Organic production of Chilly Crops
Organic farming is a crop production method respecting the rules of the nature. It maximizes the use of on farm resources and minimizes the use of off-farm resources. It is a farming system that seeks to avoid the use of chemical fertilizers and pesticides. In organic farming, entire system i.e. plant, animal, soil, water and micro-organisms are to be protected.
Chilli requires a warm and humid climate for its best growth and dry weather during the maturation of fruits. A temperature ranging from 20-25°C is ideal for chilli. In chilli fruit development adversely affected at temperatures of 37°C or more. Heavy rainfall leads poor fruit set and in association with high humidity leads to rotting of fruits. High temperature & low relative humidity increases the transpiration during flowering resulting in shedding of buds, flowers and small fruits.
Land is prepared to a fine tilth by thorough ploughing / digging. Two to three ploughing are done to bring the soil to fine tilth. Stones and gravel are to be removed. In case of direct sowing, three to four ploughing are undertaken and sowing is done along with the last ploughing. The soil can be treated with Azatobacter or Azospirillum @ 1-1.25 kg mixed with 50 kg of FYM and broadcasted in the field. Farm Yard manure @ 4-6 t and 1-2 t of vermicompost can be added per acre.
Chilli is propagated by seeds. For raising nurseries, seeds of high yielding varieties with tolerance to pests and diseases may be used. They should be carefully selected from certified organic farms or from own seed plot which is raised organically. Seeds should not be treated with any chemical fungicides or pesticides.
BIOFERTILIZERS- Methods of Application:
SEED TREATMENT: Suspend 200 gm N biofertilizer and 200 gm Phosphotika in 300-400 ml of water and mix thoroughly. Mix this paste with 10 kg seeds & dry in shade. Sowing is done immediately.
SEEDLINGS ROOT DIP: 1 kg each of two biofertilizers is mixed in sufficient quantity of water. Dip the roots of seedlings in this suspension for 30-40 min before transplanting.
SOIL TREATMENT: Mix 4 kg each of biofertilizers in 200 kg of compost and leave it overnight. Apply this mixture in the soil at the time of sowing or planting.
However, it is always beneficial to adopt indigenous practices for seed treatment, wherever possible. The seeds may be treated with Trichoderma and Psuedomonas sp. @ 10 g per kg of seed to prevent incidence of seedling rot in the nursery. 400 g of seeds would be sufficient for raising nursery for transplantation in an area of acre. Biological seed treatment with antagonistic Pseudomonas fluorescens improves the seed quality parameters under laboratory conditions and drastically reduces the bacterial wilt incidence under field conditions.
Fresh seeds are sown in well prepared nursery beds. Although it can be sown by broadcast method in the main field, transplanting method is preferred for better quality and survival. The nursery bed is usually raised from ground level and is prepared by thorough mixing with compost and sand. Seeds treated with Trichoderma are sown and covered thinly using sand. The seeds germinate in 5-7 days and ready 40-45 days old seedlings for transplanting.
Seedlings are transplanted in shallow trenches / pits or on ridges / level lands. In some places, 60 x 60 cm or 45 x 30 cm or 30 x 30 cm spacing is also followed. However, a spacing of 60 x 30 cm with a plant population of about 22,200 seedlings per acre or 45 x 45 cm with a plant population of 19,750 per acre is considered optimum.
Organic manure such as farmyard manure is applied @ 4-6 t/acre. However, it is always advisable to use compost/farmyard manure from own farm rather than from outside the farm. Restriction of use of permitted mineral fertilizers under organic system can be done depending on requirement, on the basis of soil analysis. Use of bio-fertilizers can also be resorted to in combination with organic inputs.
Chilli can be cultivated organically as an inter crop or mixed crop under organic methods. It is desirable to include a leguminous crop in rotation with chilli. Generally two weeding/ hoeing are required to keep the field free from weeds, the first within 20-25 days of Transplanting and the other after 20-25 days of the first weeding/hoeing. Weeds which attract pests should be allowed to grow in the field to act as trap and removed before flowering.
THRIPS, APHIDS AND MITES MANAGEMENT:
Application of Neem Seed Kernel Extract (NSKE) should be done. 10 kg of Neem seed kernels may be boiled in 15 l of water. 200 ml of this extract may be mixed in 15 liter of water and four to five sprays may be given to control sucking pests. Farmers also use seed extracts of Bakaine (Melia azadirachta) along with Bichoo Grass (Urtica dioica) for control of pests. Release of larvae of Chrysoperla cornea, a bio control agent, once in 15 days is also helpful in controlling thrips and mites.
