Water chestnut is a famous vegetable in Asian countries. It is also eaten fresh as a fruit. Nowadays water chestnut plant is commercially cultivated in several countries. People also cultivating it in their kitchen garden. It mainly grows in a pond or in a marshland in the mud.
Water Chestnut Plant Informations:
Though its name is chestnut, it is not a nut at all. It is an aquatic vegetable.
Family – Cyperaceae.
Plant Type – It is a grass-like sedge, annual plant.
Other Names – Matai, Waternut, Water fruit, Water caltrop, Buffalo nut, and devil Pod.
Countries where it is cultivated – It is cultivated in China, India, Bangladesh, Pakistan, Srilanka, Indonesia, Philippine, Australia, and Africa.
Climate and Soil for Water Chestnut Plant:
The tropical and subtropical climate is the most suitable climate for water chestnut cultivation.
Water chestnut needs a long warm growing season with at least 220 frost-free days for growing. 14-15.5°C soil temperature is needed for the germination of corms.
Sandy loam soil is ideal for water chestnut cultivation. The suitable pH level for water chestnut is between 6.5 and 7.2. You can also cultivate it in a slightly acidic or more acidic land after applying limestone.
Water chestnut grows at altitudes from sea level up to 1200 m.
Water chestnut cultivation is really an easy process. It needs only a few materials, such as
- A pond or a marshland.
- Aarge plastic tub or bin.
- Water chestnut corms or seedlings.
You can buy water chestnut seedlings from nearby nurseries. Or, you can also produce it at home from corms. Water chestnut corms sprout when the soil temperature is above 13°C. Plant the corms 10cm deep in the soil. The distance from one corm to another should be 75cm. You can plant 17800 corms per hector. Periodically flood this land and again drain out the water.
Without this, you can also produce seedlings in a tub or in a pond. For this, you need a large size plastic tub or bin. Fill this tub with some mud and water. Then sow some mature disease-free chestnuts in the tub. Or, simply leave some water chestnuts in the muddy area of the pond or in the marshy land after harvesting. After a few months’ saplings will grow from these chestnuts.
Land preparation is an important step for water chestnut cultivation. At first, check the pH level of the soil. If the pH level is between 6.5 to 7.2 then it is ok for water chestnut cultivation. But if the land is more acidic then apply limestone. Apply Nitrogen, potassium and phosphorus fertilizers. The N:P: K ratio should be 1:0.50:1.75. You can also use organic mulch. Mushroom compost is really good for water chestnut.
Water chestnut takes 6 to 7 months to mature. And it is harvested in the fall. So, you should transplant them in early spring. Transplant 2 seedlings for per square foot. Then submerge the land with water. Make sure that the water depth is at least 10cm.
Water chestnut cultivation needs fertilizer twice in a season. Once when preparing the land and another when the seedlings grow up. The ratio is the same, 1kg Nitrogen:0.5kg Potassium:1.7kg Phosphorus.
Pest and Diseases:
Most of the time water chestnut is not affected by pest and disease. But sometimes, some fungi and animals attract the crops. Such as
Waterfowl damage the corms and stems.
- Fly Larvae and Other Leaf-eating Caterpillars:
They feed on the stems.
- Planthoppers and Scale Insects:
These insects damage the plant sap. This cause death to the plant.
Without these rodents and grazing animals, nematodes Ditylenchus spp, Dolichodorus Heterocephalus, and Fungal species may damage the crop.
Harvest the crop when the chestnut turns brown. You can use a modified gladioli corm harvester. In this case, you need to drain the paddy. If you are not interested to drain the paddy then use a water-suction harvester. You can also collect the corps manually. But this takes too much time. After collecting the chestnuts wash them properly.
Cultivation Process in the Garden:
You can also Cultivate water chestnut in your garden for your own use. In the garden produce the seedlings in a tub. Take a large size plastic tub. Fill this tub with an organic potting mix. In the early spring plant corms in the tub. Plant only 2 corms per 1 square foot. Otherwise, the yield will reduce. Fill the tub with water.
The water depth should be 10cm. If water evaporates then again fill the tub with water. Wait until the water chestnuts become mature. Generally, it takes 6 to 7 months. When the chestnuts hold brown color drain the water and collect the chestnut.
Store the chestnuts at 4°C temperature. It is the ideal temperature for water chestnut storage. Don’t store water chestnuts above 13 °C. Above 13.6 °C temperature water chestnuts star sprouting.
In Asian countries, the yield of water chestnut is 20-40 t/ha and in the North America 28 t/ha.
Why Cultivate Water Chestnut Plant Commercially:
Water chestnut plant cultivation needs a little capital. The management cost is also low. The expenditure for per hectare is around $440. And in a season, you can earn $2380 per hectare. In South Asian countries there are plenty of unused marshlands. If you are from these countries, you can easily use these marshlands to cultivate water chestnut. You can also export. There is a great demand for it in several countries. As it needs little care and time, you can also cultivate water chestnut plant as a part-time job.
Water chestnut is a very nutritive fruit. It is rich in minerals and vitamins. In China and some Asian countries, people use it to build flour and cake. For all of this, nowadays water chestnut cultivation become very popular, especially in Asian countries.