The common chewing nut, also known as betel nut or Supari, comes from the arecanut palm. It is widely used and closely associated with religious practises in India, where it is used by substantial segments of the population. The major consumer and producer of arecanuts respectively are both in India. Karnataka (40%) Kerala (25%), Assam (20%), Tamil Nadu, Meghalaya, and West Bengal are the major states that grow this crop.
Arecanut farming is primarily restricted to the 28o north and south of the equator. Temperatures below 10oC and above 40oC have a negative impact on its ability to grow, whereas it thrives between 14oC and 36oC. Extreme temperature ranges and significant daily changes are not favourable for the healthy development of palm trees. In Karnataka, arecanut can be grown in locations with annual rainfall ranging from 750 mm in the Maidan regions to 4,500 mm in the Malnad regions. The palms are watered in locations that have experienced a protracted dry period. At an altitude of more than 1000 m MSL, an arecanut crop cannot be produced because to its sensitivity to low temperatures.
Red clay gravelly laterite soils contain the majority of the cropped area. It may also be cultivated on rich clay loam soils. The cultivation of arecanuts should not be done on sandy, alluvial, brackish, or calcareous soils.
Raising of Seedlings
Arecanuts can only be multiplied from seeds. The selection and raising of arecanut seedlings involves four steps: choosing mother palms, choosing seed nuts, germination and seedling care, and finally choosing seedlings.
Selection of mother palm
Early bearing, regular bearing behaviour, a high level of fruit set, a lot of leaves on the crown, and shorter internodes are the requirements for mother palm selection.
Selection of seed nut
It is best to use fully ripened nuts that weigh more than 35 g. When permitted to float on water, the chosen nuts should do so vertically with the calyx end pointing up. These nuts result in seedlings with more vitality.
Selecting Suitable Farmland for Arecanut Plantation
To ensure successful Arecanut cultivation in Sakleshpur, farmers must carefully select suitable farmland based on specific criteria.
The crop grows best in moist environments that are well shielded from the sun's heat and strong winds. Because the areca palm cannot endure either water logging or drought, the location should have good drainage and a sufficient supply of water for irrigation. Extreme temperatures and direct sun exposure are not healthy for arecanut palms. In this way, the site that was chosen ought to be shielded from the south and the west. The depth of the water table and the depth of the soil are two more factors to take into account while choosing a location. The water table must be sufficiently low and the soil depth should be deep (ideally not less than two metres) for optimal root growth. The incidence of sunburn is reduced by lining up the rows with a 35-degree deviation to the south-west of the horizontal.
This is dependent on the crop's roots structure, soil quality, and depth. According to research done in various locations with varying spacing, an ideal arecanut spacing is 2.7 m X 2.7 m.
Depth of planting
Deep planting is favoured in fields with suitable drainage and in soils with good drainage. A more solid anchorage and more space for root growth are provided by deeper planting. Shallow planting is preferred in locations with high water tables. Thus, planting at a depth of 90 cm is advised in well-drained soils, whereas planting at a depth of 60 cm is advised in heavy soils.
Season of planting
The ideal season for planting Arecanut in managed farmland in Sakleshpur is the monsoon season, specifically between September-October is recommended, In areas where South-West monsoon is severe. In other areas planting can also be done in the months of May-June.
A healthy drainage system is crucial for the growth and development of plants. The soil type affects the number of drainage channels. In heavy soils , channels should be excavated in every row for adequate drainage of the excess water, whereas fewer channels may be necessary in light soils. The depth of the channels should be at least 15 to 30 cm greater than the depth at which the seedlings are sown.
The palms are quite vulnerable to sunburn. The young plants should be shielded from the sun's direct rays. Alternatively, you might grow crops like bananas between two rows of arecanut trees or cover the plants with areca or coconut leaves. Most sunburns occur between October and January. Even the immature palm trees' stems need to be protected during this time. On the southern and western edges of the garden, a fast-growing shade plant might be planted for this purpose.
Nutrient Requirement It is advised to apply 12 kg each of green leaves and compost to each palm each year, along with 100 g N (220 g urea), 40 g P2O5 (200 g rock phosphate), and 140 g K2O (235 g muriate of potash). In two separate applications, the fertilisers are to be used. Two thirds of the fertiliser are applied along with the organics in September–October, with the remaining one third applied in May–June. Fertiliser is applied in basins 20 cm away from the base of the palm that have been dug to a depth of 15-20 cm and a radius of 0.5-1.0 m. The soil is rolled up after application and then covered with soil and organic debris.
Organic matter recycling
From one ha of areca garden, approximately 5.5 to 6.0 tonnes of garbage are produced annually. This works well as an all-natural source of nutrition for areca palms. But because these wastes are applied directly to the soil, they will take a long time to decompose and won't quickly satisfy the crop's nutrient needs. Because of this, these materials can be efficiently composted with earthworms and used as organic manure in areca gardens.
Arecanut cannot endure prolonged drought. Being a perennial crop, it may take two to three years for it to recover its usual vigour and productivity after being subjected to water stress. It happens frequently for palms to die from moisture stress. Throughout the entire season, irrigation intervals of 5 and 10 days were determined to be optimal. About 200 lit of water must be applied per palm/irrigation.
The majority of farmers experience water constraint in the summer, making it challenging to provide the necessary water to the palm trees. New irrigation techniques that can conserve water without hurting arecanut yield were tested to solve this issue. They are drip irrigation techniques and sprinklers. Both sprinkler irrigation and drip irrigation can reduce water use by 20% and 44%, respectively.
Arecanut based cropping systems
Arecanut is cultivated with spacing of 2.7 X 2.7 m provides ample scope for cultivation various annual by biennial and perennial crops in the inter spaces.
Banana, pepper, cocoa, elephant foot yam, citrus, betelvine, pineapple etc. were found suitable for inter/mixed cropping in arecanut. However, it is found that as the age of the garden advances, only few crops can be grown profitably as mixed crop viz., pepper, cocoa, banana, lime and betelvine