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Senna | Cassia Angustifolia | Cultivation

Soil & climate | Land Preparation | Nursery Raising & Planting
Weeding and Manuring | Irrigation| Harvesting & Post Harvesting

Soil and Climate

The crop can thrive on a variety of soils, but is largely grown on red loams, on alluvial loams. The texture of the soil which account for the major hectarage under Senna crop varies from sandy loam to loam, while the black cotton soils are heavier and more fertile. The average pH ranges from 7 to 8.5. It is very sensitive to water logging. Hence, grown only on well-drained soils.

Senna is a warmth-loving crop and required bright sunshine for its successful growth. It can be grown in early summer (February–March) or in winter (October–November) crop. Whereas under North Indian conditions like Delhi and Gujarat, where the rainy season is short, it is reported to be the ideal time as the plants put on luxuriant growth and give the maximum growth. Heavy rains and cloudy weather during growth are harmful to the crop. An average rainfall of 25-40 cm. distributed from June to October is sufficient to produce good crop.
Land Preparation

The land is ploughed deep and the soil is exposed to sun for 110-115 days to dry out roots of perennial weeds followed by two cross ploughing harrowing and levelling. Farm-yard-manure (FYM) is incorporated into the soil at the time of final cross ploughing. Then the land is laid out into plots of convenient size with irrigation channels.
Nursery Raising and Planting

Seeds raise the crop. The seeds have hard and tough seed coat. Soaking seeds for 10-12 hours before sowing was reported not only to give 100 percent germination. About 20 kg of seeds are required to cover a hectare of land.
The seeds are broadcasted or preferably sown at 30 cm lines to 30 cm apart and 1.5 to 2.5 cm depth in a well-prepared land. Germination commences on third days and completed within a fortnight. Before sowing the seeds, the field should be perfectly levelled otherwise it hampers the uniform seed germination. It is found that the seed treatment with Thiram, Captain or Agroson G.N. at 2.5 g/kg protect the seedlings from damping off and seedling blight diseases which are very common.

Weeding and Manuring

 The first weeding cum hoeing is done at 25-30 days of sowing and second at 75-80 days and third at 110 days to keep the crop free from weeks. Use of Teeflan herbicide as pre-emergent spray at the rate of 4 kg/hectare has been reported to increase the yield and Anthraquinone content.
4-5 cart loads (5-10 tones) of well rotten FYM per hectare is required. In general, where specific soil nutrient status of the field is not readily found, 80 kg each of P2O5and K2O may be applied per hectare for the higher production of leaf, pod and total alkaloids. of these, entire dose of Phosphorus and Potassium and 50 per cent of Nitrogen has to be applied at 90 days after sowing.

 Senna could be economically grown under rainfed conditions. In most years, the crop needs no irrigations except under the conditions of prolonged drought. However, when it is grown as a semi-irrigated crop, the yield increased considerably. About 5-8 light irrigations are enough to raise a good crop of Senna, however, heavy irrigations are injurious to the crop.
Harvesting & Post Harvesting

Senna plant produces foliage containing higher sennosides between 5-90 days age, depending upon the total plant growth. The picking of leaves is done by hand so that most of the growing tops are removed at harvest. This also induces the plants to produce more of branching which otherwise reduce foliage growth considerably. A second picking is taken at 90-100 days and the third picking between 130-150 days when the entire plants are removed so that the harvested material includes both leaves and pods together.

The harvested crop should be spread over open field area in a thin layer to reduce its moisture. Further drying of produce is done in well-ventilated drying sheds. It takes 10-12 days to dry completely in well-ventilated drying sheds. The dried leaves and pods should have light green to greenish yellow color. A rapid mechanical drying at 400 C could also be attempted. The produce is baled under hydraulic pressure and wrapped in gunny bags, for export or domestic consumption