Vanilla planting procedures and production techniques

The Botanical name of VANILLA Is Vanilla planifolia; it belongs to the family Orchidaceae

Varieties: No named varieties

Soil and Climate: Vanilla can be grown in adopted wide range of soil types. Soils rich in humus and having good drainage found to be ideal. Well in humid tropic climate with an annual rainfall of 150 – 300 cms.

Elevation : 700 – 1500 metres MSL.

Latitude : 10 and 20 north and south respectively.

Temperature : 210C – 320C.
The rainfall should be well distributed for a period of 9 months and dry period of 3 months for flowering are essential.

Season :
Standards : Glyricidia sp
Erythrina indica
Jatropha curcus
Plumeria alba
Casuarina equisitifolia
Planting during on-set of rain after summer during May and June.
Planting of vanilla cuttings 6 months after planting standards (i.e.) September – October – November.

Method of propagation: Stem cuttings (90 - 100 cm long)

Spacing within rows 1.2 – 1.5 m.
Between rows 2.0 to 2.5 mts.
Population 1600 – 2000 plants / ha.
1.5 x 1.5 m in hills of the standards

Pit size 30 x 30 x 30 cms for standards and for planting of vanilla cuttings.
Cuttings of 60 – 120 cms long unrooted were selected.
Cuttings should be planted with 2 nodes below soil surface.
Cuttings less than 60 cm after collection should be washed and dipped in 1 % BM or 0.2% COC.
Then cuttings are stored in 2 – 3 days under shade for partial moisture loss and raised in nursery, of shown sprouting within 4 to 8 weeks.

Training: Upward growing vines on the tree rarely blooms. For easy operations including pollination the vines are allowed to grow to a height of 1.2 to 1.5 m and then trained horizontally or allowed to grow downward towards the ground. Horizontally trained vines are coiled round
the pole connecting the two supporting trees and vines trained to grow downward is allowed to touch the soil and allowed to root and again brought back upward on the same supporting tree and the same procedure is repeated.

Manuring: Decomposed mulch is the main source of nutrients to Vanilla. Pruned vegetation must be dropped and applied as mulch. It is applied 2 to 3 times in a year.
Recommended dose of fertilizers: 40 – 60 gms of N + 20 – 30 gms of P + 60 – 100 gms of K per vine per year. It is given in 2 to 3 splits. Vanilla responds well for foliar feeding.
1% solution of 17 : 17 : 17 NPK mixture can be sprayed once in a month for boosting growth and flower production.

Flowering and pollinations: Vanilla usually starts flowering in the third year of planting. Vanilla flowers during December – January. Pinching of top 7.5 – 10 cm of vine 6 – 8 months before flowering seasons encourages flower bud initiations. Similarly pruning of older fruiting branches also encourages flower productions.
Each inflorescence consists of 15 – 20 flowers. The artificial pollination is useful in vanilla and pollination must be done on the same day as flowers opening from 4.00 am to 1.00 pm.
About to 10 to 20 inflorescence may be pollinated in a vine. Normally 5 to 6 flowers in the lower side of inflorescence pollinated. Hand pollination using a needle or a piece of pointed wood or a tooth pick to lift the hood covering the anther cap. The standards are brought it in to contact with stigma. A skilled worker can pollinate 1000 – 1500 flowers in a day.

Plant protections against Pest
i. Leaf eating beetles and caterpillars can be controlled by spraying quinolphos 0.05 %.
ii. Feeding bugs are controlled by quinolphos 0.05% or endosulfan 0.05%.

Protection against Diseases
Fusarium wilt: Infection starts in the axil of the leaf and spread to nodal region resulting in rot.
To control this spraying and drenching of 0.1% Carbendazim. Addition of organics also reduces the intensity of the disease.
Phytophthora rot: It causes rotting of beans, leaves and stems. Spraying Bordeaux mixture 1% and drenching COC 0.2% is effective.
Sclerotium rot: It occurs in root tips and latter extends to whole root system followed by yellowing and wilting of vines. To control this drenching of Carbendazim 0.1% is effective.
Shoot tip rot and Sclerotium rot: As in root rot drenching of Carbendazim 0.1% is effective.

Harvesting: The pods are ready for harvest 6 to 9 months after flowering. The matured beans change colour from green to pale yellow. The right picking stage is when the distal end of the pod turns yellow. Daily picking of matured pod is essential. The pods harvested by cutting with a knife.

Yield: Average cured beans yield / ha / year is 300 to 600 kgs. 6 kg of green pods produces 1 kg of cured beans. The economic life of vine is 12 – 14 years.

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