Almost every one of us must have eaten cashews at least once and must have had a thought “How do Cashews grow.”
Cashews are sweet and buttery in taste. One of the most favorite nuts, especially for us Indians, is Cashews—many wide-use cashews for weight gain, sweets, and so on. The word “cashew” originates from the Tupi-Indian word “acaju,” which refers to a kind of nut. Compared to other nuts, cashews form a small tail at the base of cashew apples.
These cashews look like a kidney or boxing glove, making them distinctive among nuts; fascinating, right? They are also offered without the shell, which is likely because the shell might cause skin irritation on us. The irritants are not found directly in the nuts but in the oil extracted from the nuts shells.
A phenolic resin high in anacardic acid, which is sticky and allergenic, may be found within the seed, protected from the outside environment by a double shell because this compound is chemically similar to the urushiol oil that may be found in poison ivy (an allergenic plant that causes redness, itching, swelling, blisters when in contact with the skin) which happens to be in the same family of the cashew plant. Just like poison ivy, it can cause significant skin irritation.
In this article, we’ll look into what cashews are, cashew apples, the history behind them, and finally, “How do Cashews grow” predominantly in India. Last but not least, we’ll look into the long-traditional feni-making using cashew seed by a family in India.
1. Cashews, The Days of Yore
Where did these cashews originate? It might be a bit flabbergasted knowing that the Europeans in northeastern Brazil were the first ones to discover cashew nuts in 1588 AD. Around this time, people hesitated to eat this as the cashews had irritating shells.
After further knowledge, people started to know more about cashews thanks to our Indian ancestors that the nuts themselves aren’t irritant. More interestingly, they taught about how to roast them to let go of the irritant.
Let me tell you one more interesting fact. The Indians discovered the cashew nuts‘ healing properties, and because of this, it was prevalent in the land. The 16th century saw the global dissemination of these nuts from Africa and Southern Asia.
2. Cashew Apple
Do many of us know about these cashew apples? Most of us don’t. Let me tell you that the cashew nuts we eat are actually from these cashew apples, and the nuts are found hanging from the cashew apple like a tail that looks like a kidney or a boxing glove.
The image given below gives a clear description of cashew apples with nuts. Cashew apples are juicy and tangy. Cashew apples appear to be in a pear shape. They range from small to big, averaging 5 to 11 centimeters in length. Since they are only berries, cashew apples are classified into a category called “accessory fruit.“
The cashew apple has a receptacle skin that is waxy, tight, smooth, and thin. This allows the exquisite golden yellow and red to varied combinations of red and yellow colors to be seen as the fruits develop. Some may even have a slight yellow color.
Now, beyond the surface, you’ll find the lovely yellow meat with a thick and chewy consistency. They give out a unique scent that combines fruity, spicy, and tangy. The flavor of the cashew apple’s flesh is described as having notes of sweetness, tropical fruits, vegetables, and astringency.
- Vitamin-rich: Cashew apples have three times more vitamin C than oranges. Protects cells from free radicals and boosts immunity.
- The cashew apple provides potassium, magnesium, and calcium as well as energy. These minerals support a healthy heart, immune system, and muscles.
- The dietary fiber in cashew apples aids in digestion and encourages regular bowel movements.
- Carotenoids and polyphenols in cashew apples may protect cells from free radicals.
- Cashew apples, which are high fiber, may aid weight loss because they leave you feeling full on low calories.
Cashew apple has been studied less than other fruits and vegetables, yet they may provide health benefits. Nevertheless, the cashew apple is less common than the nut and may be hard to get outside tropical regions where it is produced.
3. Cashew Nuts
The cashew seed, often known as the cashew nut, is a popular food that may be eaten raw, cooked, or made into cashew cheese or cashew butter. As stated earlier, Cashew nuts look like a kidney or a boxing glove below the cashew apple.
Although the seed and its protective covering are nuts and fruits, the shell is poisonous and hence unsuitable for human consumption. This is why all cashews sold at your grocery store are already shelled.
