Plantago ovata

ISABGOL
Plantago ovata Forsk.
Family-Plantaginaceae
A 10-1 5cm tall short-stemmed annual herb. Leaves are born alternately on the stem. Flowers in terminal spikes; fruit a capsule. Seeds are translucent and concavo-convex.

Common Names: Ishagola, Isabghul, Spogel seed, Ispaghal
Distribution: Indigenous to the Mediterranean region and West Asia, It has been introduced in India & cultivated especially in Gujarat and some parts of Rajasthan.
Part Used: Husk from spikes and seeds.

CULTIVATION
Soil and Climate: It is an irrigated crop, which grows well on light soils; soil with poor drainage is not conducive for good growth of this crop. A silty-loam soil having pH from 4.7 to 7.7 with high nitrogen and low moisture content is ideal for growth of plants and high yield of seeds.

Isabgol thrives well in warm-temperate regions. It requires cool and dry weather and is sown during winter months. Sowing during first week of November gives best yields. Early sowing makes the crop vulnerable to downy mildew disease, whereas late sowing provides lesser period of growth in winter along with possibility of shattering of seeds due to summer rains in April-May. At maturity, if the weather is humid, its seeds shatter resulting reduction in yield. Heavy dew or even a light shower will proportionately decrease the yield, at times leading to even total loss of the crop. The temperature requirement for maximum seed germination is reported to be 20 to 30°C.

LAND PREPARATION
Field must be free of weeds and clods. The number of ploughings, harrowing and hoeing depends upon the soil conditions, previous crop and degree of weed infestation. About 10-15 tonnes of FYM per hectare is mixed into the soil at the time of last ploughing. The field should be divided into suitable plots of convenient size, depending upon the texture of the soil, the slope of the field and quantum of irrigation. For light soil with even contour, plot size of 8.0 m x 3.0 m will be convenient.

Nursery Raising And Planting
To obtain high percentage of germination, seeds should be taken from the crop harvested at the end of the preceding crop season. Old seeds tend to lose viability under ordinary storage conditions. Seeds at the rate of 4-8 kg per hectare are sown after treating it with any mercurial seed-dresser at the rate of 3 g/kg of seed, to protect the seedlings from the possible attack of damping off.

The seeds are small and light. Hence before sowing, the seeds are mixed with sufficient quantity of fine sand or sieved farmyard manure. The seeds are broadcasted because sowing in lines at different spacing does not increase the seed yield. After broadcasting, seeds are swept lightly with a broom to cover them with some soil. Broom however, should be swept in one direction only, to avoid deep burial of the seed for uniform germination. The sowing should immediately be followed by irrigation. Germination begins in four days after sowing. If delayed, it should be stimulated by another watering.

WEEDING AND HOEING
Periodical weeding and hoeing is required.

MANURE/FERTILIZER
Isabgol does not require the application of heavy doses of fertilizers. A fertilizer dose consisting of 50 kg of N. 25 kg of P2O5 and 30 kg of K2 O (NPK) per hectare has given the maximum seed yield. The full dose of phosphorus and potassium along with half of the nitrogen is given as a basal dose at the time of sowing itself and the second split dose of nitrogen is applied as a top dressing after one month of sowing.

IRRIGATION
Immediately after sowing, light irrigation is essential. First irrigation should be given with light flow or shower of water otherwise, with fast current of water most of the seeds will be swept to one side of the plot and the germination and distribution will not be uniform. The seeds germinate in 6-7 days. If the germination is poor, second irrigation should be given. Later on irrigations are given as and when required. Last irrigation should be given at the time when maximum number of spikes shoots up. The crop requires 6-7 irrigations for its good productivity in medium sandy soils.

HARVESTING/POST HARVESTING OPERATION
Blooming begins two months after sowing and the crop become ready for harvest in February-March (110-130 days after sowing). When mature, the crop turns yellowish and the spikes turn brownish. The seeds are shed when the spikes are pressed even slightly. At the time of harvest, the atmosphere must be dry and there should be no moisture on the piant; harvesting will lead to considerable seed shattering. Hence, the crop should be harvested after 10. am.

YIELD
Gujarat Isabgol-1, variety yields 800-900 kg of seeds per hectare. The new variety 'Gujarat Isabgol-2 has a potential to yield 1,000 kg of seeds per hectare.

ECONOMICS
Expenditure per ha. Rs. 25,000/-
Return per ha. Rs. 63,000/-
Net income Rs. 38,000/-
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