Water Chestnut Fruit Farming
Contents in this Post
- Water Chestnut Fruit Farming
- Introduction of Water Chestnut Fruit Farming
- How Can Water Chestnut Fruit Farming?
- Pests and Diseases in Water Chestnut Fruit Farming
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Introduction of Water Chestnut Fruit Farming
- Water chestnut is one of the most important minor fruit crops grown in India.
- It is an aquatic nut crop grown mainly in the tropical and sub-tropical region as submersed plant community.
- It also thrives in the soft nutrient-rich waters in lakes, ponds, and streams with a neutral to slightly alkaline ph.
- The plant is well adapted to life at the water’s edge and prospers even when stranded along muddy shores.
- In India, it is most commonly used as the edible nut.
- The kernel of water chestnut contains a large amount of protein (up to 20%), starch (52%), tannins (9.4%), fat (up to 1%), sugar (3%), minerals, etc. It is also a good source of fiber and vitamin B along with Ca, K, Fe, and Zn.
- The fruit is a woody or bony nut, about 3 cm wide, with two or four (1 cm long) stout spines or horns.
- Trapa bicornis is similar to Trapa natans but has two spines on the fruit instead of four.
- Each fruit contains a single seed.
- Seeds can remain viable up to 12 years, although most germinate within the first two years.
- The plant spreads by the rosettes and fruits detaching from the stem and floating to another area on Water chestnut plant.
Indian Names of Water Chestnut Fruit
- Trapa is derived from the Latin words of “thistle” and “calcitrappa”, calcitrappa is another common name for the water caltrop.
- The Chinese name is língjiao, líng meaning “caltrop” and jiao meaning “horn”.
- This is often rendered as ling nut by English-speakers.
- In India, the plant has different regional names, such as singhada, pani-phal in Hindi, or shingoda in Gujarati.
- This fruit’s Bengali name is Paniphal, Singda or Singara.
- Two most common Indian names are Paniphal and Singhara.
- The plant’s name in Japanese is hishi, a word meaning “diamond- or lozenge-shaped”.
- The most common type in India is Trapa bispinosa and the common type in China is Trapa bicornis.
- While the water chestnut seed has four horns, its edible relative Horn Nut has only two. Still, it is painful to step on though. Natans means floating.
- Bikornis means two horns. The seed is rich in carbs, fat, protein, sugar, and vitamins B1 , B2 , C, calcium, phosphorus, and iron.
- It has two types of leaves, finely divided, feather-like submerged leaves borne along the length of the stem, and undivided floating leaves borne in a rosette at the water’s surface.
- The floating leaves have saw-tooth edges and are ovoid or triangular in shape, 2–3 cm long, on inflated petioles 5–9 cm long, which provide added buoyancy for the leafy portion.
- Four-petalled white flowers are 8 mm long, from above the water surface in early summer and are insect-pollinated
Grown Areas of Water Chestnut Fruit Farming In India
- Singharas grow throughout the East of India: West Bengal, Jharkhand, and Bihar are examples of such regions.
- Bihar, in particular, cultivates the fruit extensively in its districts of Darbhanga, Madhubani, and Samastipur.
Nutritive and Medical Value of Water Chestnut Fruit
- It is a cooling food, ideal to counter summer heat.
- The juice relieves nausea and can improve the appetite.
- A paste of the seed helps to treat cracked heels.
- The acrid juice is used to control diarrhea and dysentery.
- Powdered singhara relieves a cough.
- The fruit reduces inflammation and may act as an aphrodisiac.
- Applied regularly, singhara seed powder, mixed with lemon juice, will help treat eczema.
- The nuts can be eaten raw, though they are usually boiled.
- When they are dried, they can be milled into a flour called singhara Atta,or chestnut flour, which is used to make Indian roti or flatbread.
- This flour is used to prepare foods for religious festivals, including Navratri.
- It is an allowed food during fasting days because it is not made of grain.
- The flour is also added to milk to make milk creamier and it can be used to make batter for deep-frying.
- In Fruit contains Low in fat, Cholesterol-free, Low in sodium, High in potassium, Rich in minerals.
- Also including calcium, iron, zinc, and phosphorus.
- Contains moderate amounts of fiber.
- Also a Good source of energy.
How Can Water Chestnut Fruit Farming?
- Water Chestnut Fruit is an aquatic plant and bears a rough, thick-skinned, not particularly good-looking fruit that has a single large white-colored seed inside.
- The plant is grown in ponds, marshes, and seasonal and perennial lakes.
- More than two-thirds of the plant remains submerged in the water.
- The upper leaves float on the surface of the water while the lower ones remain submerged just beneath the surface, giving a mat like an appearance to the water surface.
- The petioles or leaf stalks are swollen and contain air to help keep the upper leaves afloat.
- The plant has no primary roots, while the secondary adventitious roots are of two types.
- One type of root fixes the plant to the muddy substrate, while the other type floats free, being attached to the underside of the leaf base.
- These have photosynthetic activity as well.
- The flowers open above the water surface. After pollination, they submerge themselves so that the fruit can develop.
- Therefore, the fruit or singhara is always found under the leaves, and when it is mature, it drops off on its own and is fished out with the aid of a net.
- Propagation of the plant is commercially done by seeds.
- The fully mature nuts are placed in a container with little water to germinate the seeds.
- The sprouted seeds are sorted out and broadcast in the nursery tanks.
