This article discusses tips on how to grow rhubarb on farms.
Rhubarb is a temperate vegetable crop mostly grown for its thick leaf stalks or petioles. In scientific terms, it is called Rheum rhaponticum and belongs to the family Polygonaceae.
Rhubarb is mainly used in the preparation of sauces, salads, pies, etc.
How to Grow Rhubarb?
Before we go into details of cultivation, it is important to select the right variety.
The Verities of rhubarb are
It grows well in the regions where crowns remain frozen during winters and soil will remains dry during the summer season. Rhubarb is moderately tolerant to cold and dry conditions. But at a temperature, less than 3 ̊ C vegetative parts of the plants will die. It requires a temperature of 10 ̊ C to break dormancy. At low-temperature conditions, stalks will develop pink color, while at high temperatures, the green color will develop.
Soil conditions for rhubarb cultivation
Sandy loam to loamy soils is the most suitable rhubarb cultivation. It does well under the soils with rich organic matter and good drainage. Cultivation of rhubarb in light soils produces early yields. Optimum PH for rhubarb cultivation is 6 to 6.8.
For cultivation of rhubarb, plow the land 2-4 times thoroughly to get a fine tilth. Prepare trenches of 15 cm deep.
Method of Propagation
It is propagated by division of crowns during late fall or early spring. Cultivation of rhubarb during the winter season is called as forcing of rhubarb. Rhubarb is a perennial vegetable crop, so crowns must be divided and reset every four years to maintain crop in good condition. Seed propagation is practiced to develop new varieties. Planting of crowns was done when there is no fear of heavy frost or freezing temperatures.
General row to row spacing is 120-180 cm and plant to plant spacing is 60-120 cm. Mostly 120 cm × 120 cm is followed for better yield and management.
Place the crowns 5 cm below the soil in 15 cm deep trenches and cover the crowns with soil.
Fertilizer requirement for cultivation of rhubarb
Add well rotten farmyard manure of 3-4 tonnes to the soil before plowing the field. Apply N, P, K each at 100-150 kilograms per hectare. Growing and incorporating green manure crops before growing rhubarb is beneficial. Apply nitrogen in 2-3 split doses; avoid placing nitrogen in close with plants because it may cause the burning of feeder roots.
With minimum irrigation facilities, we can achieve good yields in rhubarb cultivation. However, providing irrigation will increase the yield. Do not starve rhubarb without irrigating before harvesting the crop; it would certainly decrease the yield. Stop irrigation after harvesting the crop until the injuries of the plant have healed.
Practice frequent shallow cultivations before sprouting of crowns to reduce weed problems. Spray herbicides like glyphosate at 2-3 kg per hectare. Using various kinds of mulches also reduces the weed problem in rhubarb cultivation.
Straw can be used as mulch in rhubarb during winter which reduces weed growth and also helps in clean harvesting.
Planting of crowns should be done in fields that are free from perennial weeds.
Remove flower stalks as fast as they appear.
Avoid deep cultivation which may damage the crown instead, practice shallow cultivation.
During the fall time, apply farmyard manure to the soil.
Besides, dressing of Nitrogen one or two is essential.
Do not harvest any yield in the first year
In the further years cultivate the soil to keep the weeds in control, but care should be taken to avoid deep or close cultivation near the crown.
Pest and diseases control
Leaf spots: the presence of angular leaf spots.
Remove the stem whichever finds with spotted leaves.
Poor air circulation and high humid conditions can cause rotting of crown, stem, and leaves.
Spray fungicides like Copper oxychloride 0.3 percent at seven days intervals after disease appearance.
Maintain proper sanitation in the field.
Root and crown rots:
Affected parts exhibit brown, black decay when they cut.
Avoid poorly drained soils.
Collection and destruction of affected plant parts.
Use healthy planting material.
Potato stem bores:
Bore into the stem later enter into the center of the stalk make crop unfit for usage.
Burning of affected fields will reduce the pest population.
Avoid weeds in the fields.
They feed on stems during nights by leaving unsightly scars on the stems.
Control the weeds properly.
Remove the trash from the field and keep the field clean.
Black bean aphid:
Cause curling and wilting of the leaves.
Sprays of methyl oxy- demeton 0.025 % or Malathion 0.05 % controls this pest.
Depending upon the location rhubarb comes to harvest during the last week of May to early June which will continue up to 8 weeks. Harvesting is done by hand. Stalks are pulled out rather than cutting (to avoid spreading of the virus). Harvesting during the first year is possible. However, in the long run, it decreases the productivity of the crop. Rhubarb produces yields up to 5 – 10 years once they were planted.
Yield of crop
Yield will vary depending upon the age and vigor of the crop. On average it ranges from 150 to 400 kilograms per hectare.
Storage for the yield
It remains fresh up to 4weeks after harvesting at 1 -2 ̊ c and 92 % R. H. Hot water treatment at 52°C for 2 minutes doubles the shelf life.
Uses of Rhubarb
- Rhubarb is used in the preparation of Chinese medicine.
- It prevents constipation, gastrointestinal bleeding, and stomach pain.
- It is also used in treating the sores.
- Rhubarb is a good source of various Vitamins, nutrients, and proteins, etc.