The Tamarind : Sweet and sour in taste!!
Tamarind (Tamarindus indica) is an import tree of semi-arid tropical conditions, is a long-lived tree. Every part of the plant is used for different purposes. The tamarind tree produces edible, pod-like fruit which is used extensively in cuisines around the world. Other uses include traditional medicine and metal polish. The wood can be used in carpentry. Because of the tamarind’s many uses, cultivation has spread the world in tropical and subtropical zones. The tamarind is a long-lived, medium-growth plant. Fruit tastes sweet and fleshy.
MAINTENANCE OF PLANTATION
It is hardy tree and grows very well even without irrigation. At initial stage, irrigation is required to establish the young plant. Once established, irrigation is not mandatory to produce fruits. Irrigation during summer improves fruit size and yield. Tamarinds tolerate a great diversity of soil types but do best in deep, well drained soils which are slightly acid. Trees will not tolerate cold, wet soils but are tolerant of salt spray and can be planted fairly near the seashore.
The tamarind is not very demanding in its nutritional requirements. Young trees should be fertilized every 2 – 3 months with a 6-6-3 NPK or similar analysis fertilizer. Apply 1/4 lb. and gradually increase to about 1/2 lb. Thereafter, young trees should receive 1/2 lb. per application, per year of tree age, 3 – 4 times a year. Bearing trees can be fertilized with 8-3-9 NPK or similar analysis, at rates of about 1/2 lb. per application per year of tree age. Microelements, particularly iron may be required for trees in alkaline soils.
TRAINING AND PRUNING
Training is essential at initial stage to provide better frame work. As avenue plant, the tree trunk is kept clean up to 34 m height and then branches are allowed in all directions. It does not require regular pruning to produce fruits. Pithecellobium tree has fast growth rate and vigorous coppicing capacity and therefore can withstand any amount of pruning, lopping or browsing by animals. For hedge regular pruning is necessary.
PESTS AND DISEASE CONTROL
Manilla tamarind generally remains free from pests and diseases. However a number of defoliating and boring insect pests have been reported. Shoot hole borer cause damage by making holes in the trunk which can be controlled by plugging cotton swabs soaked in petrol/kerosene. It is favourite host for thorn bug (N.A.S. 1980). It has also been
reported to be a host for lac insects. Plants are severely affected by leaf spot diseases. These can be managed by spray of fungicides. Trees are also affected by mosaic virus witches broom.
HARVEST YOUR TAMARIND
Tamarind fruits mature in late spring to early summer. They may be left on the tree for as long as 6 months after maturity so that the moisture content will be reduced to 20% or lower. Fruits for immediate processing are often harvested by pulling the pod away from the stalk. Mature trees are capable of producing 350 lb. of fruit a year. Ripe fruit in humid climates is readily attacked by beetles and fungi, so mature fruit should be harvested and stored under refrigeration.
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