Potential of floriculture as a viable agricultural business dates back to 1910 when Alsmeer market in Netherland was developed. It has become a potential money spinner for third world countries as there has been a tremendous increase in demand and consumption of the floriculture industry.
Different factors have developed the potential of commercial floriculture which include increase in population and aesthetic taste of people. Consequently, the demand for flower seeds for landscaping of houses, educational institutes, roads, farm-complexes and industrial units has increased.
In India, seed and bulb production is accomplished in various states like Punjab, Haryana, H.P, West Bengal and one among them is Jammu and Kashmir. Jammu and Kashmir is endowed with diverse agro-climate conditions and offers immense scope for seed production. The concept of flower seed production was the first successful effort in the flower industry during the early 80s. Area under seed production in J&K is 30 ha. 300-350 million total value of flower seeds worldwide annually. Punjab, Karnataka, Maharashtra and W.B produce majority of flower seeds.
Ageratum, Aster, Antirrhinum, Balsam, Celosia, Cosmos, Candytuft, California, Poppy, Carnation, Galliardia, Gazania, Holly hocks, Heliehrysum, Larkspur, Marigold, Pansy, Phlox, Petunia, Salvia, Verbena, Zinnia, Gypsophilla etc are the annual crops seed which is in great demand at national as well as at international level and has great scope of commercialization. In India, about 600-800 ha area is under seed production of ornamentals. Of these, Punjab alone contributes for 45-50% seed producing areas, the rest being contributed by Karnataka, West Bengal, Himachal Pradesh and Haryana. Punjab has 450 hectares under flower seed production with a turnover of over 60 million.
Prospects of seed and bulb production in Kashmir
State of J&K has a long tradition of flower growing and seed production. Over-here, it is an age-old practice. Undoubtedly, the seed production continued here but the efforts were unorganized and thus the need of the hour is to explore the existing potential of J&K for its seed production and to enter into a sound business of supplying seeds not only to national but to International market as well. Future prospects of seed production include:
Export of Seed: -
Kashmir fulfils all the necessary requirements in terms of agro climatic conditions and resources for quality seed production which has domestic as well as international demand. Seed production of annuals has a great scope through double cropping in a year as the seasons for seed production are scattered under the summer and winter category of crops.
Varied agro-climatic conditions provide opportunity for cultivating the flowers under natural conditions for extended periods and under different conditions. This ensures production of seeds throughout the year in natural habitats. Favorable climatic conditions allow a long growth cycle of crops which in turn gives best quality production.
Employment generation: -
Seed production is a labour intensive process and requires a huge labor force. Therefore, this floriculture sector holds a capacity to generate employment for thousands of youths.
Minting Money: -
Seed production can generate revenue worth crores, when done on scientific lines. Money spinner out of this industry will be more than for other horticultural and agricultural products and basic inputs are minimum to start a venture.
1. Policy initiative -
Seed production is either confined to the people with home lawns or to a few commercial growers who produce these on little larger scales, but the production level is still meager to compete in the market. Serious efforts at regional and support of national schemes has to be facilitated to boost seed production at mega scale through contract type of farming.
2. Scientific Intervention
Seed production is still practiced on the basis of tradition and change in the agro-technology by growing crops on scientific lines is the need of the hour. Selection of variety, production module, and harvesting and post harvest management are few key concerns to be addressed for qualitative and quantities produced.
Seed production industry requires infrastructure development for production, processing and packaging like polyhouses, seed sowing machines and processing machines etc which is lacking as far as seed production of annuals is concerned. Lack of infrastructure support is a major concern for initiating commercial production.
4. Awareness about Profitability
Flower growing with farmers has remained confined to small areas due to lack of awareness about the profitability. Mass awareness among the farmers about the profitability of this business and its potential benefits has to be taken up.
5. Skilled Development
Seed production is a technologically intensive activity and needs capacity building on the production module. One of the important prerequisites is to upgrade the skills of the workforce.
6. Efficient Seed Programme: -
Identification of best areas of quality seed production, market survey on domestic and export demand of seeds, identification of cultivars for a particular crop and promotion of seed trade are the areas to be covered under efficient seed programmes .
7. Financial Sources: -
Financial source to be identified and facilitated for procuring of planting material, shade nets, , irrigation and fertilizing system etc will help in promoting the Industry.
8. System of Marketing
Connection with the various markets of the country and non-availability of proper auction centers to be identified. Planned marketing system will promote this business venture.
SEED PRODUCTION TECHNIQUES
Agronomic Principles: -
Seed production technology involves agronomic principles used to preserve the high quality of seeds. Agronomic principles can be studied under the following heading.
Agro-climate and location: -
The variety of crop to be grown for seed production must have a suitable agro-climate, adapted to the photoperiod and temperature conditions prevailing in that location. Specific selected locations would be needed to economically grow crop varieties sensitive to photoperiods and temperature. Moderate rainfall humidity is much suitable for seed production.
Desirable characteristics of land selected for seed crops include: -
• Seed plots should have soil texture and fertility characteristics as required by the crop.
• Plot should be free from volunteer plants and seeds of weeds and other crop plants.
• The soil of the selected plot should be comparatively free from soil borne diseases and pests.
• The same crop or a variety should not have been cultivated during the previous season on the plot selected for seed production.
• Plot must be leveled and feasible for isolation as per the requirements of certification standards.
