Basmati Rice : For Procparious Life of Farmers

Aromatic rice with extra long and soft textured grain, double expansion in length after cooking with excellent taste are unique characteristics of basmati, which is being cultivated in the foothills of Himalayas. There is appreciable demand for such rice in the international and domestic market; it is grown mainly in Haryana (Karnal, Jind, Ambala, Kaithal and Kurukshetra districts), Punjab (Kapurthala, Gurdaspur, Amritsar and Pathankot districts), Uttarakhand (Dehradun, Haridwar and US Nagar districts) and UP (Saharanpur, Muzaffarnagar, Rampur and Pilibbit districts.) Awareness among the farmers is to be created for better transfer of research technology. Prolonged sunshine and assured water supply are the pre-requisites for an excellent basmati crop. The fragrance, cooking and eating qualities of basmati are improved, if the crop matures in relatively cooler temperature and doesn’t suffer from any biotic and abiotic stress. There is wide gap between the technologies developed at the research institutions and their applicability at the farmer’s field. Therefore, awareness among the farmers is to be created for better transfer of research technology in the interest of rice industry.

Choice of Variety: The varieties must be recommended after having the qualities based on market oriented demand, consumer’s liking/cooking qualities, appreciated by exporter/miller and minimum problem of plant protection, but always it is not happening with the varieties released by centre and state. Presently in the basmati growing areas, varieties ‘Sugandha 4’ (‘Pusa 1121’) and ‘CSR 30’ occupies about 70% share during kharif 200708. Other varieties like Taraori Basmati’, ‘Basmati 386’ and ‘Pusa Basmati 1, Pant Sugandh Dhan are also having sizable contribution in export of aromatic rice. Moreover, ‘Type 3’ (‘Dehradun Basmati’) and ‘Kasturi’ are also getting share in fields of Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand states due to domestic demand.

Seed and its Treatment: There is gain of 5-7% in production, if certified seed is adopted. Secondly, quality of production also improved remarkably. Quality seed @ 15-20 kg/ha is sufficient for raising nursery. Select heavy seed by dipping in 10% salt solution. Empty, partially filled and unhealthy seeds float, which should be removed. Wash the seed 2-3 times with fresh water, otherwise it may affect germination. Treat the selected seed with 5 g Emisan and 1 g streptocycline per 10 kg seed. Later on, it should be kept in 10 litre of water for 24 hour. This will provide protection from seed borne diseases. Further, soaked seed is to be incubated under wet gunny bags for 36-48 hour. When the seed sprout, it is ready for sowing.

Nursery Raising: Under present cultivation system, wet method of nursery raising is adopted by majority of the farmers, which is good. One tenth (1/10) area of main field is required for nursery raising. Generally, 2-4 dry harrowings/ploughings are sufficient to pulverize the soil. Give heavy irrigation after making bunds around the required area for nursery. Puddle the soil by 2-3 cross ploughings. Sprouted seeds are broadcast uniformly in the field after settling of the mud. Special care for water management is required during first week of nursery. The seedbed should be kept wet and the water should not be allowed to stagnate during the day time to avoid injury to the germinating tender seedling due to heat transmittance in standing water. After the nursery age of 12-15 days, hand weeding is required or weedicide is to be used after sowing operation is over in nursery bed.

Field Preparation: It depends on the previous crop grown in the main field. These may be Sesbania spp. (green manuring crop), green gram / cowpea (summer crop) and sorghum/maize (fodder), mint, lentil and wheat after harvesting of the previous crop, two dry harrowing are needed in the field, which helps to uproot the existing weeds and residue of crop. Before preparing the field for transplanting, proper levelling the field is required. Laser leveller is a very good implement for this purpose, which is now in the approach of common farmer. It also helps to increase irrigation efficiency. Fill the field with water to the depth of 5-7 cm, than puddle the field and plank properly. One pass of rotavater is another better choice for puddling operation, which is time saving device with better performance. Two cross passes of rotavater are sufficient, if green manure crop is to be buried before transplanting.

Time and Method of Transplanting: Planting time plays a pivotal role in producing higher yield and quality of basmati rice. Early planting causes excess vegetative growth particularly in traditional basmati varieties, on the other hand, late planting provides insufficient plant growth with higher infection of blast to crop. Therefore, the time for transplanting of traditional basmati varieties (‘Basmati 386,’ ‘Taraori Basmati’, ‘Type 3’) and ‘CSR 30’ must be second fortnight of July. However, evolved varieties ‘Sugandha 4’ and ‘Pusa Basmati 1’ should be transplanted in the first fortnight of July. Keeping particular area in mind, early part of schedule started from Punjab passing through Haryana, Uttarakhand and in the end time in U.P. Late (August) planting of basmati did not yield economical production. Panicles/ m2 and grains/panicle also decreased with delay in planting. There is always (whole transplanting period), 20-25 days old seedling provides higher grain yield. Farmers are advised not to grow basmati varieties as second crop, if 2 crops grown in a season. Random planting is the method used by the farmers. Therefore, planting 30-35 hills/m is advised to obtain required plant population in the field. Mostly, the plant population of 18-20 hills/ m2 has been observed at farmer’s field, but in the few areas, it was recorded up to 22-28 hills/m2. Major emphasis is given to maintain optimum plant population, which helps to reduce the attack of pests, 6-7 days early maturity, uniform grain filling, reducing green grain percentage. Optimum depth (2.5 to 5.0 cm) favours tillering and root growth. With deep planting (5 to 10 cm), there is reduction in grain yield, panicle weight and grains/ panicle. Uprooting of seedlings under water helps to overcome the bacanae disease.

