What is Ashwagandha plant and How to cultivate it 

India is known for its various traditional and medicinal crops. Medicines have been in our ancient scriptures for more than 3000 years old. Even in our holy epics such as Ramayana and Mahabharata, there is mention about the various medicinal plants and shrubs. In this article, we will talk about the medicinal plants named as Ashwagandha.

The scientific name of Ashwagandha is Withania Somnifera Dunal. Ashwagandha is used for its roots, seeds, and leaves which has the medicinal properties. It is used as a stress reliever and is used in treating senile dysfunctions. It is used on controlling depression, alcoholic paranoia, phobias, anxiety, and schizophrenia. The active ingredients present in Ashwagandha are alkaloids and steroidal lactones which have the medicinal properties.

It is perennial to annual plants with a height of about 30 cm to 120 cm. It has stellate and tomentose branches. Roots are tapering, fleshy and whitish brown, the fruits are orange-red berries, leaves are ovate and flowers are green in color

Cultivation Methods

  • Climate – It requires a tropical climate with a temperature between 20 degrees Celsius and 35 degrees Celsius. It is a drought-tolerant crop, which needs rainfall of about 60-75 cm and is grown in altitudes of 600-1200 meters. It is grown as a late rainy season crop with late winter rains as the typically conducive for proper development of the plant roots.
  • Soil – The soil required for the Ashwagandha cultivation is light red soil and sandy loam with a pH of 7.5 to 8.0, the soil must be loose, deep, and well-drained. The typical black or heavy soil having good drainage is also suitable for cultivation.
  • Land – The land must be better for the growth of its roots and there must not be any hindrances for the growth of the roots. The soil needs to be broadly plowed after receiving the pre-monsoon rains. The manure required per hectare is 10 to 20 tones must be mixed with soil and then planked.
  • Sowing time – The sowing season is done by the late monsoon season, early sowing may damage the crops due to heavy rains. The optimum sowing season is during the 2nd to 3rd week of August.
  • Method of Sowing – It must be sowed at the rate of 20 -35 kg per hectare. The sowing method is line sowing and raised bed sowing. The seeds are sown in the lines about 1 cm – 3 cm deep in the soil.
  • Seeds – The seeds must be sowed from the harvest of the last season that are good in quality and must be free from pests.
  • Varieties – The Jawahar Asgand-20 will yield roots of about 5 -6 quintal per hectare, The Jawhar Asgand – 134 will yield roots of about 6 – 8 quintal per hectare, and Rai Vijay Ashwagandha – 100 will yield about 6 – 7 quintal per hectare. 
  • Seed rate – Around 10 -12 kg of seeds are enough per hectare of crops. The sowing must be done with the plant to plant distance of 10 cm and row to row spacing of 30 to 15 cm
  • Crop Nutrition – Soil testing must be done before applying the nutrition and nutrition application must be optimum. Organic nutrition is preferred over inorganic nutrition. The fertilizer dose must be 25 kg of Phosphorous, 15 kg of Nitrogen and 10 -15 tones of Organic manure per hectare must be applied. The organic manures must be green manure, vermicompost, and farmyard manure.
  • Irrigation – The water applied must be good quality water, the organic mulches such as wheat straw or Ashwagandha straw from previous harvests must be applied in between the rows to conserve the soil moisture and facilitate better water draining.
  • Deweeding and other operations – The plant population of 3 to 6 lakh plants per hectare is the optimum plant growth. Deweeding must be done every early during the growth of the Ashwagandha plants. The use of chemical herbicides must be prohibited as it is medicinal plants.
  • Insect pest and disease control – The use of cultural methods such as trap crops, companion crops, crop rotation, timely irrigation, balanced plant nutrition, and biological methods such as parasites, predators, and biopesticides and mechanical methods such as light traps must be used for protection from pests and insects. The plant is damaged by hadda beetle and aphid insects, so to control 2 to 2 spray of Daimethoate or Azadirachtin at 1% and Flavanoids at 6% is recommended. The seeds before sowing must be treated with Carbofuran used at the rate of 2-2.5 kg per hectare. Leaf damage can be controlled with the spraying of Mancozed about 12.3%. Cow urine, neem cakes, chitrakmool, and data can be used as biopesticides.
  • Harvesting – The crop is ready for harvesting in January – March season which is approximately 180 days after sowing the seeds. The plant will start flowering and bearing fruits from December onwards

How do farmers benefit by growing it 

Aswagandha has tremendous benefits and cultivation of the roots, leaves, plants, and fruits have various economic benefits, such as the demand for this is constantly raising in the domestic and international markets, so have good export potential. Thus people are looking for natural sources such as Ashwagandha for diseases such as depressions and stress. The plant has demand in the cosmetics and pharmaceutical industries. The Ashwagandha plant for weight loss is getting attention in India and all over the world

Ashwagandha plant uses

  1. It is a prominent ayurvedic medicine
  2. Used for controlling the blood sugar levels
  3. Have anti-cancer properties
  4. Is used to treat the stress naturally by reducing the cortisol levels
  5. Reduces the stress and anxiety in the patients
  6. Used for treatment of depression
  7. Is used to boost testosterone and increases fertility in men
  8. Reduces inflammation
  9. Increases muscle mass and strength
  10. Lowers cholesterol and triglycerides
  11. Improves brain function and boosts memory
  12. Used as a supplement to reduce weight