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Cultivation of dhattura - Datura metal Linn., Datura stramonium, ..

dhattura :

dhattura  : Datura metal Linn., Datura stramonium, Datura alba Nees


Datura grows well in a wide range of climate from tropical to temperate conditions. The plant thrives best in areas of low rainfall where winter and monsoon rains are followed by long dry periods. Areas with annual rainfall below 1000mm with mean temperature of 10- 15oC in winter and 27 - 28oC in May-June are ideal. The crop cannot stand frost, high rainfall or high temperature in the plains in May-June. It grows on majority of soils, however, alkaline or neutral clay loam soil or those tending to saline-alkaline reaction rich in organic matter are ideal for vigorous growth. The clayey, acidic, water-logged or moisture deficient soils do not suit this crop.


The plant is propagated by seeds but it is characterised by poor and often erratic seed germination which can be improved either by leaching out the inhibitor from the seeds or by alternate freezing and thawing of seeds. The optimum season for raising the crop is Rabi in tropical and subtropical areas while Kharif in temperate areas. The seeds can be broadcast - sown or seedlings can be raised in nursery and then transplanted. Seed rate is 7-8 kg/ha for broadcasting and 2-3 kg/ha. for transplanting. The field is ploughed and disced adequately to produce fine seed bed. In the case of direct seeding, seeds are drilled in rows taken 45-60 cm apart. The plants are thinned to keep a spacing of 30-45 cm at the time of first weeding. In the case of transplanting 4-6 weeks old seedlings are planted at 45-60 x 30-45 cm spacing. The field should be irrigated immediately after sowing or planting if soil moisture is inadequate. Thereafter 3-4 irrigations may be given if sufficient rainfall is not received. Application of organic manure at 10-15 t/ha and fertilisers at 60:40:40 kg N, P2O5 and K2O/ha is recommended for the crop for better growth and yield N may be applied in 3-4 equal split doses at planting and after each weeding which is required 2-3 times during the growing season. Application of micronutrients is reported to improve the alkaloid contents. 

No major insect pest is known to attack this crop. However, leaf spot, wilt and mosaic diseases cause damage to this crop. Leaf spot is caused by Alternaria tennuissima (Nees) Wiltshire and characterised by brown round to oval spots, becoming necrotic at later stage which leads to withering and dropping of leaves. Wilt is caused by Sclerotium rolfsii Sace; it starts with dropping of leaves and finally wilting of the entire plant. Root and foot wilt, caused by Corticium solani, appears as damping off of seedlings and mature plants. Datura distortion mosaic is characterised by yellowing of the veins followed by inward rolling and distortion of leaves with a reduction in plant size. For reducing the impact of these diseases, field sanitation, use of resistant varieties, crop rotation for 3-4 years and fungicide application should be resorted to. For the purpose of leaf and top, harvesting is done as soon as flowering starts. Entire top containing leaves and twigs is cut, dried in shade and stored in gunny bags. For seed and fruit, fully grown fruits, still green are picked 2-3 times before final harvest when the entire plant is cut from the base and dried in the open. The dried fruits are then thrashed with a stick to separate the seeds. The seed yield is 1-1.5 t/ha. (Husain, 1993; Kaul and Singh, 1995) 

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