Betel Vine by B7BONZL


									                                       Betel Vine
                                       Booklet No. 319
                                      Narcotics: NRCS-1
I. Introduction
II. Climate
IIII. Soil
IV. Varieties
V. Preparation of Land
VI. Manuring
VII. Planting Season
VIII. Planting Material
IX. Planting Method
X. Irrigation and Drainage
XI. Pests and Diseases
XII. Harvesting
XIII. Marketing
XIV. Processing


        Betel vine is grown almost in every part of our country. The betel leaf occupies a
significant place in the everyday life of the Indian people. To our nation, the betel leaf has been
and is likely to remain an ever promising trade material for the domestic and foreign markets.
This booklet deals with the cultivation aspects of betel vine in a detailed way.

Dr. K. T. Chandy, Agricultural & Environmental Education

I. Introduction

        The betelvine (Piper betle) is a perennial creeper which belongs to family Piperaceae
and cultivated in India for its leaf ever since time immemorial. The betel vine occupies a f
significant place in the everyday life of the Indian people. Chewing of the leaf, or 'pan' as it is
called, is an ancient habit among all classes of people. It is considered auspicious to make
offerings with the betel leaf and areca nut on occasions such as wedding and worships.

         The betel leaf is fairly rich in vitamins B and C, and is supposed to be a tonic to the
brain, liver and the heart. It clears the mouth and throat and helps digestion by encouraging
salivation and neutralizing excess of acid by the lime eaten with it. The chlorophyll present in
leaf is good for teeth.

        To the farmers, a betel leaf garden, once established, is like a perennial fountain
providing cash for meeting their everyday requirements. Betel vine cultivation is highly intensive
and it especially suites small holdings. The betel leaf can be kept on the vine for over six
months without any fear of being spoiled. In this respect, the betel vine crop has a distinct
advantage over other perishable cash crops such as vegetables, the produce of which after
maturity must be transported and sold without any loss of time.
         Growing betel vine is an extremely delicate job, requiring an intimate knowledge with
respect to temperaturture humidity, shade support and its nutritional requirements. The
cultivation of this crop needs a reliable source of water supply throughout the year.

         The cultivation of this vine under relatively natural conditions is limited to tropical forest
areas on the south-western coast of peninsular India and in the hilly areas of Assam under
artificially created conditions. However, it is grown almost in every part of the country. The
cultivation of the betel vine, therefore, is the traditional ability and skill of the Indian farmer.

II. Climate

       The betel vine favours tropical forest conditions which provide a cool shade,
considerable humidity and a regular supply of moisture in the soil.

         The climate marked by high humidity, moderate temperature and rainfall is good for its
cultivation. Dry and hot winds burn the tender tips of the vines, and cause their wilting in spite of
sufficient moisture being present in the soil. Too low temperatures force the vines to shed their
leaves early.

III. Soil

         The crop requires well-drained and fertile soils. It does not tolerate saline and alkaline
soil conditions. It is therefore, grown in tracts where well-drained soils, rich in humus and
nutrients, occur. Red laterite, old and new alluvial soils are also preferred. Very deep clayey
soils and those low in situations subject to water logging and salting, are avoided for its
cultivation. If the planting is done in poorly-drained soils, the veins turn yellow and remain

IV. Varieties

        Several varieties distinctly differing in respect of morphology and colour of leaf, taste and
aroma are known to exist in different parts of India. Leaves growing under more favourable
conditions are usually bigger in size and less pungent than those growing under less favourable
conditions. In one year time, it grows as tall as 10 to 15 feet. Its leaves are smooth, having
cordate or similar shapes, and vary in size according to the variety. Some of the important
varieties are Maghai, Banarsi, Bangala and Karpoori etc.

V. Preparation of Land

       The grower should select a soil which is loamy in texture and has a porous substratum
below. In heavier soils there should be provision for good drainage and a liberal supply of bulky
manures. The farm yard manure is thoroughly mixed with the soil by frequent harrowings, and
the land is leveled and laid out in various ways.

       For planting vines, pits of various dimensions, varying from 2 to 4 sq.ft, or 2 to 4 feet in
diameter in the case of round pits and one to two feet in depth are dug at the base of the
supporting trees. They are then filled in with top-soil and one to four pounds of wood ash or leaf
mould. The soil must have excellent drainage conditions because the vines have to re- main on
the same land for several years.
       To get a good crop, an elaborate arrangement for its protection have to be made before
the crop is planted. Such arrangement consist of raising of wind-breaks and provision of
supports and shade plants or rooting and adequate facilities for irrigation and drainage.

