Common name: Khasi: Kwai; Hindi:
Betel nut or supari
Composition & Uses
composition of marketed arecanut depends on maturity of the
nuts, since processed arecanuts are made from both green and
ripe nuts. The major constituents are Polyphenols, fat,
polysaccharides, fibre and protein.Alkaloid, arecoline, is
present as a minor but significant constituent.Polyphenol
content decreases with increasing maturity, hence tender nuts
have better protection from infection compared to ripe nuts. The
hardening of nuts during maturity is due to formation of
popularly known as betel nut or supari, is the source of common
masticatory. As an essential requisite for several religious and
social ceremonies in India, arecanut is extensively used by all
sections of society.
Chemical composition of green and ripe arecanuts
Constituents in percentage
Values are expressed as percentage on dry-weight basis except
extensively cultivated in the tropical region. It is mostly
confined to 28° North and South of the equator. It grows within
a temperature range of 14°-36° C and temperature below 10° C and
beyond 40° C adversely affects the crop. Due to susceptibility
to low temperature, the palms do not perform well at altitude of
1,000 m above mean sea-level. It requires ample supply of soil
moisture and plentiful of rainfall throughout the year
(1,500-5,000 mm). It is sensitive to drought and in areas with
low rainfall (< 750 mm/year), irrigation is necessary.
It can be
grown in a variety of soils such as laterites, red loams and
alluvial. The depth of soil may not be less than 1 m. The soil
should be well drained without high water table. It can come up
in soils acidic to neutral pH.
perennial, seed-propagated crop, much care is to be bestowed on
the production and selection of planting materials. The
different stages in the production of quality planting materials
include selection of mother palm, seed nuts and seedlings and
adoption of proper nursery techniques.
Selection of mother palms:
Select mother palms showing earliness in bearing and high
percentage of fruit set. It is preferable to select palms with
shorter internodes, more number of leaves on the crown and
producing at least 4 bunches in a year.
Selection of seed nuts:
tree-ripen nuts from the middle portion of the middle bunch on
the tree. Heavier nuts give higher germination percentage and
produce vigorous seedlings. The nuts which float vertically with
the calyx end pointing upwards when allowed to float on water
are preferred. The selected bunches are lowered by means of rope
and shown without delay.
seed nuts soon after harvesting in nursery beds prepared under
shaded condition with the stalk end up and with a closer spacing
of 5-6 cm. Cover the seed nuts with sand and irrigate daily.
Germination starts in 45 days and continues up to 3 months. Good
quality seeds give 90-98% germination. Transplant 90 days old
sprout having 2-3 leaves into the secondary nursery. Prepare
secondary nursery beds with 150 cm width and of convenient
length. Apply Farmyard Manure (FYM) @ 5 tonnes/ha as basal dose.
Transplant sprouts at a spacing of 30 cm X 30 cm. Provide shade
by growing banana, ivy gourd or by raising artificial pandals.
Plants banana in advance at a spacing of 2.7m X3.6 m as shade
crop. Provide irrigation during hot and dry months. Periodical
weeding and mulching are necessary.
Selection of seedlings:
seedlings for planting in the main field when they are 12-18
months old. Seedlings with maximum number of leaves and maximum
height should be selected for planting. Alternatively, a
selection index can be worked out by multiplying leaf number by
40 and subtracting the seedlings height and select seedlings
with higher index values.
characters like girth at collar one year after transplanting and
number of nodes ¹ years transplanting are highly correlated with
yield. Plants with less than 20 cm girth one year after
transplanting and less than 4 nodes 2 years after transplanting
should be discarded.
with deep (not less than 2 m), well-drained soil, without high
water table and provision for irrigation. Arecanut palm is very
delicate and cannot withstand extremes of temperature and
exposure to direct sun. Plant tall, quick-growing shaded trees
on the southern and western sides of the plantation to provide
protection from the sun –scorching. Soil depth and water table
are important aspects to be considered while selecting site,
since it determines the development of root system.