Because it shares a chemical structure with urushiol oil, which is found in poison ivy, the seed of the cashew is double-shelled to keep the potentially allergenic phenolic resin contained within. Like poison ivy, it can seriously irritate the skin.
4. Types of Cashews
Have you ever noticed that all our cashews aren’t the same? Some have different characteristic colors and sizes. Size and hue variations are also common. So, now let’s investigate the many cashew varieties. The CEPCI (Cashew Export Promotion Council of India), which the government of India established in 1955, has classified cashews based on color and size into the following types, they are:
- Cashew Kernels – White Wholes
- Cashew Kernels – Scorched White
- Cashew Kernels – Dessert Wholes
- Cashew Kernels- White Pieces
- Cashew Kernels – Scorched Pieces
- Cashew Kernels- Desert Pieces
5. Growing Cashews On a Nationwide Scale
We grow cashews commercially in the states of Andhra Pradesh, Goa, Karnataka, Kerala, Maharashtra, Orissa, Tamil Nadu, and West Bengal. Several non-traditional areas, such as Chhattisgarh, the Andaman and Nicobar Islands, and the North Eastern States of Assam, Manipur, Tripura, Meghalaya, and Nagaland, have also begun to dabble in cashew production.
Due to the crop’s increased agro-climatic tolerance, there is considerable room for further cultivation in formerly unproductive regions. Research compiled by the National Academy of Agricultural Sciences and the Indian Council of Agricultural Research estimates that there are around 100 million acres of degraded or wasteland in India.
This comprises mined and rocky terrains, eroded areas, regions that have been chemically or physically deteriorated, and so on. Due to cashews’ resilience, even degraded grounds may be used for expanding the crop’s area, even though the yield is lower than that of arable fields.
6. Technical Requirements For Cashew Cultivation
What are the technical requirements for cashew cultivation? Let us know about the technical requirements required for cashew cultivation if you will cultivate or start cashew farming.
The idea is that “cashew is quite modest in its soil needs and can adapt itself to different soil conditions without hurting yield.” Cashews may grow on low soils, although it performs better on excellent soils.
Cashew trees grow well in loose, deep sandy loams that don’t have a hard pan. Cashew grows in clean sandy soils; however, mineral deficits are more probable. Cashew hates stagnation and floods.
Cashew farming is unsuitable for heavy clay soils with poor drainage and pH over 8.0. Alkaline and saline soils inhibit its development. The ideal soils for cashew growth include lateritic soils, mildly acidic coastal sands, and red sandy loam.
Tropical cashews can live in very hot or very cold places. Frost damages young plants. Cashews need temperatures of at least 20 degrees Celsius during their growth cycle, limiting their height range to no more than 7metersres above mean sea level.
Cashews grow best in places that are 20–30°C and get 1,000–2,000 mm of rain a year. Temperatures higher than 36°C between blooming and fruiting may affect how well the fruit sets and stays on the plant.
Even if trees grow well and produce fruit, rain all year is not good. Cashews grow best in places where it’s dry for four months out of the year. High relative humidity and heavy rain during blooming can make flowers and fruit fall off and cause fungal infections.
6.3 Planting Material
Now, let us look at the planting material. Cashews that have been cross-pollinated provide a variety of novel fruits and nuts. This issue is resolved via vegetative propagation seedlings.
Even though air layering works, it has the unintended effect of making plants weaker and more likely to die from drought. Most plantations that are grown from grafts or seedlings are hardier. Weak anchoring when there are cyclones.
Epicotyl and softwood grafting work well because they make many grafts quickly. These grafts pretty much set the fields. Using these established procedures, ICAR (the Directorate of Cashew Research and its sub-stations, Agricultural Institutions, and State Dept of Horticulture or Agriculture) has produced enough planting material to fulfill expanding demand.
Cashews make money for almost every state. Every year, plant life is grown in nurseries. These nurseries give farmers real, guaranteed plants. It is essential to ask for details such as plant age, cashew variety, rootstock, etc., on the supplier’s bill or cash receipt.
Plow and level agricultural ground. Forestlands should be cleared and burned early. Terrace or bund muddy land after removal. Soil trenches across contours save moisture. Soil type and manner determine land preparation costs.