         There is a large variety of lay-outs used for betel-vine all over the country. Some of
these variations could be explained in terms of differences of the soil, climate and the availability
of irrigation facilities and live and dead supports.

VI. Manuring

        The betel vine grows under a heavy use of irrigation. Considerable care has to be taken
to maintain a good structure of the soil in the root zone of the vines, to help them develop good-
quality leaves continuously. Therefore, manuring is a very important practice for this. The
manuring practices and the materials used vary considerably allover the country. In general,
high dose of bulky manures such as farmyard manure, and materials like river and tank silt are
commonly used.

      Next in the extent of use are the various oilcakes and other organic manures like fish
manures. The use of fertilizers is sporadic or rare.

       Bulky organic manures arc, in general, considered very good for a good-quality leaf. In
some parts, farmyard manure is avoided as far as possible as it is believed to harbour fungus
spores which cause diseases on the vines.

       The quantities of manures to be applied per acre, and the time and the method of their
application differ widely in the different betel-vine growing areas of the country.

VII. Planting Season

        The actual time of planting in the different betel vine growing areas should be
understood carefully. Planting seasons vary widely over different tracts in the country. Due to
this it is quite usual to find in any month of the year planting and harvesting going on
simultaneously in one part of the country or the other.

         The planting time is governed by several factors, among which temperature and rainfall
are the most important. At the time of planting there should be warm and moist weather.
Extreme cold is detrimental to the sprouting of the vines. Likewise, the crop needs frequent
irrigations to maintain soil moisture at field capacity or slightly lower than field capacity. When
the conditions of temperature and rainfall are favourable, planting time is adjusted according to
the type of support to be used for the vines. Hence, in general, planting in locations where the
betel vine is a subordinate crop starts immediately after the onset of the monsoon. So, also in
places in the South where dead supports are used and where soils are well-drained, planting is
done early in the monsoon season. In states like Uttar Pradesh and West Bengal, where
monsoons are a bit late and winters are severe, planting is done only after winter, that is, March
or April. Thus roughly, the planting season in India begins in Mayor June in the South, and ends
up in the following March or April in the North.

VIII. Planting Material

        The vines are propagated by the terminal stem cuttings or setts obtained from
sufficiently mature plantations. Sets from the lower portions of the vines are dull and take longer
time to sprout, or even fail to do so, due to the deep dormancy of the adventitious root buds at
the nodes of these sets. Sets obtaIned tram the top portions of the vines are easy to root and,
hence, are the best for planting.

         The length of the sets varies considerably. It is as long as 3 feet in the permanent
plantations in Kerala, North Kanada, parts of Mysore and Assam. In Andhra Pradesh, Bombay,
Madras and the remaining parts of Mysore, the length of the sets is about 12 to 18 inches, while
it is just about 3 to 4 inches in Uttar Pradesh and parts of West Bengal. The number of sets
planted per acre also varies considerably, depending on the same factors.

IX. Planting Method

        Sets with vigorous apical buds and nodal adventitious roots selected and planted at the
base of the supports or standards by digging small trenches. If the set is small, about half of it is
buried in the soil, keeping the other half above ground. If the sets are longer, it is slightly coiled
around and then planted, with the terminal shoot, above ground pointing towards the support.

        Before planting, the beds are first irrigated and the soil moisture in them, brought to field
capacity. In the areas where there is a fear of the wilt disease, the beds are irrigated by keeping
a basket of copper sulphate in the irrigation channel. The salt dissolves readily in water, and is
distributed uniformly allover the plantation.

        While planting, it is extremely important to press the soil firmly around the cutting. This
excludes air pocket and helps the sets establish good contact with the soil and strike roots early.
If the soil is left loose it absorbs excess water and the cuttings fail to establish early. Later, these
cuttings turn yellowish and soon shed their apical buds. Once the only strong apical bud falls off,
the cutting takes a long time before it produces an equally vigorous side bud. For the same
reason also the first few irrigations in many parts of the country are given by splashing water on
the vines by hand from a nearby trench dug already for the purpose, or by watering them with a
can. After the cuttings are established, light flow of irrigation should be provided.

