Do you know ashwagandha root has been used in ayurvedic medicine for at least 1,500 years? This herb also known as Indian Ginseng belongs to the Solanaceae family and is known to have several medicinal benefits.
Moreover, this traditional medicinal herb has a proven record of boosting immunity and fighting signs of extreme diseases.
Let’s know in detail what Ashwagandha plant is and how we can cultivate it in the drought-tolerant yet dry regions.
What is Ashwagandha Plant?
Ashwagandha is a tropical shrub that grows particularly in Asia and Africa. Furthermore, the shrub has ample medicinal properties that help relieve stress and anxiety.
We can use the herb to treat symptoms of:
Here are following ways how organic Ashwagandha helps human body:
- Relieves stress and anxiety.
- Lowers blood sugar and fat.
- Increases muscle strength.
- Boosts fertility.
- Sharpens focus and memory.
- Supports heart health.
- Enhances athletic performance.
Technical Factors to Sow, Grow & Harvest Quality Ashwagandha
Now you know uses of ashwagandha, here are a few factors or considerations to keep in mind while performing ashwagandha farming in India.
1. Soil Requirements
This medicinal plant gives the best results when cultivated in mild red soil or sandy loam, black or heavy soils. Soil with ph levels between 7.5 to 8 with good drainage properties is highly recommended for this farming type.
Moreover, the soil needs to be well-drained, loose and deep. Also, this plant cannot grow and thrive in soil that can hold moisture and lead to waterlogging.
2. Agro-weather Conditions
This crop is highly tolerant to temperatures ranging between 20-38 degree Celsius. While it can also sustain temperatures as low as 10 degree Celsius. Moreover, the crop requires dry climatic conditions during its growing season. And since this is commonly a rain-fed crop, the annual rainfall should be between 500-750 mm.
Being a hardy and drought-tolerant crop, the plant grows at an altitude of 1500 metres above sea level.
3. Land Preparation
Before sowing or planting, the soil should be well-pulverised via ploughing or harrowing. Furthermore, prior to the onset of the monsoon, 2-3 ploughing should be planned until it reaches fine tilth.
Moreover, the soil needs mixing with well-decomposed organic matter while preparing the land for better fertility. While performing the last ploughing, toss the soil in 10-20 tonnes of farmyard manure.
Now you know how to prepare land, now let’s discuss how to plant ashwagandha seeds for better germination.
4. Seeding and Planting of Ashwagandha Plant
Prior to sowing seeds, it is important to remove the soil and mix it with an organic fertiliser in the combination of:
- 50% soil
- 20% peat moss
- 30% vermicompost
After completing this process, water the soil to keep it moist. Furthermore, sprinkle the seeds with water and cover them with soil, wet newspaper or tissue paper.
Within the interval of every two days, keep checking the soil and ensure it is moist. If you see that it is getting dry, then sprinkle some water. Moreover, the seeds will germinate within a week or 10 days of sowing.
- A seed rate of 10-12 kg per hectare is suitable for sowing in the line method. The line method helps increase root production and maximise intercultural tasks.
- The seeds are sown about 1-3 cm deep.
- The plant-to-plant distance should be 8-10 cm while the line-to-line distance should be between 20-25 cm. (However, the distance and spacing can vary depending on soil fertility).
- The ideal time for sowing is between June to July.
Moreover, the seeding rate can be 20-35 kg per hectare for rainfed areas. Some areas also practise line sowing and raised bed sowing methods. However, some areas also prefer transplanting. So, the transplanting of 25-35 days seeds is suitable with a depth of 1-3 cm.
5. Fertiliser and Manure
For fertilising the crop, organic methods of mulching, composting, bio-fertilisers help with healthy crop growth. Moreover, vermicomposting is another traditional method of providing essential nutrients to the soil.
This medicinal crop doesn’t need a high concentration of fertilisers and manures. Moreover, organic manure, including farmyard manure, green manure and vermicompost, is useful for growing quality herbs.
For high-quality yield, N:P:K in the following quantity per hectare is highly preferable:
- 15 kg Nitrogen
- 25 kg Phosphorus
- 10-15 tonnes organic manure
Moreover, chemicals and fertilisers aren’t necessary for the growth of this crop. Additionally, organic manures as following are suitable for growing different species of this medicinal plant:
- FYM (farmyard manure)
- Green Manure
To prevent diseases, bio-pesticides as following are highly recommended:
- Cow’s urine
6. Irrigation Requirements
Ashwagandha is a rain-fed crop and generally doesn’t require an irrigation system. However, well-regulated irrigation systems must be installed for the irrigated crop kind.
Moreover, excess rainfall or irrigation is detrimental to this crop’s growth. So, this crop should be sown where monsoon is distributed throughout the year. The crop needs irrigation for 15 days, depending on the soil type.
The first irrigation is done 30-35 days after the germination stage, and the second germination is done after 60-70 days of the first irrigation.
