Cultivation of Vanilla plant: Complete guide on Vanilla plant farming involves in seed treatment, planting, pest management, irrigation, harvesting and uses.
Scientific name of VANILLA (Vanilla planifolia Lin) Orchidaceae:
Vanilla is a flavor derived from orchids of the genus Vanilla, primarily from the Mexican species, flat-leaved vanilla . The word vanilla, derived from the diminutive of the Spanish word vaina (vaina itself meaning sheath or pod), translates simply as “little pod”.
Vanilla Leaves, Flowers & Green pods
No named varieties
Lateritic soil rich in humus having good drainage.
Natural Vanilla Seeds
Humid tropical climate with an annual rainfall of 150 – 300 cms (well distributed for a period of 9 months and dry period of 3 months).
Elevation: 700 – 1500 m MSL and with latitude of 100 N and 200 S
Temperature: 210 C – 320 C.
Glyricidia sp, Erythrina indica, Jatropha curcus, Plumeria alba and Casuarina equisetifolia.
Planting during on-set of rain after summer during May and June.
Season for vanilla planting:
6 months after planting standards (i.e.) September – October – November.
Stem cuttings of 60 – 120 cm
Plains: 2.0 to 2.5 m X 1.2 – 1.5 m
Hills: 1.5 x 1.5 m
Pit size 30 cm3 for standards and for planting of vanilla cuttings. Place 2 nodes of unrooted cuttings of 60 – 120 cm below the soil surface.
Train the vines to a height of 1.2 to 1.5 m. Then trained horizontally or allowed to grow downward towards the ground. Horizontally trained vines are coiled round the pole connecting the two supporting trees. Vines trained to grow downward is allowed to touch the soil and allowed to root and again brought back upward on the same supporting tree and the same procedure is repeated.
Mulch the vine with pruned vegetation 2 – 3 times in a year.
Recommended dose of fertilizers:
Apply 40 – 60: 20 – 30: 60 – 100 g of NPK per vine per year. It is given in 2 to 3 splits. Spray 1 % solution of 17: 17: 17 NPK mixture once in a month for boosting growth and flower production.
Flowering starts in the third year of planting during December – January. Pinching of top 7.5 – 10 cm of vine 6 – 8 months before flowering seasons encourages flower bud initiation. Pruning of older fruiting branches also encourages flower production. Each inflorescence consists of 15 – 20 flowers.
The artificial pollination is useful in vanilla and pollination must be done on the same day as flowers start opening from 4.00 am and extend upto 1.00 pm. About 10 to 20 inflorescence may be pollinated in a vine.
Normally 5 to 6 flowers in the lower side of inflorescence are pollinated. Hand pollination is done using a needle or a piece of pointed wood or a tooth pick to lift the hood covering the anther cap so that the anthers are brought into contact with stigma A skilled worker can pollinate 1000 – 1500 flowers in a day.
Vanilla Immature Beans & Vanilla Beans
Leaf eating beetles, Feeding bugs and Caterpillars:
Spraying quinolphos 0.05 %.
Infection starts in the axil of the leaf and spread to nodal region resulting in rot.
Spraying and drenching of 0.1 % Carbendazim.
Addition of organics also reduces the intensity of the disease.
Vanilla Fusarium wilt
It causes rotting of beans, leaves and stems.
Spraying Bordeaux mixture 1 % or soil drenching with Copper oxy chloride 0.2 %
Sclerotium rot :
It occurs in root tips and later extends to whole root system followed by yellowing and wilting of
vines. Soil drenching of Carbendazim 0.1 %
Sclerotium rot in Vanilla
Shoot tip rot and Sclerotium rot:
Soil drenching of Carbendazim 0.1 %
Shoot tip rot in Vanilla
The pods are ready for harvest in 6 to 9 months after flowering. The matured beans change colour from green to pale yellow. The right picking stage is when the distal end of the pod turns yellow. Daily picking of matured pod is essential. The pods are harvested by cutting with a knife.
Harvesting & Drying Vanilla Beans
Average cured bean yield is 300 to 600 kg / ha / year.
6 kg of green pods produces 1 kg of cured beans.
The economic life of vine is 12 – 14 years.
A major use of vanilla is in flavoring ice cream. The most common flavor of ice cream is vanilla, and thus most people consider it to be the “default” flavor. By analogy, the term “vanilla” is sometimes used as a synonym for “plain”. Although vanilla is a prized flavoring agent on its own, it is also used to enhance the flavor of other substances, to which its own flavor is often complementary, such as chocolate, custard, caramel, coffee, cakes, and others.
Vanilla Ice Cream
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