plants can’t transfer the disease to other plants or parts.
- By regular pruning there will be good air circulation. Irrigation through sprinklers should be avoided.
- The dead plants should be removed immediately as they can also be a cause for the diseases.
Harvesting techniques in Amla Cultivation:
Based on the variety of the Gooseberries, harvesting is done from late June to mid July. These factors help the farmer for harvesting the Gooseberries:
- Ease of picking
All the cultivars have thorns on the stems and wearing long sleeves during harvest is recommended. The time period for harvesting in general is 4 – 6 weeks. They should be picked when they are soft and fuller in size. These should be harvested in cool climate so that they remain fresh for longer time.
Post harvesting techniques in Amla Cultivation:
Cleaning: While cleaning the Gooseberries, clean and dry terry cloth should be spread on the Gooseberries over a slanted surface; the berries should be rolled gently with the towel and should be cleaned gently. The berries are then rinsed and the blossoms along with the stem ends are removed.
Storage: They should be stored at cool temperatures like a refrigerator or in a cold storage room. While sending them to the markets, they should be packed in frozen bags or containers.
Transportation: Transportation of Gooseberries is done by the road trucks within the local markets, but there are other means for exporting the produce.
Marketing: Gooseberries market value is determined by their size, shape, weight and maturity.
Yield in Amla Cultivation:
The yield of the Gooseberries is around 2 kg per year from a single tree.
Read: Growing Dates.