Introduction




1. Introduction

Cashew nut (Anacardium occidentale L.) belongs to familyAnacardiaceae. From its original home in North-East Brazil, it has spreadthroughout the tropics. Its cultivation is distributed from 27° North to27° South latitude. Cashew kernels are widely used in confectioneryand desserts. The shells contain oil known as Cashew Nut Shell Liquid(CNSL) used as a preservative in wood and other industries. Cashewnut is widely consumed in rich countries and gives valuable foreignexchange to the producer countries. Today consumers are ready topay premium price for organically grown products. Further, organiccultivation is economically and ecologically sustainable. Organic farmingis healthy both for the producer and the consumer.
The world’s total production of cashew is approximately 1.93 milliontons per annum. Cashew is produced in around 32 countries of theworld. The major cashew producing countries along with the productionfigures in 2005 are given in the table below.

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2. ClimateCashew
can be grown from sea level to an elevation up to 700 m. Ithas been cultivated at places receiving 600 to 4500 mm rainfall andtemperature ranging from 20-36°C (av. minimum of coldest month andav. maximum of hottest month).

3. High yielding varieties of India
About 40 high yielding cashew varieties have been released byvarious research centres in India. These varieties are reported to yield8-20 kg of cashew nut per plant per year. They could be classified asearly, mid and late season flowering varieties.

3.1. Varieties recommended for organic farming
Only mid and late season varieties are best suited for organicfarming. The reason being that in early season varieties the crops flushearly and this early flowering attracts maximum infestation of TeaMosquito Bug (TMB). During this period (November-January) the climateis cool and dew falls early in the morning followed by cloudy environmentresulting in mass multiplication of TMB, which causes maximumdamage to the flowers. Mid and late season (February-April) varietiesescape this menace. Due to increased temperature during floweringand fruiting in mid and late varieties, TMB population comes down therebythe crop damage by the pest is minimum or nil. However, under extremechanges in weather conditions favourable to sudden out break of TMB,its control even with chemical means is difficult. Some of the mostpromising mid and late flowering varieties released are given below.

3.2. Mid season flowering varieties
i)Bhaskara
ii)VTH 174
iii)Dhana (H-1608)
iv)Dharashree (H-3-17)
v) Amrutha (H-1597)
vi)Priyanka (H-1591)
vii)BPP-8
viii)V-4
ix)V-7

3.3. Late season flowering varieties
i)Ullal-1
ii)Chinthamani-1
iii)Madakkatara-2 (NDR-2-1)

3.4. Procedure for the selection of high yielding varieties
Most of the Varieties released by the research stations are nothingbut selections. An innovative observant farmer can also make his ownselection. Once selection is made, a name could be given foridentification. Further multiplication should be done by vegetative methodsviz., grafting or air layering. Following criteria should be adopted whileselecting a high yielder.

i) The plant should be fast growing and have a spreading nature.
ii) It should give 10-30 flower panicles per square meter canopyarea. Higher the number of flower panicles, more is the yieldpotentiality.
iii) The male flowers should be 200-300 per bunch and should have40-80 bisexual flowers in it (Fig. 1). Higher the number of bisexualflowers, more will be the ultimate yield.
iv) The mean weight of the nut should be 7-9 gms.
v) The tree should start flowering in the mid season (Jan-Feb) orlate in the season (Feb-Mar) to escape the attack of TMB. Further,the flowering season should be as short as possible(1-3 months).


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Fig. 1: A flower bunch of cashew showing male and bisexual flowers (inset)

vi) The tree should be resistant to pest and disease attack.vii) The kernel yield should be more than 28 percent of the total nutweight.
viii) A well matured tree (15 years and above) should give 15-25 kgnut yield. On rare occasions a single tree yielding 50-60 kg mayalso be seen.
ix) When early selection method is adopted, tree of about 8 yearsshould yield more than 10 kg.