The concept employs a vision to improve soil working using JCBs, which are prevalent nowadays. Before the monsoon season (May–June), land preparation should be finished.
The recommended spacing for cashew trees is 7 meters per square. spacing recommendations range from 7metersres X 7.5 meters to 8 meters X 8 meters. Cashews should be planted densely at a rate of 625 per square meter in the first year, then thinned out to a spacing of 8 by meters by the tenth. This boosts early returns.
The triangle planting strategy allows 15% more plants on sloppy terrain without compromising tree growth. Planting along contours with staggered cradle pits or trenches to prevent soil erosion and conserve moisture is best in undulating terrain.
Do some little digging to remove weeds before the rainy season. Hoeing is preferable to slashing for getting rid of weeds since it kills them at their roots. Nowadays, chemical weed control is crucial. That could be feasible in locations with high wages or a scarcity of workers.
Initially, we spray Agrodar-96 (2, 4-D) at 4ml/liter and Gramaxone at 5ml/liter. Each application requires 400 liters per hectare (or 160 gallons per acre). This process of spraying is repeated when the monsoon ends.
Tall intercrops like sorghum and millet shadow young cashew too much. Groundnuts and beans are ideal intercrops. Besides annual crops, dry zone fruit crops with less canopy, such as Annona, phalsa, etc., may be suitable. Intercropping cashew with horse gram, cowpea, groundnut, etc.
The leguminous cover provides organic matter and plant nutrients, prevents soil erosion, and conserves moisture. The beginning of training season is a good time to plant these cover crops.
Loosening dirt and combining compost creates 30cm x 30cm seed beds in slopes. The beds are seeded and covered with dirt. Soak seeds for six hours before planting.
These are some of the technical details I have mentioned, for more details please check out the Indian standards code book from BIS f cashew kernels, Grading and Marking Rules for cashew cultivation, , etc.
7. How to Grow Cashews? Or A Cashew Tree
First of all, before starting the cashew planting make sure you have the specified requirement of soil, climate, and so as I have mentioned because without this you cannot start with the plantation of cashews.
Now, let us look into the other details once the appropriate soil, water, layout, etc.
7.1 Planting the Cashew Seeds
Regardless of the kind of soil you choose, you should make sure that it provides enough drainage and watering. Waterlogging may cause irreparable damage to the tree.
You may get cashew seeds designed for growth at places selling gardening supplies. Since their protective shell has been removed during the processing of cashews for human use, even raw cashews cannot be considered viable.
While working with the seeds, it is essential always to use gloves so that you do not contact them directly.
7.2 Planting Your Seeds
Put your seeds to a depth of 10 centimeters (3.9 inches) to allow the roots to grow as they spread out. It is recommended that at least 9.1 meters of space be allocated for each tree if you’re intending to plant more thence of space between each of them so that they have the opportunity to expand.
The greatest results will come from using seed that is as fresh as it is feasible to acquire, so start planting as soon as possible.
Choose a location that has an average amount of rainfall. Cashews cannot survive in regions with high levels of precipitation or wind, although they do well in very hot temperatures of up to 50 degrees Celsius (122 degrees Fahrenheit).
Due to this, tropical places that get a moderate amount of rainfall and have high temperatures are excellent. If there is excessive precipitation, the tree will perish because its roots will suffocate.
Ensuring your tree receives at least six hours of sunshine daily is essential. Cashew trees perform best in warm, sunny regions. If a cashew tree is not given enough sunshine, its growth will be stunted, and it may never even produce flowers.
7.4 Stunning Cashews in the Making
At first, the tree just needs to be hydrated once a week. This increases the likelihood of the root system’s success. At full age, the tree needs watering once a week throughout the summer, but not during the winter since doing so might kill it.
7.5 Providing Stakes
A stake will be used to support the tree. It is especially crucial to do this while the tree is still young and if you reside in an area prone to high winds. If you don’t do this, there’s a chance that the tree may be uprooted and perish from the wind. When you have the appropriate equipment and materials, staking up your tree is a simple process.
