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Senna cultivation

Senna plantation

What is Senna?

Senna is commonly known as Sonamukhi, swarna patri, nilavakari, Indian senna, tinevelly senna. The botanical name of senna is Cassia augustifolia and belongs to family Leguminoseae. The plant parts of senna which are useful are pods and leaves

They contain sennosides A, B, C, D which are well known for the preparation of laxatives and purgatives all over the world

The country which leads the production of senna in the world is India. Of the total senna prodhction, almost 99 percent is exported. Major exports of senna from India go to UK

What are characteristics of  the plant of Senna?

It is a shrub which attains height of less rhan 70 cms and grwos erect. The flowers are brillinantly yellow in colour and borne in recemose inflorescence. The pods are flat thin and contain 5-7 dark brown seeds. Although all parts contain sennosides, the leaves and pods contain maximum content. It ranges from 1-5 to 3% in Indian senna. The Alexandrian senna (C. acutifolia) which grows wild in Africa and Sudan contains 4 – 4.5%

What is the climatic and soil requirement of Senna cultivation?

Climate

Senna requires warm and dry climate. It requires bright sunlight and occassional rains during growing period. It is highly sensitive to water logging conditions. Rainfall requirement is only 25 to 40 cms

Soil

Sandy loam are ideal. It can be grown on any type of soil provided that it has to have good drainage. It is highly tolerent to soil salinity. The pH of soil suited is 7 to 8.5

How is the land preparation done for senna plantation?

Land should be ploughed at exposed to sun for 2 to 3 weeks. There should be draingae channels in regions where there is probability of heavy rainfall since senna is highly sensitive to water logging

How is senna propagated?

Senna is propagated by seeds

What is the method of sowing and seed rate in senna cultivation?

In North India, it is sown in february to March and june to july. In south India it is sown in september to October. Broadcasting is normally followed  Seed rate for broadcasting ranges from 15 to 20 kgs per Ha. Seeds are soaked in water for 10 to 12 hours before sowing to enhance germination. Sometimes, line sowing is done at 45 x 30 cms spacing and at a depth of 1 to 2 cms. Seed rate for line sowing ranges from 5 to 6 kgs per Ha

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What are interculture operations?

Weeding is done at regular intervals. Thinning is done at 30 days after sowing

How to schedule irrigation and fertilizer in senna cultivation?

Fertilizer management

80:40:0 NPK kg per Ha is recommended for senna with 50 percent N at sowing and remaining in equal quantities at 35 to 40 days after sowing and 80 to i5 days after sowing. Urea should be used as a preferred nitrogenous fertilizer

Irrigation Management

Generally, senna grows well in rainfed conditions. If irrigation is avialable, it is given at sowing, 40 days after sowing, 75 days after sowing and 105 days after sowing

What are the popular varieties of senna?

ALFT 2, KKM Se 1 and Sona are popular varieties

How is harvesting done in senna farming?

Young senna leaves and pods contain a high sennoside content but since the produce is sold on the basis of weight, a balance between weight and content is to be made to choose its stage for harvest. First picking starts at 50 to 70 days age depending upon total plant growth

A second picking be taken at 90 to 100 days and the third picking between 130 to 150 days when the entire plants are removed so that the harvested material includes both leaves and pods together. The harvested crop should be spread in a thin layer in open area to reduce the moisture. Further drying of the produce is done in a well ventilated drying sheds. It takes 3 to 5 days to dry the produce in the sheds. The dried produce usually possesses 8 per cent moisture. The properly dried leaves and pods should have light-green to greenish yellow colour. Improper and delayed drying changes the colour to black to brown which lowers the sennoside content and thus the price

How much yield is expected form senna plantation?

A good average crop of senna can give 1500 kg per ha of dry leaves and 700 kg per ha of pods under irrigated and good management conditions. The yield under rain fed conditions is about 1000 kg of leaves and 400 kg of pods

Further readings and references

Handbook of Horticulture