1. Training the live standards
        To ensure that each of the vines get a support to trail upon, the seed of the live
standards is sown first. Among the live standards commonly used in betelvine plantations,
Sesbania aegyptiaca, Moringa pterygosperma and Erythina indica are important. Before the
vines establish and begin to creep the stems of the live support are to be kept smooth by cutting
down all the side branches. Care should be taken to avoid planting of the spiny types as a live

2. Trailing the vines
        In about a months time after planting, the sets begin to sprout and creep. Trailing is done
by tying the vines with banana fibres or dried stalks. When the vines come in contact with the
standards they strike adventitious roots with which they cling to the support.

3. Lowering the vines
        Under normal cultivation vines grow to a height of about 10 feet in a year. When they
reach the height, their vigour to produce normal size leaves gets reduced, and they require
rejuvenation. This is achieved by lowering the vines down to the ground buried partially, at least
once in a year. This also helps for plucking of leaves conveniently. Further the yield of leaves in
betel vine depends on the number of primary vines sprouting up from ground level and their
branches. Hence, the vines are coiled, lowered and buried partially in the basal, ground level. In
view of all these considerations, lowering of vines has a special significance in the betel vine
cultivation. The time of lowering of vines differ in different regions.

       Usually, lowering is not done during monsoon season. Spring season is considered to
be the best season. Lowering of vines
should be followed by light irrigation. It is an important operation in betel vine cultivation and
needs skilled labour.

IX. Irrigation and Drainage ,;

          The sets establish in about 3 weeks time and the first leaf is put forth in about a month.
Once the vines are established, the plantation needs constant attention. The care to be i given
to the betel vine includes thinning of the live standards " and pruning them for shape and shade,
filling in of gaps in the vines and trailing them, weeding, earthing up, top-dressing, irrigation and
drainage, and lowering of vines after picking the leaves.

         Betel vine needs a constantly moist soil. It is essential that the soil should never be too
wet nor too dry. To achieve this, frequent but light irrigation are very necessary. In the rainy
season or under heavy irrigation, when a water-logged condition is likely to result, the provision
of a good surface drainage system to remove excess water has to be made. In summer,
farmers in some places prefer to undergo the trouble of applying small quantities of irrigation
water as frequently as once a day or even twice a day, but would never take the risk of
damaging the crop by over irrigation. Small quantities of water should be applied every time so
that it does not remain in the bed for more than about half an hour.

        An excess of irrigation causes decaying of roots and dropping of the leaves. Some
farmers believe that irrigation should not be applied in the hotter part of the day, otherwise, the
leaves would turn chlorotic. Morning irrigation is preferred by the leaves to irrigation at any other
time of the day. Irrigations should be more frequent after lowering, and less frequent when the
vines are in full bearing. Irrigation of betel vine is an operation needing an exceptional ability for
judgement on the part of the cultivator.

        The frequency of irrigations depends chiefly on the climate, soil and the layout. In
general, it is seen that the interval between irrigations in any locality is the maximum in the rainy
season and minimum in summer. Accordingly, irrigations during the monsoon period are given
at an interval of about 8 -10 days or as and when needed. The interval in winter is of about a
week and of 3 to 4 days or even less in summer. In the exceptional cases, as in Uttar Pradesh
where the soils are loamy and summers severe irrigation is given daily for a fortnight. After the
monsoons are over, one or two waterings daily are given to the creepers by bringing water in
earthen pots.

XI. Pests and Diseases

        The betelvine is one of the most delicate plants and is liable to be attacked by several
insect pests and diseases.

1. Betel vine bug
        The attack of this insect can be so severe as to be a great menace to the betel vine
crop. In some areas, this has been controlled satistactorily by using " Gueserol 550", some
growers use water dispersible DDT at the rate of one pound in 30 gallons of water applied in
two doses at a fortnightly interval.
2. Mealy IJug
       This insect also can be as bad as the betel vine bug, if not controlled in time. Basuddin is
considered useful for its control.

      Among the diseases attacking the betel vine crop, betel vine wilt, leaf spot, foot rot,
powdery mildew and downy mildew are important.

3. Betelvine wilt
       This disease is caused by the fungus Phytophthora parasitica which lives in the soil. It
comes in a very virulent form, and if not controlled, the whole plantation may be wiped out.
Bordeaux mixture 2:2:50 is recommended for spraying to control the disease.