Manure and Fertilizer
leaf or compost @ 12 kg/palm/year from the first year of
planting onwards, during September-October. Apply NPK
fertilizers for adult palm @ 100:40:140 g/palm/year for local
cultivars, whereas for Mangala and other high-yielding ones the
NPK dose should be increased to 150:60:210 g/palm/year.
one-third dose during first year, two-third during second year
and full from third year onwards. Under irrigated conditions,
fertilizers should be applied in 2 equal split doses during
September-October and February. Under rain-fed conditions, the
second is applied during March-April after receipt of summer
rains Manures and fertilizers are applied in basins around the
palm dug to a depth of 15-20 cm and 0.75-1.0 m radius from the
base of the palm, and covered with soil. The second dose is
applied around the base after weeding and forked in. In acid
soils, lime is applied @ 0.5 kg/palm/year once in ¹ year and
incorporated by forking during April-May.
is very sensitive to drought. The palm should be irrigated
during hot and dry weather at 4-7n days’ intervals @ 175 litres/palm
depending on the soil type. When there is shortage of water,
follow drip irrigation. Application of organic mulch around the
base of the palm helps to conserve soil moisture. Proper
drainage should be ensured by constructing drainage channels,
25-30 cm deep, for every ¹ rows of palms. They are to be cleared
at the beginning of monsoon every year.
garden free from weeds and break up surface crust by light
forking or digging after cessation of monsoon during
October-November. In slopes, prevent soil erosion by terracing.
Sow seeds of green manure-cum-cover crops such as
Mimosa invisa, Stylosanthes gracilis and Calapogonium muconoides
in April –
May. Cut and
apply them to the palms in September-October.
Arecanut as a
sole crop does not utilize fully the natural resources and
practically wasting 70% of the land area and 40% of the solar
radiation and is ideal for intercropping. Local preference for
choice of intercrops was observed-yam and tapioca in Kerala,
citrus in Assam, betel vine West Bengal, cardamom in malnad of
Karnataka and a general preference for banana in all tract. For
mixed cropping, cocoa, black pepper, cinnamon, coffee, clove
citrus and coconut are suitable. Cocoa is an ideal crop for
mixed cropping with arecanut and this can be planted in pits dug
2.7m apart in between alternate rows of arecanut, in the centre.
In all cases, intercrops should be manured adequately and
Disease and Pest Management
Areca palm is
prone to a number of diseases during its different stages of
development. Forty fungal species, a bacterium and an algae
parasite are associated with areca palm. Yellow leaf disease, a
dreaded disease suspected to be caused by phytoplasm, also
causes losses to its crop.
Phytophthora araceae is
one of the
major disease of arecanut. This occurs as an epidemic in the
heavy rainfall areas of Karnataka and Kerala. The disease first
makes its appearance after monsoon period. The first symptom is
the appearance of water-soaked lesions on the nut surface near
the calyx. The patches enlarge and nuts darken and they shed in
large number. The fallen nuts soon develop whitish mycelial mass
all over. Nuts of all ages are attacked and if unchecked, invade
crown causing the leaves and bunches to whither. Sometimes, the
infected nuts may not be shed and remain mummified in the
bunches. Such type of infection is known as ‘dry mahali’.
This can be
checked by spraying Bordeaux mixture (1%) twice a year, one just
before the onset of South-West monsoon and another 40 days
later. If monsoon is prolonged, give a third spray. Use Rosin
soda adhesive to ensure tenacity of the spray deposit on treated
subtrate. Remove and burn all fallen nuts since they act as a
source of inoculum.
Anabe or foot rot:
caused by fungus, Ganoderma lucidum.
It is more prevalent in neglected gardens, causing 7% losses.
Symptoms of the disease are akin to that of the draught. The
initial visible symptom is yellowing of outer whorl of leaves
which gradually extends to inner whorls followed by wilting and
drooping. The development of inflorescence and nuts are
arrested. Nuts already formed are shed. At later stages, the
weakened crown topples off leaving a bare trunk. All around the
base of the palm, brownish patches appear which exude a brown
liquid. The interior of the stem at the basal region is
discoloured and rotten, emitting a foul smell. The infection
extends to roots and gets discoloured, brittle and dry. The
fungal invasion interrupts uptake of water and nutrients by the
palm, leading to yellow and wilting.
infected stumps and roots act as the main foci of infection,
strict phyto-sanitary measures are to be adopted by removing and
destroying the stumps along with roots. Isolate affected palms
by digging trenches 60 cm deep and 30 cm wide around, away from
the base and drench with Captan (0.3%). Drench the soil with
Bordeaux mixture (1 %). Before planting. Discourage growing of
collateral hosts of the fungus like Delonix regia
Bud rot is a
fatal disease of areca palms caused by Phytophthora
characterized by rotting of terminal bud and surrounding tissues
and ultimately killing the palm. In early stages of infection,
scoop out affected rotten tissues by making longitudinal side
splits. Apply Bordeaux paste and drench the crown with Bordeaux
mixture (1 %).
