Lilium is among demanded cut flowers in the international trade due to its uniqueness, varied colours, good shelf life and easy cultivation under open field conditions or shade.
Thecrop is highly profitable and ensures Rs 2 lakh returns from 500 m2 with a growing cycle of 3 to 6 months depending upon the aim of cultivation which may be for cut flower purposes or for bulb production.
Kashmir is highly suitable for cultivation of lilium for two reason, one is off season cultivation and second is its important from niche point of view. In plains of India as well in some south Indian conditions lilium is cultivated for cut flower purposes and the demand of bulbs for the same is met from Netherland, but in Kashmir it can be grown for cut flower as well as for bulb production purposes.
The demand in Delhi market only on daily basis is around 5,000 bundles which means 60,000 spikes. This invites a great potential and scope for cultivation of lilium which assures huge returns from April to November which is off season cultivation.
Second important point to note is that it is risk free to cultivate it on commercial scale in Kashmir and during less market demand we can put the crop under bulb production even if it is ready to harvest. Cultivating lilium is easy but one must know how to cultivate it.
Following are the things one must know before initiating cultivation of lilium.
Among lilium the most demanded in market from cut flower point of view include Asiatic, Oriental, OT, LO and LA hybrids. Although Asiatic and Oriental lilies are famous in cut ?ower trade but introduction of LO,LA and OT hybrids has diversified the lilium trade. Oriental and OT lilies have fragrant ?owers. LA hybrids are increasing in popularity compared to the Asiatic hybrids. LA hybrids generally have a larger ?ower size and the ?owers are more clustered at the top of the stem, more upward facing than Oriental lilies. LO hybrids provide unique ?ower with good market accessibility.
Chemical Sterilization: Hydrogen peroxide with silver 35 ml per liter of water and 1 L/m is required for sterilization. Planting can be done 6 hours after treatment. In market multi component complex formulation containing hydrogen peroxide and silver in nano form are available.
Formalin is used as well for soil sterilization and the ratio is 1: 10 (formalin: water).After treatment the soil is covered with plastic for 7 days which is followed by removal of traces with water at the ratio of 1 m: 100 L of water. After 2 weeks of this process, planting can be carried out.
Soil preparation: Soil should be ploughed and 2 to 3 Kg of Well rotten FYM to be incorporated. 2-3 Kg/m of well rotten FYM should be thoroughly mixed with soil before planting. Good structure soil particularly the top layers and well drained is pre requisite for Lilium. During soil preparation60g CAN,MOP 60 g or DAP 30-40g should be incorporated so as to avoid any nutritional decency.
Soil pH plays a vital role in the development of roots and is important factor for nutrient uptake. Care should be taken to maintain soil pH of 6 to 7 and chlorine level to be maintained below1.5 mmol /lit. Bulbs should be planted in fertile and permeable soil otherwise the bulbs may rot.
Use of moisture retention and soil sterilization chemicals: Now a days in market different products are available for soil moisture retention and soil sterilization. Application of these chemicals varies from product to product. Nano based products are available which are mixed with soil during soil preparation and this ensures moisture retension, safe guards the soil from harmful microbes and enriches soil through nutrient mobilization.
Raised beds and planting raised beds are important for Liliumproduction as it helps to improve drainage as well as help in preventing disease and problems caused by root rots. Planting method Depth of planting bulbs and spacing plays an important role in quality produce. Depth of planting is related to size of bulb but as a thumb rule lilium bulbs are planted at 6 inches depth.
Keeping in view its moisture loving nature, soil is irrigated after planting frequently which will decline soil about an inch. Deep planting ensures excellent results from rootdevelopment point of view. Shallow planting will result in poor stem root development and hence one compromise on the quality of the lower. Planting depth varies according to the size of the bulb. Generally bulb should be planted to the depth of three times more than the diameter of the bulb.
Planting time: March-April is the ideal time for planting Lilium bulbs from bulb production point of view as it encourages the length of growth cycle which helps in proper bulb and propagate development. For cut lower purposes, planting season include March-April and July-August. Bulbs can be stored at -2 to 2 degreeCelsius for lower regulation purposes.