- At the beginning of the monsoon, the seedlings are lifted from the nursery tanks and planted in a pond, at a spacing of 1-2 meters or 2-3 meters when the soil of the pond is fertile.
Varieties of Water Chestnut Fruit in India
- No standard variety of water chestnut is relied on till now.
- Water Chestnut Fruit Farming start around the world as an ornamental water plant, and as such, it is likely to be found in farm dams, water features, and fish ponds, or in ponder and slow-moving water bodies near towns.
- But nuts with different husk color like green, red or purple and a blending of red and green color are recognized.
- Kanpuri, Jaunpuri, Desi Large, Desi Small etc. are the names of some types of water chestnuts referred to the growers in West Bengal and other parts of eastern India.
Growing Requirement in Water Chestnut Fruit Farming
- The singhara or water chestnut plant requires full sunlight for good growth, and water with a rich organic content but a low concentration of salts.
- On a larger scale, they are grown in flooded fields like rice.
- These fields are ideally located below a water source like a dam so that the water level can be maintained with a gravity flow.
- They can also be grown on dam and pond edges but only if the water level is controllable and stable.
- Water temperature of 12-150C is absolutely necessary for the fruit to germinate while 200C is required for the development of the flower.
- The temperature range throughout the year is dependent on continental climatic conditions.
- Like high temperature during spring and summer and low in winter is beneficial for the successful production of the crop.
- As it is an aquatic plant, soil does not play so much important role for its cultivation.
- But it is found that water chestnut gives better yield when the soil of the water bodies is rich, friable which is well manure or fertilize
- It is recommended that plants are first grown in a low nutrient nursery plot and transferred when stems are about 300 mm tall.
- This reduces the growth period in ponds by up to 6 weeks.
- Tops may be trim if they are too tall at transplanting. Care should be taken at the time of transplanting so that seedlings kept moist but not submerged.
Fertilizers and Nutrition requirements in Water Chestnut Fruit Farming
- Water Chestnut Fruit Farming requires some specific nutrient elements for better growth and development.
- Fertilizer with a moderate amount of poultry manure is very essential for higher yield.
- But it needs little application of phosphorus and potassium.
- It can thrive well under a pH range of 6 to 7.5
- Growers from different parts of the world use dolomite, a form of lime that contains magnesium to adjust pH is which one of the most important works during nutrient management practice.
- In West Bengal, application of 30-40 kg of urea in per ha area of the pond after about a month of transplanting and again after another 20 days is highly recommended.
Water supply/Irrigation in Water Chestnut Fruit Farming
- In Water Chestnut Fruit Farming irrigation is one of the most important operations and is critical for the success of a Water Chestnut.
- The soil should be kept flooded with 100 mm to 300 mm of water throughout the growing period.
- A greater depth of water is tolerated by the plants but they do not prosper.
- Water should drain off prior to harvesting.
- Reduction of water in the pond due to drought may create difficulty and in such case, it should be replenished with water from other sources.
- The luxuriant vegetative growth of the plant may result in a highly fertile condition of the medium with lower productivity of the plants and hence, mild pruning becomes necessary in such case.
- Regular eradication of aquatic weeds, especially, Hydrilla and Eicchornia is utmost important during the cropping season
Pests and Diseases in Water Chestnut Fruit Farming
- Water Chestnut Fruit drops seeds during winter.
- The seeds germinate in the mud during the warmer months and grow stems that reach the water surface and produce rosettes.
- A single seed may give rise to 10 to 15 rosettes. Each rosette can produce up to 15 to 20 seeds.
- The plant spreads when rosettes break allowing the fruits to detach from the stem and float away.
- The fruit can also be spread by birds and other animals.
- Seeds can remain viable for up to 12 years, although most will germinate in the first two years.
- If the fruit dries out they will not contain viable seeds.
Storage/Harvest in Water Chestnut Fruit Farming
- The flowering time of Water Chestnut Fruit varies from one place to other places.
- But in general, it flowers during July and August.
- During the summer months, the fruits develop at the basal portion of the rosettes
- In autumn the leaves change color from green to purple-brown, the rosettes dissolve and the fruits started to sink to the bottom of the lake or pond water and anchor with their thorns in the silty sediment.
- The cycle starts again in the following spring.
- the nut is usually done at the month of September and it is continued up to the month of November.
- For the purpose of harvesting, specially made rafts are used by the growers.
- In the southern part of West Bengal, the yield of fresh nut range between 2500-3800 kg per ha area of the pond.
- Which could be increased up to 5000 kg per ha by applying about 50 kg of urea per ha of the pond along with the eradication of weeds.
- The harvested kernel can be stored in the bottom of the fridge in sealed plastic bags or containers to prevent them from drying out.
- There are always a few that rot during storage and need to be sorted out from time to time.
- This rot is often due to even slight damage to the skin during harvesting and later handling.
- They keep quite well in the ground where they grew while the temperature stays low enough to maintain dormancy. Dried out kernel or ones that have been frozen will not grow.
- They also keep very well in cool damp sand. We can keep kernel under this condition for over a year for seed purpose.
- Water Chestnut Fruit is a floating aquatic plant that grows in slow-moving water up to 5 m deep, with its stems rooted in the soil beneath the water.
- Water Chestnut Fruit forms large populations that can create nearly impenetrable mats across wide areas of water, out-competing native plants and making waterways inaccessible.