How to Start Cashew Farming – Detailed Plantation Guide

Do you want to start cashew cultivation or plantation project? This article includes a detailed cashew farming business plan with variety, growing method, plant protection etc.

Basically, cashew is an export-oriented crop. You can grow cashew for nuts. It is highly delicious and nutritive. Therefore, it is popular as ‘wonder nut’. The scientific name of cashew is Anacardium occidentale L. And it belongs to the Anacardium family.

Cashew farming is a long-term project. It is highly profitable provided you grow it properly with a right marketing plan. In addition to that, cashew plantation project demands an adequate amount of land for cultivation. So, if you have agricultural land and you want to go for a plantation project, then cashew farming is just perfect for you.

Economic Importance of Cashew Farming

First of all, cashew nut is important confectionery items. Finely chopped kernels are used in the production of sweets, ice cream, cake and chocolates, both at home and industrially and as paste to spread on bread. Additionally, it is an essential ingredient in various kinds of dishes. The kernel oil of pale yellow color is used in pharmaceutical and cosmetic industries.

Cashew nut shell liquid (CNSL) extracted from its shell has many industrial applications. It is an important raw material in making paints, resins, flame retardants, etc. The testa covering the kernel, rich in tannin is used in the leather industry. The cashew apple, the pseudo-fruit, is rich in vitamin C. It is used to cure scurvy, diarrhea, uterine complaints and dropsy.

Primarily, cashew farming is the right option for soil conservation, afforestation and wasteland development. Cashew is grown in nearly 25 countries of the world. Some of the major cashew producing countries are India, Brazil, Vietnam, Tanzania, Mozambique, and Indonesia. India holds the first position in growing cashew worldwide.

Health Benefits of Cashew

You can compare its nutritional composition with almond, hazelnut, walnut etc. Additionally, it is a zero-cholesterol nut with high unsaturated fatty acids, proteins, and carbohydrates. Also, it comes with a right combination of amino acids, vitamins, and minerals.

The copper and iron in cashews work together to help the body form and utilize red blood cells. This, in turn, keeps blood vessels, nerves, the immune system, and bones healthy and functioning properly. Finally, the consumption of cashews has been linked to cancer prevention, heart health, and weight maintenance.

Agroclimatic Condition for Cashew Farming

Generally, cashew prefers warm humid tropical conditions. You can grow cashew up to 1,000 m above mean sea level. Most important cashew-growing tracts are found between 150 South and 150 North latitudes. The ideal temperature range is 15 to 35° C, though it can tolerate a temperature of 50 – 45° C. However, the lower temperature at high altitudes affects the development of tree and flowering.

A distinct dry period of 4-6 months with an annual rainfall of 1,000 – 2,000 mm is ideal for its commercial cultivation. Rain during flowering and harvesting is not desirable and causes tea mosquito and Colletotrichum infection.

Suitable Soil for Cashew Farming

Cashew grows in almost all types of soils. It performs well in well-drained, red sandy loams and lights coastal sand without a hard pan and with water lable between 5 and 10 m depth. The ideal pH is from 5.6 – 7.0. Soil with a pH more than 8.0 is not suitable for its cultivation since it is sensitive to excessive salinity. Cashew is sensitive to waterlogging and tolerant to moisture stress to a greater extent. Areas prone to waterlogging may be avoided for its commercial plantations.

Best Varieties for Cashew Farming

Cashew is a cross-pollinated crop. Additionally, it is highly heterozygous and considerable
segregation has resulted in considerable variation in its seedling population. An ideal cashew plant must have dwarf and compact canopy with intensive branching habit, short flowering, and fruiting phase.

Generally, Hybrids performed better than the selections. Also, you can utilize the hybrid vigor commercially in cashew through softwood grafting. Nowadays, the dwarf genotype with compact canopy and high-yield potential is gaining acceptance in cashew cultivation realizing its utility in high-density planting.

Cashew Plantation Basic Steps

Propagation

In cashew, two different types of propagations are possible – seed and vegetative. Different types of vegetative propagations are air-layering, veneer grafting, epicotyl grafting, softwood grafting and in situ grafting. However, the softwood grafting has become the most successful and widely-adopted method.

For softwood grafting, you can raise healthy seedlings (2 months old) having a single main stem in polybags. Collect scion from elite mother plants. The selected scion should be 3-5 months old from current season’s growth, and 10-12 cm long. Ensure that it is pencil-thick with a brown color having dormant and plumpy terminal bud and top leaves of dark green color.

Procure the scions by clipping three-fourths of the leaf blades 7-10 days before grafting. Decapitate the rootstock 15 cm above the ground level retaining 2 pairs of bottom leaves. Additionally, you can create a cleft of 4-5 cm deep on the cut end. Insert the wedge of the scion into the cleft of the stock. Finally, secure the graft joint by a polythene tape. The successful grafts show signs of growth 3-4 weeks after grafting. They become ready for planting 5-6 months after grafting. The ideal season is from March to September.

Top Working

Basically, top-working is a technique to rejuvenate old and unproductive cashew trees. Successfully, you can rejuvenate the trees that are 5-15 years old. However, trees above 25 years show reduced sprouting and stunted growth. Beheading the trees from May to September is best for the vigor of the sprouts and availability of suitable scion for grafting. Beheading at 0.5 m height provides better canopy also.

Planting

Generally, the softwood grafts of high-yielding varieties are the best planting materials. However, you can also use seedlings for planting. Pit size influences growth of plants. The pits of 90 cm x 90 cm x 90 cm size are ideal. The spacing varies depending on soil type agro-climatic conditions and management methods.

Manuring & Fertilization

Due to the extensive root system, cashew draws nutrients from large volumes of soil. Additionally, it performs well on poor soils where other crops fail. However, it shows good response to fertilizer application. The general recommendation of NPK is 750 g N, 325 g P2O5 and 750 g K2O/adult tree. However, you may increase the dose by 33% in areas where soil fertility is low.

Irrigation

Drip irrigation is the most common method. Also, you can apply the flow tech irrigation. Actually, it is an improved method over drip irrigation. Application of water (200 liters/tree) once in a fortnight is recommended for increasing cashew yield. While irrigating cashew plants, you must take care to avoid continuous irrigation. Otherwise, the trees may remain in vegetative phase for a longer period.

Pruning

Basically, pruning is an important practice in cashew. It facilitates proper light penetration and helps in the production of vigorous productive laterals for enhancing nut production. The right time for pruning is the August month. A pruning schedule of removing 25% of fifth order of branches at 3 years’ interval increases yield considerably.

Harvesting & Post Harvest Management

Flowering in cashew starts from third year onwards and reaches full production potential by the tenth year. Generally, it gives economic yield for a further 20 years. After fruit set, nut develops quickly and reaches full size 3-4 weeks after flowering.

Proper post-harvest management is essential in cashew. After that pedicel enlarges to produce cashew apple. The fruits mature in 60 days and they are harvested when fully ripe. Allow the ripe fruits to fall down and collect them manually. Then, separate the nuts from the apple. Dry them in sun for 2-3 days and store temporarily.

Generally, the yield of nut varies enormously from 1 to 45 kg/tree/year. The yield of cashew apple is 8-10 times of the nut yield.