Irrigation:Lack of frequent watering produces shorter stems so soil should not be allowed to dry out. However general rule is that the plants are watered frequently during growth stage keeping in view the thumb rule that soil should not dry out. Watering requirement is less after the end of the reproductive phase. EC of irrigation water should be 0.5 ms /cm or lower. The maximum acceptable Chlorine level of irrigation water used for greenhouse irrigation is 200 ppm. Moisten the soil few days before planting to enable rooting to start straight after planting. Because the stem roots develop in the top layer, it must be kept constantly moist. The amount of water depends on type of soil, greenhouse climate and the variety. Water requirement in summer is 6 to 8 lit / m/ day, Water requirement in other season is 4 to 5 lit / m/ day.
Use of Bio-fertilizers and Fertilization: Bulbs and bulb plants respond well to organic formulation which may be manures or bio-fertilizers. Bulbs need a treatment with Azotobacter, PSB and KSB combination so that its pace of development in terms of qualitative and quantitative traits can be enhanced. Before and during the blooming period it is recommended to use a fertilizer with the considerable amount of phosphorus and potassium.
Temperature:Initial temperature of 12 to13°C is required for root development. During the cultivation stage the optimum daily temperature requirement is between 15 to 22ºC. Temperature below 15°C can result in bud drop and yellowing of the foliage in oriental hybrids. The optimum temperature for LAs and Asiatics is 50–55°F and 62–65°F whereas for Oriental, OTs, LOs 58–62°F and 65–68°F is considered ideal. OT, Oriental and LOs show decreased performance below 55°F.
Humidity: Relative humidity inside the greenhouse should be 80 to 85 %. It is important to avoid large ?uctuation in humidity levels which will cause stress and leaf scorch in susceptible varieties.
Light affect the growth of lilium and their development. Depending on the time of year, the location of production, amount of light penetrating in greenhouse and the variety, lighting may even be essential. The insufficient minimum light intensity in the greenhouse for Asiatic hybrids is 190 Joules/cm. Insufficient light results in inadequate growth and bud drop. Asiatic hybrids are most susceptible to bud drop as compared to oriental and longi?orum. Shade net Shading not only reduces temperatures but also avoid leaf scorching on the plant.
The percentage of shading depends on the light conditions at the site and time of the year. 50% to 75% shade nets are recommended for Lilium depending upon cultivar and season. Green house to control high temperature and proper ventilation is required. It is advisable to build a structure with a top ventilation gap of minimum 3 feet to have proper ventilation inside the greenhouse. Depending on design and size of the greenhouse one can have a provision for side ventilation as well.
Deheading : It is an important practice for bulb production. It involves removal of ?ower heads especially of stocks. Deheaded stocks yield a greater number of large bulbs with superior quality. The operation of deheading consist of snapping-off or preferably cutting off with knife, the blooms just below the ?ower. When the indication of color appears in the ?owers, it is probably the best time for deheading.
Drainage: Bulbs need good drainage because they will rot under wet soil moisture conditions. Therefore plant them in well-drained soil and raised beds. As a thumb rule avoid planting bulbs where water stands after a rain. A good loam soil is best. If the soil is heavy clay, add organic matter such as compost or peat moss to loosen it.
Schedule can be adopted.
1) Recommended dose of nutrients (Kg/Ha): N 125-150 kg/ha, P22-33, K210-250 Mg.
2) Optimum temperature should be 15 to 22ºC and optimum humidity 80 to 85 %.
3) Optimum light intensity of 190 Joules/cm. Shading net: 50% agro white shade.
4) Irrigation: 6 to 8 lit / m/ day.
5) Harvesting of flower: Harvestcut lilies 8 to 10 cm above the ground and avoid stem drying. Harvesting is done when lower most bud shows color (color breaking stage) but is not open.
6) Grading of cut ?owers is done on the basis of number of buds per stem. Removal of around 10cm of foliage from the base before bunching is pre requisite.
7) Bulb Harvesting: Maintain optimum moisture of soil till the foliage withers. It takes 4-5 weeks and harvest bulbs in such a way that no bulb injury occurs. Bulbs should be washed properly and treatment of bulbs with 2%fungicidal solution for 10 minutes duration is recommended followed by shade drying.
8) Storage of bulbs is done in crates in media and coca peat has been considered ideal.
Asiatic hybrids: 8 - 10 weeks.
Oriental hybrids: 14 - 16 weeks.
Yield: The average yield is 30 - 40 ?ower stems/m2.