Isolation Distance: -
Crop must be sufficiently isolated from nearby fields of some or other contaminating crops as per the requirements of certification standards. The seed crop should be isolated by providing enough distance between seed plots and contaminating fields. Dianthus chinensis,D. caryophyllus, D. barabatus, Lathyrus odoratus, Lupinus sp. and Impatiens balsamina are Self-pollinated crops and require no isolation distance where as Antirrhinum sp., Godetia sp., Linaria sp., Lobelia sp., Petunia sp., Phlox sp., Salvia splendens, Verbena sp. and Viola tricolor are often cross pollinated and require 100 m isolation distance and Althea rosea, Alyssum sp., Calendula sp., Celosia plumosa, Centaura sp., Chrysamthemum sp., Clarkia sp., Cosmos sp., Coreopsis sp., Gaidardia sp., Gomphrena sp., Helianthus sp., Helichrysum sp., Iberis sp., Impatiens sp. and Zinnia sp. are Cross pollinated and require 400 m isolation distance.
Selection of a suitable variety is important for production of seeds. Normally, varieties which produce seeds profusely should be selected. The variety selected should suit the prevailing agro-climatic conditions and should be high yielding.
Seed Sowing: -
Seeds used should be of known purity, appropriate class and obtained from authorized official agencies. The seeds may require treatment before sowing. This is called as ‘Pre-conditioning’ several techniques used for it are:
• Abrasion (such as rubbing with sandpaper or tumbling in drums with loose sand or gravel.
• Soaking the seed in hot water and allowing it to cool over twelve to twenty four hour periods.
• Soaking the seeds in concentrated sulphuric acid until the seed coat is paper thin but the embryo not yet affected.
Sowing time: -
Sowing time of seeds of summer season annuals mid April -mid may and Winter Season Annuals mid September- mid November
Sowing Method: -
The seed crop generally sown in rows by mechanical drillers allows the desired quantity of seeds to be planted at a uniform depth. The sowing equipment must be thoroughly clean to avoid contamination. Adequate spacing within rows and distance between rows are given as per crop requirement to allow air and sunlight to each developing inflorescences at the plant base. Small seed is generally sown shallow and large seed a little deeper to secure good planting. Seed emergence is better from greater depths in sandy soils than in clayey soils and as well as from warmer soil.
Rouging, Pollination and Weed Control: -
Adequate and timely rouging constitutes the single most important operation in seed production. Rogues differing from normal (weak or sickly plants, bolters and off types) are pulled out and discarded at the earliest possible phase.
Supplementary pollination provided by honey bees in close proximity to seed crops that are cross pollinated by insects may be necessary to good seed set and nearby increase seed yield.
Irrigation, nutrition and plant protection: -
Irrigation is essential to obtain good seed yield irrigation may be required before planting and at suitable intervals up to flower. One or two irrigation may be desirable for many seed crops. The frequency of irrigation and amount of water supplied depends upon the physical texture of the soil, rainfall and crop requirement. Seed crops are rather sensitive to moisture stress at the vegetative, flowering and maturity stages. The irrigation should be stopped 2-3 weeks before seed maturity to ensure drier conditions needed for harvesting.
Adequate amounts of N, P and K and other essential minerals are crucial for proper growth and development of seed crops. It is, therefore, necessary to know the nutritional requirements of any individual seed crop and to ensure proper nutrition at all the stages of crop growth.
Harvesting or seed collection: -
The irrigation should be withheld, fortnight before starting picking of flowers or seeds of annuals. The seed collection should be started before splitting of pods or shattering of seeds at proper maturity as soon as the plants complete their life cycle. In most of the seasonal flowers maturity of seeds is not achieved at uniform time. For this reason, 3-4 pickings are essential for complete harvesting of seeds. Seeds of most of the winter annuals become ready for collection from 1st week of April and onwards. In summer annuals like Zinnia and Cosmos (if grown as summer annual), seed collection is done in August – September and in Celosia sp. and Cocks comb in mid September onwards.
Methods of seed collection: -
• Hand Picking: -
Simplest method of seed collection is by individual picking of mature seeds from flowers or pods or whole flowers. This method is labour intensive and time consuming. Cosmos sp., Calendula sp., Gaillardia sp., Gazania sp., Helichrysum sp, Tagetus sp., Nicotiana sp., Voila sp., Petunia sp., Verbena sp., Zinnia sp. are harvest by this method
In this, methods, seeds are shattered by gentle tapping of cluster of flowers by hand or wooden frames on plastic sheets or come trays, etc. This method is easy as it allows a little quicker seed collection than previous method. Alyssum sp., Bellis sp., Celosia sp., Amaranthus sp., Linaria sp, Dianthus sp. are harvest by this method
• Hand picking followed by cutting of inflorescence:
Initial seed collection is by hand picking and complete inflorescence is removed when more than 50% of seed or pods indicate full maturity. The inflorescence of the plant is first titled into a plastic basket or on a plastic sheet so that the seeds do not shatter down and then inflorescence is cut by using scateur. Amaranthus sp., Antrirhinum sp., Celosia sp., Creopsis sp., Delphinium sp., Verbena sp., Petunia sp. are harvested by this method.
• Whole plant harvesting:
It is the easiest method of seed collection. Complete plant is harvested at full maturity of seeds and shade dried for a few days, for shattering of seeds from flowers. Then, thrashing or gentle rubbing is done for collection of seeds. Seeds should be shade dried and cleaned from flower residues, weed seeds, inert broken seeds etc. Nowadays, certain machines based on the principle of vaccumizer are being used for easy collection and cleaning of seeds. Linaria sp., Tropeolum sp. are harvested by this method.
Seed Storage: -
Well ventilated, moisture free storage is pre requisite for successful storage. Ordinary, Temporary Shelters Or Stores, Storage In Vapour Proof Containers, Storage In Polythene Bags, Air-Cooled Seed Storage And Refrigerated Storage are Followed In Ornamental Seed Crops.