ROOT GRUB MANAGEMENT:
Useonly well rotten farmyard manure should be applied in the field. Application of neem cake @ 100 kg/acre is advisable for control of root grubs. To control the infestation of root grub, light traps can be laid out from March. Grass can be heaped at different places in the field and the grubs which accumulate in these heaps may be collected in the early morning and destroyed. 400 g/acre of Beauvaria bassiana may be broadcast in the field. Transplanting before first fortnight of April also helps in reducing the incidence of root grub.
These are the major pests which cause considerable damage to the crop. They can be managed to a certain extent by adoption of bio control measures like installation of pheromone traps in the field @ 5 no. per acre helps to monitor the adult moths. Ten days after spotting the moths in the traps, 4-5 spraying with Nuclear Polyhedrosis Virus (NPV) @ 200 LE (larval equivalent)/acre is beneficial to control the early larval stage of the pod borers. The egg masses of Spodoptera borer can be mechanically collected and destroyed. Trichogramma, an egg parasite, may be released two days after appearance of moths. Spraying of neem products like neem oil, neem seed kernel extract and restricted use of Bacillus thuringiensis @ 0.4 kg/acre are beneficial. All the shed fruits and part of inflorescence should be collected and destroyed at regular intervals.
Fruit rot & Die back caused by Colletotrichum capsici and bacterial wilt are the two major diseases of chilli. Bacterial leaf spot, powdery mildew and mosaic disease (caused by virus) are the major diseases of chilli. Careful seed selection and adoption of phytosanitary measures will check the diseases of chilli. Early removal of affected plants will control the spread of the diseases. Seed treatment with Trichoderma takes care of seedling rot in nursery. Varieties tolerant to diseases should be used wherever the disease is severe. Rouging and destruction of affected plants help in checking the mosaic virus. For effective disease control, 10 g of Trichoderma or Pseduomonas sp. per litre of water should be used for spraying.
HARVESTING and YIELD:
Dark green fruit should be plucked for preparing chilli pickle. For dry chilli and for making chilli powder, picking should be done when the fruit is dark red. Ripe fruits are to be harvested at frequent intervals. Retaining fruits for a long period on the plants causes wrinkles and color fading. About 5-6 pickings are made for dry chilli and 8-10 pickings for green chilli.
The yield of fresh chilli varies from 30-40 q/acre depending on variety and growing conditions. Out of 100 kg of fresh fruits 25-35 kg of dried fruits may be obtained. The yield of dry chilli is expected to be in the range 7.5 to 10 q/acre.
PACKING STORAGE, PROCESSING and LABELLING:
For packaging, recycled and reusable materials like clean jute bags, shall be used. Use of bio degradable materials shall also be used. Unnecessary packaging material should be avoided. Organic and non-organic products shall not be stored and transported together.
Care should be taken to stack the bags at 50 –60 cm away from the wall. Storing chilli for longer periods may lead to deterioration. However, if cold storage facilities are used, the product may be stored for 8-10 months.
Processing technologies like solar drying, freeze drying, hot air chambers are permitted. Irradiation of agricultural produce is not permitted. No synthetic additives / dyes are to be added during processing. Processed products such as dehydrated chilli, pickle, powder, paste, sauce, etc., can be prepared for higher returns. Almost all chilli growers sell it directly. The farmers will be in a position to get better returns by value addition in the form of processed products. Hence, farmers must be educated in the processing of chilli.
The label should convey clear accurate information on the organic status of the product (i.e., conversion in progress or organic). The labels for organic and conversion in progress products should be distinguishable by different coloured labels. The details like name of the product, quantity of the product, name and address of the producer, name of certification agency, certification, lot number, etc. are to be given in the label.
Certification of organic farms is required to satisfy the consumers that the produce is totally organic. The Certification agency conducts inspection to ensure that the minimum requirements prescribed for organic agriculture is fully met and based on those issues the certificate. The producer makes contact with certifying agency. Certification agency provides information on standards, fees, application, inspection, certification and appeal procedures. The producer then submits application along with field history, farm map, record keeping system etc. Then the Inspector of agency comes and carries out inspection. The Inspector gives inspection report with his recommendation to the agency, then the agency issues approval or denial of certificate. Certificate is given for current year's harvest only and hence annual certification is required.
Lalu Prasad yadav Senior scientist