shedding followed by die-back of inflorescence is a severe
problem in arecanut plantations. This is primarily caused by
and burning of inflorescence help reduce the load of inoculum in
the field. Spray Zineb (4 g/litre) twice, one just after female
flowers are set and again 15-28 days later. Aureofungin 50 P at
50 ppm concentration is also effective in controlling the
Bacterial leaf stripe:
is caused by Xanthomonas campestris pv. arecae.
are purely parenchymatous in nature causing water-soaked linear
lesions parallel to the midrib of the leaflets. The lesions are
covered with abundant creamy-white bacterial exudates on the
under surface which is a striking feature of the disease. The
entire leaflet in a frond may be affected resulting in complete
or partial blighting. In severe cases, entire crown may be
affected. When growing buds are affected, death of palm takes
place. The disease is aggressive during monsoon. Younger palms
(3-5 years old) are highly susceptible. Spraying or stem
injection with tetracycline group of antibiotics at 500 ppm
concentration is effective.
it is prevalent in isolated pockets in all arecanut-growing
States of South India. Younger and middle-aged palms are more
susceptible. Symptoms appear mostly on lower portions of the
stem as small discoloured depressions which later coalesce and
cracks develop with the progress of the disease, the fibrous
layer disintegrates which hallows up to varying depths and brown
gummy exudates oozes out. Crowns of affected palms get reduced
in size followed by reduction in yield. The disease is serious
in gardens with poor drainage. Improving the drainage may help
in minimizing its incidence. Scooping out the affected portions
and application of coaltar or Bordeaux paste is effective to
reduce the incidence.
Yellow leaf disease:
rampant in Kerala and Karnataka. Yellowing of leaves begin in
the inner whorl, gradually spreading to the outer parts of the
crown Chlorosis is finally observed on almost all leaves in the
whorl from the edges of the individual leaflets to the midrib
region. Withering of the tips starts and gradually spreads to
the older portions of the leaf. The freshly formed leaves grow
shorter and their laminac show unequal growth and flaccidity. In
a few cases, wilting and shedding of leaves are also observed.
The nuts are reduced in size, shriveled with their kernels often
turning black and there is severe reduction in yield. Stem of
the affected palms becomes spongy and friable, the conducting
strands getting destroyed. In advanced stages, the stem breaks
off at the top. Rotting of the roots is also observed.
Association of mycoplasma-like organisms (Phytoplasma) with the
disease has been confirmed. Water logging is a predisposing
factor in the incidence of the disease. Lack of balance
nutrition and unscientific cultivation practices make the palm
susceptible to the disease. Since the disease is not amenable to
management by conventional plant protection measures, other
means of containing the disease should be looked into. They are:
Physical condition of the soil should be improved by deep
digging and adding sand/organic matter. In heavy sticky soils,
gypsum @ 500 kg / ha may not be incorporated, once in two
years prior to normal fertilizer application.
Adequate drainage should be provided, especially during
Phyto-sanitary and plan-protection measures should be adopted
to control Anabe, bud rot, spindle bud and mite infestation.
Sun-scorching of the stem should be avoided by covering with
arecanut leaves or painting with lime slurry.
Application of NPK fertilizers as per schedule along with lime
and zinc @ 8.5 g each per palm.
is more a physiological disorder than a pathological problem of
universal occurrence. It is seen in well-grown, young and
healthy palms. The growth of the pericarp does not keep pace
with the development of kernel inside, causing splitting up of
the pericarp. The split nuts drop and infection of the exposed
kernel, renders them useless.
is due to excess flow of cell sap into the inflorescence in the
very healthy palms. Hence, checking of excess flow either by
making some deep wound at the base of the spadix or jamming the
cells at the base when the nuts are half grown prevents
splitting. Sudden flush of water after a period of drought also
results in nut splitting. Potassium deficiency is also a
probable cause of this malady. Application of potassium borax (2
g/litre of water) during early stages of the disease reduces
Sun-scorching or stem-breaking:
is another disorder, resulting from prolonged exposure of palms
to severe solar radiation. The palms exposed to south west sun
are more prone to stem-breaking. Symptoms appear as
golden-yellow splits on the exposed side of the stem which turn
dark brown and subsequently form longitudinal fissures. Further
colonization by saprophytic fungi weakens the stem and finally
break. Raising of fast growing trees in the south-west side of
the garden protecting stem with dry areca leaves, trailing
pepper vines on the stem, and adopting a suitable alignment for
planting are recommended measures to minimize the disease.
palm is attacked by over 90 insects and non insect pests which
damage the foliage, roots stems inflorescence and nuts. Except
spindle bug, mites, root grub, inflorescence caterpillar and
pentatamid bug, the damage caused by other pests is not
Spindle bug (Carvalhoia arecae):
This is a
serious pest multiplying rapidly with close of monsoon. The red
and black adults and greenish nymphs colonize the top-most leaf
axil at the base of the spindle. The bug sucks sap from the
tender spindles resulting in reduction in size of the spindle.
