Climate Information for Tejpat Farming.
The crop requires exactly the average temperature range of India for its growth. The range stays between 25°C to 35°C. However, the plant can still survive in a wider range of temperature than this.
Bay leaf/Tejpat tree requires a moist and humid climate with an evenly distributed and well-drained annual rainfall of about 1000 mm to 1200 mm. However, Bay leaf/Tejpat trees can easily survive in rainfall lower as well as higher than that.
Cold winds, blizzards, frost and mist are very harmful to the plants and the plants should be protected from these at the young stage. The warm, humid and moist climate of India (especially southern India) is ideal for the optimum growth of the crop.
Physical conditions like high relative humidity, evenly distributed rainfall and moderate temperatures are ideal for the conditions for the voracious growth of leaves.
Suitable Soil for Tejpat Farming.
Bay leaf/Tejpat trees can be cultivated in a wide range of soils starting from sandy loam or alluvial soils of north India to clay loam or deep clay loam or lateritic/acidic soils in the Deccan plateau and north-eastern hills. But, the best suitable soil conditions are well-drained black soils with a high percentage of organic matter content. Soils with poor drainage should be avoided. The optimum range of pH is from 6.0 to 8.0. pH value of 10 and more would result in very poor yields.
Recommended sowing times for Tejpat Farming.
Since it is not a hardcore food crop and essentially grows into a full-fledged tree, thus it can be sown practically in any time of the year. Bay leaf/Tejpat trees are propagated both by means of seeds (sexual method) and also vegetative by budding. For large scale commercial cultivation, seedlings are transplanted in the months of February-March just before the commencement of hot summer season since bay leaf plants require a good amount of sunlight.
Land preparation for Tejpat Farming.
Like all other commercial cultivations, an important task required for Bay leaf/Tejpat farming is proper land preparation. At least 2 to 3 thorough ploughings are necessary for making the field weed-free as well as for obtaining fine tilth of the soil. This would also level and clear the previously grown crops vegetation. The remaining soil clods after these ploughings should be crushed manually by country ploughs or other instruments since it favors germination. After opening up the topsoil, the land is left as it is for 15 days in the sun for sun-drying. This will ensure the elimination of the weeds and potential weed seeds. After that, about 10 tonnes of well-rotted farmyard manure (FYM) should be applied and spread evenly on the soil. Then, it should be properly mixed with the soil by means of further ploughing. After that, irrigation ridges, furrows and channels are created for further operations.
Sowing methods and tips for Tejpat Farming.
The propagation of Bay leaf/Tejpat plants takes place only by means of vegetative methods.
The propagation methods include cutting of side roots and layering.
1. Cutting involves a shoot taken from the superior mother plant and then planted in the field where the shoot will eventually sprout a root system and regenerate itself into a full-fledged tree with trunk and bark.
2. In the layering process, a branch of the old plant is bent into a trench and then covered by soil. After a few days, new roots sprout from the buried part of the plant and then they are disconnected from the mother plant. Also, in the air layering process, scratches are made in a branch of the tree which is then treated with appropriate hormones and then covered by sphagnum moss and other materials for retaining moisture. A few days after, roots and shoots sprout from that part which is then detached and planted in the field.
Irrigation methods for Tejpat Farming.
Constant availability of appropriate soil moisture in the plants favors the optimum growth of the plants. Irrigation is not required since the areas where this plant grows receive plenty of rainfall and that is enough for meeting the water requirements of the plant. However, in extremely dry areas and areas with the sudden invasion of drought, proper irrigation is necessary to keep the plants thriving. Drip irrigation should be practiced instead of traditional irrigation for saving water.
Fertilizer Requirements for Tejpat farming.
Around 10 tonnes of well-rotted farmyard manure (FYM) per hectare land is added during land preparation for soil richness. Under appropriate soil moisture conditions, organic manures will provide the best results. However, Nitrogen and phosphorus are highly essential to the crops for extensive growth. This can be provided by means of organic fertilizers only. Besides those, micronutrients like Zinc, Copper, Manganese, Iron, Boron, etc. are also necessary.
Best Varieties for Tejpat Farming.
There are not many varieties available in bay leaves.
Seed treatment required for Tejpat farming.
No traditional seed treatment is required since Bay leaf/Tejpat seeds are not at all used for commercial propagation.
Best practices for Tejpat Farming.
Weed control or intercultural operations – For Bay leaf/Tejpat plants, 4 weedings at an interval of one month are necessary for controlling unwanted weeds since they affect the overall yield of the plants. After every harvest, weeding should be carried out to prepare the field for the upcoming batch. Chemical weedicides like fluchloralin at the rate of 2 kg per hectare, diuron at the rate of 3 kg per hectare, simazine at the rate of 4 kg per hectare or paraquat at the rate of 7.5 kg per hectare can also be used in proper limits for better results. Mulching by means of 100-micron recyclable black polythene sheets is also a good alternative for controlling weeds. For organic mulching, 12 to 15 cm thick mulch should be used which will also facilitate penetration of water to the roots of the plants.
Harvesting – The Bay leaf/Tejpat leaves should be harvested after 2 to 3 years from planting. Careful hand-picking of undamaged leaves should be practiced. After harvest, the Bay leaves/Tejpats are stored in a very cool and dry place and they are released for the local and export markets and for further processing in spice processing industries.