Climate Information for Tulip Farming.
The crop requires less than the average temperature range of India for its optimum growth. The range stays between 20°C to 26°C in the day time and 5°C to 12°C at night. Tulip tree requires a humid climate with an evenly distributed annual rainfall of about 1000 mm to 1200 mm. However, Tulip trees can easily survive in rainfall lower or higher than that. But, the trees are sensitive to water stagnation, and thus excessive rainfall with the absence of proper drainage leading to waterlogging may damage the roots of the plants.
Tulip trees are typically grown in the temperate climatic regions of the world. It requires short day lengths without bright sunlight and long night lengths for ideal growth of the bulbs. These trees require very faint sunlight during the critical stages of growth period or else the bulbs show signs of wilting. Cold climates with high relative humidity are the ideal physical conditions for the growth of the plants.
Physical conditions like prolonged periods of drought, excessive rainfall, prolonged periods of bright sunlight and invasion of frost during the winter season are not at all favorable for the growth of the plants.
90 to 120 frost-free days are absolutely necessary for the optimum growth of the plants.
Suitable Soil for Tulip Farming.
Tulip plants can be cultivated in a very narrow range of soils. But, the best suitable soil conditions are well-drained and highly fertile light sandy loamy soils with a high percentage of organic matter content and humus for better growth and yield. Soils with poor drainage are not suitable at all. There should not be any water stagnation in the field. The optimum range of pH is from 5.5 to 6.5. pH value of 10 and more would result in very poor yields and would require appropriate soil treatments. For commercial cultivation of tulip, very heavy soils should be avoided at all costs. Tulip performs best on neutral or slightly acidic soils. Saline soils or too much heavy clay soils are not suitable for tulip cultivation.
Recommended sowing times for Tulip Farming.
Tulip plants are mainly propagated by bulbs and bulblets. They can also be propagated by seeds, but it is not practised widely. The ideal sowing times for the flowers can be stated as –
Land preparation for Tulip Farming.
Like all other commercial cultivations, an important task required for Tulip 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 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 20 tonnes of well-rotted farmyard manure (FYM) or vermicomposting 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. In case of a poor drainage system, it is highly recommended to prepare raised beds.
Sowing methods and tips for Tulip Farming.
The propagation of Tulip plants takes place by means of bulbs, bullbats and seeds. However, seed propagation is not at all favored because it will result in the initiation of variation and various shades of flowers unknown to us can be produced in the upcoming filial generations. The method of staggered planting at a two weeks interval ensures regular flower supply. The depth of the planting will entirely depend upon the size of the bulb. The standard calculation is maintaining the planting depth as two to three times the height of the bulb. In general, tulip bulbs should be planted 5 to 8 cm deep at a spacing of 15 cm X 15 cm. Partial or full shading should be provided especially from 12 noon to 4 pm for blocking the direct sunlight. To get good yields, bulbs of height 10-12 cm or more should be used for planting.
A specific seed rate of tulip plants cannot be calculated and seed treatment is also out of practice since propagation by means of seeds is generally not performed widely.
Irrigation methods for Tulip Farming.
Irrigation is carried out depending on the soil type and climate. However, alternate day irrigation should be carried out in case of greenhouse and polyhouse cultivation. For commercial cultivation in outdoor open areas, irrigation should be provided at weekly intervals. Drip irrigation should be adopted for economical use of water where water scarcity is a major problem, especially in the hilly areas. Appropriate soil moisture should be maintained throughout the growth period for a better quality of flowers and yield.
Mulching also retains good moisture conditions in the soil apart from preventing weed growth.
Fertilizer Requirements for Tulip Farming.
20 tonnes of FYM per hectare of land is added as a basal dose during the time of land preparation. Under appropriate soil moisture conditions, the rates of application of various fertilizers should be –
Phosphatic and potassic fertilizers should be applied at a depth of 8 cm before sowing the seeds. Besides those, micronutrients like Zinc, Copper, Manganese, Iron, Boron, etc. are also necessary. For commercial farms, fertigation methods should be adopted for achieving more efficiency.
Best Varieties for Tulip Farming.
Tulips are mainly classified into three groups namely, early flowering tulips, midseason tulips and late flowering tulips. However, some important commercial cultivars found in India include-
· Single Early
· Double Early
· Duc van Tol
· Double Late
Best practices for Tulip Farming.
Weed control or intercultural operations – For Tulip plants, 3 weeding operations at an interval of one or two months is 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 Tok E-25 at the rate of 2 kg per hectare or terbutryn at the rate of 1 kg per hectare can also be used in these 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 – For flower harvesting, Tulips start flowering in February-April in the mid-hills and April-June in the high hills. The flowers should be cut with two leaves when 25% to 50% color develops on the flower petals. The flowers should then be stored and stacked in cool and dry spaces and then transported to domestic as well as export markets.