The infested portions on the lamina develop necrotic patches
which later form shot holes. Severe leaf damage causes stunting
of palms. Filling the inner-most leaf axils around the spindle
with Phorate 10 % granules (10 g/ palm) at 3 months intervals is
effective. Conveniently this can be placed in sachets of ¹ g (¹
Mites (Raoiella indica, Oligonychus indicus):
Mites are commonly found in arecanut gardens but only
occasionally under prolonged dry weather conditions, it poses
serious problems. The mites are of ¹ types-red and white. They
attack both seedlings and adult palms. They infest the lower
surface of leaf and suck sap and leaves turn yellowish-brown and
dry up. The tender fruits are also attacked, causing
malformation and shedding. Removal of heavily infested and dried
leaves and burning help in eradicating the source of infection.
Spraying under surfaces of leaves and crown with Dicofol (2 ml/litre)
or Rogor (1.5 ml/litre) is effective.
Root grub (Leucopholis lepidophora):
attack and feed on roots of both young and old palms. Due to
root feeding, the leaves turn pale-yellow and yield is reduced.
Keeping the garden clean, well-drained and free of weeds reduces
its attack. Loosen the soil around the base of the palm to a
depth of 10-15 cm and drench with chlorpyriphos (0.04%)
suspension twice, in May and September. Repeat the application
for 2 or 3 years for complete eradication of the pest. Soil
application of Phorate 10 g around the palms is also effective.
Pentatomid bug (Hapylomorpha marmoreal):
The adult and
the young bugs suck sap from the endosperm of tender nuts,
causing premature shedding. The dropped nuts have one or more
pin prick-like marks on the surface. The adults are bronze
coloured with brown spots and in young stages they are black
with white spot on the leg. When tender nuts are not available,
the insect migrates to other hosts like cowpea and bitter
ground. Therefore these crops should be closely watched and the
bug when noticed should be mechanically removed and destroyed.
One round of spray with Endosulfan (0.05%) on the bunches is
Nematodes: Burrowing nematodes (Radopholus
is the only endoparasite encountered in more than 50% of the
areca root samples collected out of the 28 genera of plants
parasitic nematodes reported in arecanut. Infested palms show
general yellowing, reducing growth, vigour and yield. Appearance
of orange-coloured lesions, blackening of tips of lateral and
tertiary roots and rotting of roots are conspicuous symptoms.
Integrated methods to control nematode disease are: use of
resistant/tolerant varieties like Sumangala
susceptible hosts like pepper and banana use nematode-free
planting material; apply 5-10 kg of green leaves/palm,
preferably of Glricidia or Crotolaria;
cake (1 kg/palm/year); and apply Phorate (3 g/plant).
coleopteran predators, chiefly coccinellids of arecanut mites,
ar used. They are Aspects indicus, Cyleophalus semipictus,
Stethrus keralicus and Stethorus parcepunctatus.
Band or Hidimundige:
Band is a
physiological disorder of the palm due to adverse environment of
the particular spot where the palm is standing. The first
visible symptoms are the reduction in leaf size which turns
brittle and crinkled with wavy margins. As the disease advances,
there is reduction in inter-nodal length, formation of small
bunches and tapering of stem. The crown shows a rosette shape
due to failure of natural opening of leaves. The bunches become
small and malformed. Roots are poorly developed, crinkled and
brittle. Poor drainage, low soil fertility or environmental
factors are possible causes of this malady. It has been reported
from Maharashtra and Karnataka. Since biotic agents are not
involved in its occurrence, spraying of plant-protection
chemicals is of no value. Good soil management, Improvement of
drainage and incorporation of copper sulphate and lime to soil
could check it effectively.
starts flowering from 3-4 years after planting. December-March
is the main flowering season and harvesting period from June to
July to get tender nuts and November-March for ripe nuts. The
nuts are harvested at 45-50 days’ interval in 3 pickings. The
nuts are processed both at tender as well as ripe stages.
Harvesting is done either by climbing the palm or by using a
long bamboo with a sharp sickle or hook attached to the end.