4. Leaf spot and foot rot
       The organism causing the leaf spot disease is Phytophthora parasitica. The foot rot
disease is caused by a Pythium species. These diseases occur in a sever form in the rainy
season. The infection is carried through infected vines mud farmyard manure or even irrigation
water. The leaf spot disease can be recognized by the appearance on the leaves of brown or
black spots with perceptible concentric rings. It may extend on to the entire leaf and also the
stem which then starts rotting downwards.

        The diseases can be prevented by treating the soil with a mixture consisting of 15 parts
of formalin and 85 parts of charcoal dust at the rate of 2 ounces over square foot. Application of
5 : 5 : 50 bordeaux mixture a few days before planting would also help in preventing the
diseases. In order to ensure that infection does not spread on the vines, they are treated with
0.15 percent "perenox" mixture 2 to 3 times at fortnightly interval would give a satisfactory
control. At least for 15 days following the treatment of the vines with any of the above
chemicals, the leaves are not fit for consumption, and even afterwards, they should be washed
well before use.

XII. Harvesting

         Under favourable climatic conditions and good cultivation, the vines grow fast and
produce leaves of consumable size relatively early. The time of starting the picking of leaves
depends on the growth of the vines and market conditions. The picking of leaves starts as early
as about 3 -6 months after planting in localities like Bombay, Kerala and Andhra Pradesh, where
the life of the crop is short. In other places harvesting starts when the plantation is about a year
old. Once harvesting starts, it continues almost every day or week depending upon the market
conditions. However, the interval of harvesting leaves from the same vine varies from 15 days to
about a couple of months till the next lowering of the vines, in the different regions.

        While harvesting for the market, only the leaves borne on the branches and not on the
main stem are picked. Leaves on the main stem are of a lower quality and are usually not
valued in the market. Picking of leaves needs an expert hand. In some areas, leaves are picked
with the help of an artificial device made of iron which is put on the right thumb by the person
picking the leaves.

         Leaves are cut along with the petiole, graded and packed in convenient packages made
from local material like banana sheath. Like any other crop grown under different conditions of
soil, climate and cultivation, the yield of betel-vine varies considerably. The crop yields less in
the first year, maximum in the middle period of life and again less-towards the end. The gardens
of betelvine, in these areas last from six to ten years.

XIII. Marketing

       The movement of the betel leaf from the grower to the consumer takes place through
various classes of middlemen. The commission agents or the wholesaler in the assembling
market collect the produce either by contacting the producer directly or through small agents.
The agents inspect the leaves, grade them and make transport arrangement. From them the
produce is collected by the agents of wholesalers at the consuming centres. After receiving the
produce, he sells it to small merchants who in turn sell it to the consumer either as it is or after
bleaching process.

        Betelvine is a perishable commodity and needs quick transport. For transportation to
short distances trucks are used and for long distances rail transport is commonly used. The
price received by the grower depends on many factors such as the market conditions, the
quality of leaf and the transport used. The profits of the farmer vary considerably in the different
regions, depending on many factors like the distance from the market and the cost of transport,
the method of establishing the plantation, the planting material used, and the wages paid, and
also the market conditions.

XIV. Processing

        Grading is done in various ways and the grades named accordingly. In some areas, the
leaves are classified according to their position of the vines. The leaves on the branches are
called "Hatvan" and are usually considered the best. Those at the nodes on the main stem,
"Angwan" are of a medium quality. The rest which may be from any part of the vine but of a
definitely inferior quality are known as "Madwan". Some times, the leaves are graded according
to size, and are named in various ways.

       A large portion of the betel leaves are consumed fresh. But a small portion of it is
processed by bleaching before use.

         A bleached leaf possesses a number of medicinal properties for which it is used in
Ayurvedic medicinal preparations. It contains more reducing sugars and essential oils than
fresh' leaf, and have better aroma and taste. It increases its market value by two to three folds.

        Bleaching process takes place in a chamber made of galvanized iron sheet. Mature
leaves are selected and filled in the chamber and covered with moist gunny bags. The leaves
are to be examined every alternate day to see the progress of bleaching which is involved in the
lightening of the leaf colour. After attaining the desired colour bleaching process should be
stopped. Normally it completes in about 8-15 days in summer and 15-25 days in winter.


To top