NURSERY RAISING & PLANTING
The crop can be propagated by seed, stem cutting and root cuttings. Seed propagation is the best method for raising commercial plantation.
By root cutting: Nearly 5 cm long root cutting are planted during spring season closely in nursery beds containing well matured FYM, sand and saw-dust. The beds are kept moist through watering. The cuttings begin to sprout within 3 weeks. These can be planted in field during rainy season after 8 to 10 cm rains are received; the seedlings are transplanted at 45 cm row to row and 30 cm plant to plant distance. In this manner, an estimated 100 kg of root cuttings are found sufficient for planting
one hectare area.
By stem cuttings: Hard wooded stem cutting measuring 15 to 22 cm are closely planted during June in the nursery beds where continuous moisture is maintained.
After sprouting and giving out roots, these plants are transplanted in the main field at given spacing.
By root stumps: About 5 cm of roots, intact with a portion of stem above the collar, are directly transplanted in the field having irrigation facilities.
By seed: Seed germination in Rauvolfia is highly variable. It is reported to vary from 5 to 30 percent even when only heavy seeds are chosen for sowing purpose. Light and heavy seeds can easily be separated by simple water flotation. Germination of heavy seeds during May-June after soaking them in water for 24 hours was 20-40 percent and 62.77 percent germination was recorded in freshly collected heavy seed lot. In all, 6 kg of seeds are sufficient to raise one-hectare plantation.
In Maharashtra and Madhya Pradesh, April end, in West Bengal first week of May or little later, and in Jammu & Dehradun during third week of May are found to be most suitable time for sowing seed in the nursery. The nursery is prepared by raised beds of 10x10 m. dimension under partial shade made up of one-third of well matured FYM and leaf mould, and two-thirds amount medium of silt-loam soil. About 500 sq m. seed bed area is sufficient for raising seedlings enough for planting one hectare land. The seeds sown, 2-3 cm apart in rows in shallow furrows during April end. The furrows are then covered with a fine mixture of soil and FYM. Keep the beds just moist by light watering. Germination starts after 15-20 days and continues up to 30 to 40 days. Seedlings are ready by mid-July for transplanting. The seedlings are transplanted at 30 cm distance within the rows spaced at 45 cm. If rains are not received during or immediately after transplantation irrigation is necessary for better stand. Rauvolfia is long duration (18 months) and slow growing crop particularly in the initial stage; thus different intercrops have been tried.