Introduction of Spinach farming: – Spinach is one of the perennial leafy vegetable and grown throughout the world. Spinach has an excellent nutrition values and health benefits. Farmers can grow this crop in greenhouse, poly house and hydroponic system as well. Spinach can be gown for daily use in pots, containers, back yards. Spinach belongs to the family of “Amaranthaceous” and genus of Spinach. Spinach is thought to have originated in ancient Persia as a wild plant (modern Iran and neighboring countries). Spinach is native to central and western Asia. When it comes to the spinach plant characteristics, it is an annual plant and grows up to 30 cm tall in height. The spinach leaves are alternate. Simple, ovate to triangular and very variable in size from about 2 cm to 25 cm long and 1 cm to 4cm broad, with larger leaves at the base of the spinach plant and small leaves higher on the flowering stem of the plant. The spinach flowers are inconspicuous, yellowish-greenish, 3 mm to 4 mm in diameter, maturing into a small, hard, dry, lumpy fruit cluster 5 mm to 10 mm across containing several seeds. Following best farming methods and choosing right commercial/hybrid variety will be success factor in spinach farming.
Health benefits of spinach:• Spinach is rich vitamins and minerals.
• Spinach is good for digestion.
• Spinach boosts immune system.
• Spinach is regulates blood pressure.
• Spinach has anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidant properties.
• Spinach supports bone health due to calcium presence.
• Spinach is good for skin, hair and eyes.
• Spinach has anti-cancer properties.
• Spinach is good for brain health.
• Spinach is good for diabetic patients.
• Spinach is good for heart health due to omega-3 fatty acid presence.
• Spinach has anti-ageing properties.
• Spinach is excellent source of iron.
Top 10 producers of spinach in the world: – China, United States, Japan, Turkey, Indonesia, Iran, Pakistan, France, Korea and Belgium.
Major spinach production states in India: – The popular spinach/palak growing states include Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Karnataka, and Uttar/Pradesh. West Bengal, Maharashtra and Gujarat.
Local names of spinach in Asia: – Buutsai (Mongolian), Palak (Urdu), Sigeumchi (Korean), Palak (Nepali), Espinaca (Spanish), cay rau bina (Uzbek) (Arabic), spanak (Bulgarian), bo cai (Chinese), Mchicha (Filipino). Pak kohm(Thai), rau bina (Vietnamese), spenat (Swedish), ispanak (Turkish), Spenot (Hungarian), Bayam (Malay).
Local names of spinach in India: – Palak (Hindi), Palakura (Telugu), Pasalai Keerai (Tamil), Cheera (Malayalam), Palak (Gujarati), Paalak (Punabi), Palak (Manipuri), Palanga saga (Oriya), Palaeng Xaak (Assamese) Palak soppu, Basale soppu (Kannada) Palak (Marathi), Palong Shak (Bengali), Paalakh (Kashmiri).
Varieties of spinach: – There are many improved varieties available in Asia. However, it is very important to find out the suitable cultivar for your region. Contact local horticulture department for suitable cultivar.
Climate and soil requirements for spinach farming: – Although spinach beet is a winter season crop. It can be grown throughout the year under mild temperature conditions. The best part of it is, this leafy vegetable crop can tolerate frost better than other vegetable crops. Spinach crop also tolerates warm weather but high temperature leads to premature bolting without giving economic yield. However, sandy loam soils are most suitable for its cultivation. Although, spinach can tolerate slightly alkaline soils, the best yield and quality of greens can be expected in neutral soils having a ph of 6.0 to 7.5.
Land preparation in spinach farming: – The land or main field should be ploughed 5 to 6 times to make the soil soft and bring it to fine tilth stage. Make sure to level the land and remove the weeds from previous crops. After soil testing, micronutrients should be added in case of any deficiency soil nutrients. The beds and irrigated channels should be made.
Propagation in spinach farming: – Generally, propagation in spinach farming is done through seeds.
Seed treatment in spinach farming: – Spinach seed rate depends on crop season and variety of spinach grown. Generally, for winter crop, use 15 to 20 kg seeds/ha and for summer crop 30 to 40 kg/ha is required.
Sowing and spacing in spinach farming: – The main sowing season in plains is from last week of Aug to 2nd week of Nov month. In places with mild climate, it may grow throughout the year. In hilly regions, spinach is sown from March to May. To improve germination, seeds are soaked in water overnight before sowing. Sowing can be done either by broadcast method or by line sowing. Line sowing is more desirable as it facilities weeding, hoeing and harvesting. Line spacing should be maintained at 25 cm and thinning should be done to maintain plant spacing within lines at about 5 cm.