Furthermore, layering the seeds with organic muscles of ashwagandha straws and wheat straws can help-
- Facilitate water infiltration.
- Conserve soil moisture.
- Control the growth of weeds.
7. Harvesting of Ashwagandha
After 150-180 days, when the leaves become dry and berries turn red to orange, this herb is ready to harvest. For harvesting, we can use a power tiller or country plough to uproot the whole plant manually. Stay cautious while uprooting to ensure there is no damage to the plant. Moreover, make sure the soil has some moisture while performing this step.
Once the process is complete, the roots and berries are separated for final consumption. Furthermore, roots are washed and cut into the size of 7-10 cm. Whereas berries are further crushed to extract the seeds.
8. Post Harvesting
After completing the harvesting process, grading is the next step. In addition, the root pieces are collected within tin containers for commercial trading. They say, “the higher the length of root pieces are, the higher the price margin they will attract”.
Top Ashwagandha Producing States in India
This medicinal crop is suitable for cultivation in dry areas of subtropical regions. Here are a few popular states that have ideal weather conditions, land area and other agri-resources to grow this miraculous crop:
- Uttar Pradesh
- Madhya Pradesh
How to Control Weeds in Ashwagandha Farming?
Ideally, two weedings are evident to keep the field protected from weeds.
- The first one is done in about 20-25 days of sowing.
- While the second is done 20-25 days after the first weeding.
You can apply Glyphosate 600g/acre and isoproturon 200g/acre to prevent the growth of weeds.
How to Control Pests & Diseases in Ashwagandha?
The best thing is that this crop isn’t vulnerable to serious pests. But in the case of insects, spraying a Neem Astra at intervals every 10 days is highly helpful in fighting against insects, mites, and aphids.
Seedling rot and blight are very common in these plants. Moreover, Seedling mortality becomes intense if the plant gets extreme humidity and weather conditions.
Furthermore, to avoid such diseases, the best would be to give proper seed treatment or sow only disease-free seeds. Additionally, Neem cake is ideal for treating root damage due to insects or nematodes. Additionally, crop rotation, followed by well-timed sowing and soil drainage can help avoid these diseases or infestations.
Ashwagandha is a medicinal plant that helps boost the immune system and protects the body from various illnesses. Being a hardy, drought-tolerant plant it is easy to cultivate in dry regions.
By following above practices in said manner, farmers can easily grow this crop and gain average yield of 3 – 6 Quintals dry root/hectare and seeds up to 60 to 75 Kg.
Frequently Asked Questions
Ques. Which are the top Ashwagandha producing states in India?
Ans. Rajasthan, Punjab, Haryana, Gujarat, Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh and Maharashtra are leading Ashwagandha producing states of the country.
Ques. Can ashwagandha be grown hydroponically?
Ans. With enriched bioactive, it is possible now to grow these medicinal crops hydroponically.
Ques. How long does it take to grow ashwagandha?
Ans. Ashwagandha crop matures in about 160-180 days after sowing is complete.
Ques. What are the types of ashwagandha plants?
Ans. There are almost 40 varieties of Ashwagandha plants studied and identified.
Ques. How to take care of ashwagandha plant?
Ans. To ensure healthy growth of ashwagandha plants, ensure balanced watering, organic manuring and use of optimum quality farm mechanisation solutions.
Ques. Is ashwagandha farming profitable?
Ans. Yes Ashwagandha cultivation in India can give sustainable yield if proper farming factors are adopted and best farm mechanisation solutions are adopted.
Ques. Where is ashwagandha plant found in India?
Ans. Ashwagandha is majorly produced in Punjab, Rajasthan, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh, Maharashtra, Gujarat and Madhya Pradesh.
Ques. What is the botanical name of ashwagandha?
Ans. Withania somnifera is the botanical name of ashwagandha.
Ques. What are the benefits of ashwagandha powder?
Ans. Ashwagandha plant helps relieve stress and anxiety. Moreover, it aids mental health and boosts athletic performance.
Ques. How ashwagandha tea helps?
Ans. Ashwagandha plant has chemicals that help calm the brain, lower blood pressure, reduce swelling, and preserve the immune system. The herb is used as an adaptogen that relieves physical and mental stress related symptoms.
Ques. How to identify ashwagandha plant in India?
Ans. To identify ashwagandha plant also known as Withania somnifera, look for a small evergreen shrub that is short and has bell flowers and velvety leaves. The flowers contain orange berries that look identical to small tomatoes.
Ques. How much is the ashwagandha production per hectare?
Ans. The average production or yield per hectare for roots is 450 to 500 kg and while for seeds, it is 50 kg.
Ques. Can you eat ashwagandha fruit?
Ans. The Ashwagandha fruits are edible. Moreover, after drying, they make good source tea and medicinal supplements.
Ques. What are ashwagandha plant uses?
Ans. Ashwagandha plant is used to calm the brain, lower blood pressure, reduce swelling and protect immune system from any diseases.