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New Bathua Cultivar: Pusa Green-a Weed to Wealth

Among green leafy vegetables, Chenopodium (Chenopodium album L.), commonly known as bathua grows as a weed and consumed as leafy vegetable. It is also known as pigweed or lamb’s quarters. It belongs to family Chenopodiaceae. It is not only very nutritive, but also, one of the cheapest leafy vegetables available in winter season. It is a rich of fibre and store house of vitamins such as vitamin A, vitamin C, folic acid and riboflavin as well as minerals such as iron, calcium and phosphorous. It is very useful for constipation and overcoming problem of anaemia. Its leaves can be used in fresh as well as dry forms for consumption as vegetable, as raita with curd, and for preparation of roti/ puri/ paranthaetc. with wheat flour. The green leaves of bathua can be used as fodder for animal. Bathua can be used as a potential food crop for diversification of agriculture to newer areas, environmental sustainability and for combating the nutritional deficiency in human being in many parts of the world. This underutilized crop does not require high inputs and can be easily grown on agriculturally marginal lands. Seeing the potential of Chenopodium as a cheap source of antioxidants and other nutrients, nutritionally rich and high yielding genotypes, Pusa Green with good quality components has been developed by Division of vegetable Science, ICAR-Indian Agricultural Research Institute, New Delhi.

About bathua varieties:

 Mostly wild bathua germplasm grown as weed are used for consumption. It is not grown commercially as leafy vegetables. Earlier Pusa Bathua-1 with reddish green leaves was developed from Division of Vegetable Science, ICAR-Indian Agricultural Research Institute, New Delhi. But it was notified. Therefore, the new variety Pusa Green which has been released and notified can be grown commercially in future.

Pusa Green: This is a multi-cut variety with large size and dark green leaves developed by Division of Vegetable Science, ICAR-Indian Agricultural Research Institute, New Delhi in the year 2016.This variety has been notified with central variety release committee, No.3-69/2018-SD-lV Dated: 2Oth December, 2018for cultivation in NCT Delhi. It gives leaf yield of 36.8 t/ha. It is suitable for both direct sowing in October and transplanting in November. Plant growth is luxuriant Leaves are smooth and attractive dark green in colour with medium lobbing and serration. The leaves are big in size having 18 cm length and 9 cm width. It recorded high total carotenoids (91.31 mg/100g), iron content (7.6 mg/100g), dry matter 13% and ascorbid acid (50mg/100g) on fresh weight basis. It is late bolting in nature and less attacked by diseases and insects.

Crop production

Climate

It is a cool season crop and fairly tolerant to frost. At high temperature early flowering takes place.

Soil

It can be grown on a variety of soils but sandy loam or loam soils are best suited than heavier soils. It is a moderately salt tolerant and can also be grown successfully in saline-sodic soils. It responds well to farm yard manures.

Seed rate

1.5-2.0 kg seed are required for direct sowing,however; 450 g seed is sufficient for raising nursery for transplanting one-hectare field. Treat the seeds with Thiram @ 3g/kg of seed. For direct sowing seed is mixed with sand and broadcasted in field as it is very small in size.

Sowing

It can be sown in the month of October-November. The seed being very small should be sown not more than 3 mm deep in the soil. The seed is either sown directly in the main field or transplanted after raising nursery. For direct sowing, it is sown in main field in rows 30 cm apart in proper soil moisture. 35 days old seedlings raised in the nursery bed are transplanted at spacing of 30 cm between rows and 20 cm between plants. Immediately after sowing or before transplanting, pendimethalin @3.5 litre should be applied on ground in 500 litre water solution to control pre-emergence weeds.

Manure and fertilizers

A basal dose of 25-30 tonnes of farmyard manure per hectare should be incorporated in the soil at the time of preparation of land. Application of nitrogen fertilizer is the foremost requirement for leafy growth. N: P: K @ 80:50:50 kg/ha should be applied. It is advantageous to apply 50-60 kg urea per hectare as top-dressing in three split doses after first, second and third cuttings of the leaves. Apply 1% urea and 0.5% micronutrients solution (multiplex) after each cutting for quick growth of leaves.

Irrigation

One light irrigation is given immediately after transplanting the seedlings in case the crop is raised by transplanting method. This crop requires less irrigation. However light irrigation should be given in 10-12 days interval.

Intercultural operation

Two to three weeding or hoeing are required to keep the crop free of weeds i.e. 30, 45 and 60 days after sowing/transplanting.

Harvesting

First harvest is available 40-45 days after seed sowing or transplanting. Subsequent cuttings can be done at about 20 days interval and 4-6 cuttings are possible till the crop starts flowering when the leaves become unfit for consumption.

Yield

Average35 t/ha green leaves are harvested.

Plant protection

No serious insect-pest is observed. However, aphids may sometimes cause damage and can be controlled by spraying of malathion @ 2 ml/litre of water. Spray 5% neem seed kernel extract after cutting to keep insects away from crop.

Seed Production

Bathua or Chenopodiumis cross-pollinated crop where pollination is done by wind. Isolation is required from wild and other cultivars of chenopods during flowering for quality and pure seed productionto avoid contamination caused by pollen. Quality seed production requires proper planning, impeccable timing, technical expertise and strict quality control. Isolation is made to prevent contamination by cross-pollination with a different variety of same crop, and also to prevent mechanical mixing of the seed during harvest. Isolation distance for foundation and certified seed production of Chenopodium is 1600m and 1000m respectively. The seed crop of this variety must be raised through transplanting.400-500g seed is required for raising nursery on raised bedfor transplanting one-hectare area in the month of October. In the nursery, seed should be sown in rows at 2-3 mm depth and 35-40 days old seedlings with 3-4 leaves having 10 cm height are ready for transplanting.  The seedlings are transplanted at a spacing of 60 cm x 45cm. About 20-25 tonnes of farmyard manure along with 50 kg nitrogen, 50 kg phosphorus and 50 kg potash are applied to the soil at the time of field preparation. Two leaf cuttings are generally taken after 45 and 60 days of transplanting and after that it is left for seed production. An additional dose of 20 kg nitrogen/ha should be applied after each cutting. Rogueing should be done for off-type plants, plants of other varieties, volunteer plants, weeds and diseased plants.

All early bolters and crossable plants should be removed from seed production field. A minimum of three field inspections should be made for rogueing at pre-flowering, flowering and post-flowering stages. Regular supervision of seed production fields by trained personnel is required. The seed crop should be harvested at right stage of maturity. It is normally ready for harvesting in the month of May in 150-180 days after transplanting. It is threshed by beating with sticks or by mechanical thrasher. Seeds are cleaned by winnowing. Seeds must be dried properly to 8% moisture level and packaged in moisture pervious or proof packaging. A good crop may yield upto 6-7 quintal seed per hectare.

For further interaction, please write to:

Dr.R. K. Yadav* (Principal Scientist), Dr. B.S. Tomar (Head &Principal Scientist), Division of Vegetable Science, ICAR-Indian Agricultural Research Institute, Pusa New Delhi-110012.


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