Manures and fertilizers in spinach farming: – As spinach is a leafy vegetable, its crop requires more nitrogen for crown growth. If you are going for commercial spinach farming, it is better go for soil testing and fertilizer should be applied based on the soil analysis. Usually 25 tones of well-rotten farmyard manure yard (FMY), along with 90 kg of ‘N’ and 30 kg of ‘P205’ /ha should be applied. It is advised to supplement the whole of farmyard manure and P205 and ½ (half) of ‘N’ dose at the time of land preparation. The remaining ½ (half) ‘N’ can be applied in 2 split doses, one after each cutting/harvesting followed by a light irrigation in the field.
Irrigation in spinach farming: – Irrigation in spinach farming should be given based on soil (moisture holding capacity) and climatic conditions. Irrigate the spinach plant field immediately after sowing the spinach seeds. Provide subsequent irrigations at an interval of 3 to 4 days during summer and 6 to 8 days during winter. However, rainy season crop does not require much irrigation.
Intercultural operations in spinach farming: – In spinach farming, hand weeding is essential to control weed apart from giving 3 to 4 hoeing. This process also helps in loosening the soil for proper aeration.
Pests and diseases in spinach farming: – Well, as spinach is a leafy vegetable, there can be many varieties of pests and disease can attack the spinach crop. The following are the common pests and disease found in spinach faming.
Anthracnose: Mall water-soaked spots on spinach leaves which enlarge and turn tan or brown in color with a papery texture; if infection is severe, lesions may coalesce and cause severe blighting.
Control measures: Only plant seed from disease free plants: avoid sprinker or overhead irrigation where possible.
Damping off & root rot: Poor germination rate of spinach seeds: death of newly emerged seedlings; stunted, yellow plants, particularly lower leaves; poor growth, wilting and collapse of older plants; roots may be water-soaked and discolored brown or black necrotic lesions may girdle tap roots.
Control measures: Plant spinach in well draining soils; carefully manage irrigation to avoid saturating soil; use seed that has been treated with fungicide; better to avoid planting spinach successively in the same land.
Downy mildew: Initial symptoms of the disease are yellow spots on cotyledons and leaves which enlarge over time and become tan in color with a dry texture; purple fungal growth is present on the underside of leaves; severe infestations can result in curled and distorted leaves.
Control measures: spinach varieties should be resistant to the disease; application of appropriate fungicides can help to protect the plant it applied before infection starts.
Fusarium wilt: Yellowing of older leaves; plants reaching maturity early; premature death of plant; reduced seed production or death of plant before seed production takes place; vascular system of older plants may have a dark discoloration; seedlings may develop symptoms similar to damping off where cotyledons wilt and seedling dies; black lesions may be present on roots.
Control measures: – Avoid planting spinach in soils known to be infested with fusarium. Planting early can help protect the seedlings from the disease due to lower soil temperatures which are less favorable to the pathogen; avoid water tress to plants during flowering and seed set.
White rust: – Yellow spots on upper side of leaves; dusters of white, blister-like pustules on underside of leaves which may spread to upper leaf surfaces in advanced stages of infection; infected plants show a loss of vigor and collapse if conditions are favorable to rapid disease development.
Control measures: – Some spinach varieties are more tolerant of the disease than others; where protective fungicide applications are used, appropriate cultural control methods should also be utilized to reduce the risk of the pathogen developing tolerance to fungicide.
Mosaic and other viruses: – Chlorotic leaves which may have necrotic spots, mosaic patterns or ring spots; leaves may be puckered and overall growth of plant is poor and stunted.
Control measures: Practice good weed management around the spinach plants; insecticide applications are generally not effective at preventing the disease but can prevent secondary spread to neighboring lands.
Aphids, Peach aphid, Potato aphid: – Small bodied insects on underside of spinach leaves which are usually green or yellow in color, but may be pink, brown red or black depending on species and host plant; if aphid infestation is heavy it may cause leaves to yellow, necrotic spots on leaves and/or stunted shoots; aphids secrete a sticky, sugary substance called honeydew which encourages the growth of sooty mold on the plants.
Control Measures: – If aphid population is limited to just a few spinach leaves or shoots then the infestation can be pruned out to provide control; check transplants for aphids before planting; use tolerant varieties if available.
Wire-worms:– If wireworms are known to be present in soil fallow field during summer and till frequently to reduce numbers; rotate to non-host crop where possible; avoid planting susceptible crops after a wireworm infestation on cereals without either fallowing of applying appropriate pesticide.
Harvesting in spinach farming: – Spinach will be ready for harvesting in an about 4 to 5 weeks after sowing of spinach seeds. Subsequent cutting should be taken at an interval of 20 to 24 days depending upon variety and season. It is recommended to harvest early in the morning because there is due on the crop. After harvesting spinach leaves should be washed off and trimmed. To market the spinach, the leaves should be graded and bunched based on quality.
Yield in spinach farming: – Well, crop yield depends on the variety and farm management practices. Usually, an average of 60 to 80 quintals of green leaves per hectare land can be expected in spinach farming.
Marketing in spinach farming: – Make the bundles and transport to local markets before they start producing seeds.