Nutrient Management: It is better to apply fertilizers on soil test basis. Otherwise, the required nutrients should be applied by 60 kg N + 50 kg P2O5 + 40 kg K2O + 25 kg ZnSO4/ha for tall basmati varieties ‘Basmati 386’, ‘Taraori Basmati’ and ‘Type 3’ and ‘CSR 30’. Additional dose of 30 kg N/ha should be added for ‘Pusa Basmati 1’ and ‘Sugandha 4’. Whole P, K and Zn are to be applied before transplanting and N is to be top dressed in 3 equal parts i.e. one third (1/3) N at 7, 20 and 40 days after transplanting. There should not be standing water in field at the time of top dressing. Moreover, green manuring of Sesbania spp (about 4-5’ height) and 25 kg ZnSO4/ ha are sufficient for basmati crop. Deciding the nutrient requirement for basmati, fertility status of soil, crop rotation and choice of variety are to be considered carefully. Excess application of N fertilizer to basmati causes crop susceptible to diseases and reduces the percentage of head rice recovery (HRR).

Weed Control: There is comparatively low weed problem, if good puddling, dense planting and proper water schedule techniques have been adopted. As per availability of labour, manual weeding should be done at 20 and 40 days after transplanting. Otherwise weedicides like Butachlor – 1.5 kg a.i./ha or Anilophos – 0.4 kg a.i. /ha or Pretilachlor – 0.75 to 1.0 kg a.i. /ha should be used within 2 days of planting to overcome weed problem. Roughing is essential field operation to take our residue to weeds, other paddy varieties and bacanae disease infected plants. This will help to produce good quality product, which fetches higher price in market.

Irrigation Schedule: The water requirement is comparatively low in the nursery raised after puddling (wet method). First fortnight ponding of ± 5 cm water is useful for crop establishment as well as controlling the weeds in main field. There should be no water stress at the time of tillering, panicle initiation (PI), panicle emergence and grain development stages of crop. It helps in increasing the production grain quality and reduction in the infection of blast. Under low water availability, the irrigation just before crackling the field may save the water without significant reduction in yield. Continuous ponding of water is not desirable.

Foliage Pruning: Tall varieties of basmati have the tendency of lodging at the time of ear emergence and/ or grain development. Excess nutrients, more ponding of water and very early planting are major causes for this unwanted incidence of basmati. This may be reduced by pruning of upper foliage of crop, i.e. cutting of 10 cm above collar of last leaf at the age of 45-50 days after transplanting. This may also help to reduce the incidence of leaf folder in addition to check the lodging without sacrificing the productivity.

Harvesting and Threshing: Basmati rice varieties should be harvested as soon as they mature, i.e. when the panicles are nearly ripe (yellow) and the straw has just turned green to yellow. Delayed harvesting may result in the over-ripening and shattering of grains in the field and increase breakage during milling process. Most of the basmati crop is harvested by sickle and threshed by hand beating exercise. However, limited reaper and modified threshers are available. The harvested crop should preferably be threshed on the same or next days of harvesting. The delayed threshing causes shattering losses and reduced HRR. The produce should be dried properly and cleaned before sending to the market for fetching high prices.

Insect- Pests: For controlling insect and pest; prepared cow urine solution with leaves of locally available tree/herbs, Harit pani, (a farm product by locally available ingredients), Pheromone trap / Trico-cards (Trichogramma japonicum), Use of Beauvera (Biological control) and other farm made products, i.e. solution of garlic and chilly etc.
Diseases: The important disease are seudomonas florisence (based on bacteria), Trichoderma harzilanum (based on fungi), and others, i.e. calmonas, calpnomel and calopaste.

Conclusions: There is wide gap between the technologies developed at the research institutions and their applicability at the farmer’s field. Choice of variety, seed treatment, nursery raising, field preparation, time and method of transplanting, nutrient management weed control, irrigation schedule, foliage pruning etc. have bearing on production. Therefore, awareness among the farmers is to be created for better transfer of research technology in the interest of rice industry.

By:- Mukesh Topwal
Department of Horticulture.
Uttaranchal (P.G.) College Of Bio-Medical Sciences & Hospital