ue to water saving, high profitability, availability of high yielding varieties and high demand for basmati in abroad, farmers prefer to cultivate this crop. Its cultivation demands less water and nutrients than paddy cultivation which is why it is also seen as an alternative to crop diversification. Due to low nutrient requirements, proper use of fertilizers is essential for successful and profitable cultivation of this crop. Excessive application of fertilizers not only increases the cost of cultivation but also increases the insect-pests and disease incidence on crop. Similarly, excessive use of fertilizers results in excessive vegetative growth which adversely affects the yield and quality due to crop lodging. Therefore, it is very important to use fertilizers judiciously in basmati crop. For this, the combined use of chemical and organic fertilizers, the recommended quantity of fertilizers according to the variety and method of sowing, and the proper timing and method of fertilizer application play an important role. It is generally recommended to apply fertilizers on the soil test basis for proper use of fertilizers in basmati. However, in the absence of soil test, Punjab Agricultural University recommends the following nutrient management practices in basmati.
For Direct Seeded Basmati Crop
In unpuddled direct seeded basmati crop, 54 kg urea per acre should be applied in three equal splits i.e. 3, 6 and 9 weeks after sowing. Phosphorus and potash should be applied only if the soil test shows deficiency of these nutrients. If the recommended amount of phosphorus fertilizer has been applied to the precedingwheat crop, then itsapplication should be omitted in basmati crop.
For Transplanted Basmati crop
Practicing green manuring in the field before transplanting basmati is very beneficial for the crop. There is no need to apply urea to basmati crop when field has been green manured with 45-55 days old sunnhemp/dhaincha or when summer moong residue has been incorporated after harvesting the crop.As in case of direct seeded basmati, phosphorus application should be skipped in transplanted basmati also, if the recommended phosphorus fertilizer has been added to the preceding wheat crop.
However, in phosphorus deficient soils, 75 kg superphosphate per acre should be applied before the last puddling. Different varieties of basmati require different amounts of nitrogen after transplanting. Therefore, basmati varietiesCSR 30, Basmati 386 and Basmati 370 should be applied with18 kg urea; Punjab Basmati 2, Punjab Basmati 3, Punjab Basmati 4, Punjab Basmati 5, Pusa Basmati 1121, Pusa Basmati 1637and Pusa Basmati 1718 should be appliedwith 36 kg urea and Pusa Basmati 1509 should be applied with 54 kg urea per acre. The above amount of urea should be broadcasted in the field in two equal splitsi.e. 3 and 6 weeks after transplanting. When applying urea, it is important to make sure that there is no standing water in the field. High doses of nitrogen application to basmati cause excessive vegetative growth and plant height which make the crop more prone to lodging.
PAU-Leaf Color Chart (PAU-LCC) can be used for need based applicationof urea to basmati crop. According to this technique, urea should not be applied at the time of transplanting as basal dose.Color of first fully exposed leaves from top of plant should start matching with the PAU-LCC at weekly interval after three weeks of transplanting. Every time, color of intact leavesof 10 plants free from insect-pests and disease incidence should be matched with PAU-LCC shades.
For Basmati 386, Basmati 370 and CSR 30 varieties,color of leaves should be matched with LCC shade 3.5 and for other varieties (Punjab Basmati 2, Punjab Basmati 3, Punjab Basmati 4, Punjab Basmati 5, Pusa Basmati 1121, Pusa Basmati 1509, Pusa Basmati 1637 and Pusa Basmati 1718), color should be matched with LCC shade 4. Whenever the greenness of 6 or more out of 10 leaves is lighter than the specified LCC shades, 9 kg urea per acre should be applied. However, no urea should be applied if color of 6 or more out of 10 leaves is equal to or darker than specified LCC shades.No more urea should be applied after the initiation of flowering.
ABOUT THE AUTHORS:
Dr. Vivek Kumar and Dr. Vajinder Pal are based at farm advisory service centre of the Punjab Agricultural University, in Barnala.