The tree might be uprooted and killed by the wind if this isn’t done. A tree may be staked up quickly and easily with the right tools and supplies.
It’s important to regularly prune back new shoots emerging from the rootstock during the first year after planting. The sprouts consume the nutrients needed by the grafted scion, and the scion dies. Pruning and training cashew trees early on, during the first three to four years, is crucial for achieving the desired results later.
During the first three to four years, we prune the trees by cutting off the lower branches and any water shoots growing from the trunk. No more trimming will be required after that. Allowing a single stem to grow up to 1 m from the ground is ideal for this plant.
The weakest and most twisted branches are removed as well. If you don’t want your plant lodged by the wind, you must take it properly. Following the first four to five years, the main stem is cut to a height of four to five meters above the ground.
Afterward, once every two to three years, you should prune the plant by removing dead or dying wood, crossing branches, or water sprouts.
Cashew trees are pruned and trained between August and September. Bordeaux paste is used to cover the exposed cuts.
Plants should be de-blossomed (their blooms cut off) in the first and second years after planting and allowed to produce fruit in the third year.
Cashew nuts form at the fruit’s base once it has grown to a great size. Cashew apples look like apples but are the enlarged tip of the stem that emerges from the cashew nut. The visual impact, with an apple next to a lone nut, is weird. Knowing how to securely harvest cashews is the biggest issue.
To handle them safely, let us look into the list of things you might require
Put the fallen fruit in containers while using safe clothes and equipment. To dry the nuts, you must first remove them from the apples by twisting them apart, and then leave them out in the sun for four or five days.
7.8 Roasting the Cashews
The nuts are roasted to make sure the toxin-sticky liquid goes off. The husk is removed. After this, the cashews are graded according to color and size and sold off to the market.
Drupathi Gaonkar, the matriarch of the Gaonkar family, runs the show. Drupathi took over the company when her husband went away. However, her family has been in the feni industry for nearly 10 decades. The period between then and now is 60 years.
Making the best feni is a laborious and time-consuming procedure for the Gaonkar family.
Every day they get up and look for ripe fruits that have fallen from the cashew trees that populate their property. In an hour, they can collect enough cashew fruits to fill around eight buckets, and then separate the fruit from the nut.
Here comes the most exciting and original element of manufacturing feni. Santosh Gaonkar straps on a pair of mining boots and sets out on a stomping adventure to get cashew fruit juice.
The juice is squeezed out to the last drop, thanks to the strong soles of the boots. Challenges abound because of the slick stomping surface and the oppressive summer heat.
After over an hour of stomping, the fruit is heaped high, wrapped in cloth, and secured with knots. The pile is then subjected to one more cycle of squeezing with large rocks maintained on it.
After being strained, the juice is allowed to ferment for about three days. The fluid is transferred to a copper drum after fermentation is complete. Cloth is saturated with high-quality mud is used as a seal on the copper container. The distillation process takes eight hours and begins when the drum is heated.
When the ideal distillation temperature is reached, the resulting feni contains between 43 and 45 percent alcohol.
9. Cashews Vs Peanuts
Let’s compare cashews to peanuts and see what we find. While they come from the nut family, cashews and peanuts have distinct nutritional profiles, flavor profiles, and culinary applications.
Peanuts are high in protein, fiber, and vitamin E, while cashews are rich in copper, magnesium, and phosphorus.
In terms of flavor, cashews have a buttery, almost sweet quality whereas peanuts are nutty and somewhat salty. The other ones are often used in snacks, peanut butter, and Asian cuisine, whereas cashews are typically utilized in sweets, sauces, and Indian cuisine.
Those with peanut allergies should avoid all peanut products since they are a more prevalent allergen than cashews.
Whether you choose cashews or peanuts as part of a healthy, balanced diet is a matter of taste and culinary preference.
Even if trees grow well and produce fruit, rain all year is not good. Cashews grow best in places where it’s dry for four months of the year. High relative humidity and heavy rain during blooming can make flowers and fruit fall off and cause fungal infections.
With any hope, you’ve picked up a few valuable insights from this article. Make sure to use organic manure than urea. Organic one is much better than the other fertilizers.
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