Gerbera cultivation can be very profitable for farmers who have small landholdings but a good market for this high-value flower.
Transportation by train and buses is possible to reach nearby markets within 12-36 hrs. Flowers fetch a price of Rs. 40-50/ton that spikes during New year season, festivals, Christmas, Valentine Day celebrations, etc.
Flowers fetch a very good price during marriage seasons. Growers can avail of finance facilities under various schemes of state and central government so that venture becomes very remunerative.
What is Gerbera?
The botanical name of Gerbera is Gerbera Jemesonii and is a natural herb. Flower stalks are long, thin and leaf-less. It flowers year-round in warm, humid conditions.
It is also possible to cultivate gerbera as a field crop in the open air on raised beds, as a greenhouse plant under controlled conditions (protected cultivation) and as a potted plant.
The uses of gerbera are many. It is grown as a garden plant for beautification or on flower beds, borders and in the rock garden. Flower arrangements are possible in a vase also.
Use in flower bouquet is quite common. Gerberas plantation is possible by seeds, buds cut with clumps cutting and by tissue culture.
Varieties of Gerbera
There are several varieties. Many varieties are released by private companies also. Some of the varieties are Dalma (white), Dana Ellen (yellow), Rosalyn (pink), Savannah (red), Cream Clementine (cream white) and Maron Clementine (orange).
It is recommended that tissue-cultured plants of good varieties from reputed companies may be procured.
What is Greenhouse and What is the Requirement?
It is a greenhouse having a covering of UV stabilized thick transparent white polyethylene. The structure is made of galvanized iron pipes with aerodynamically suited design to withstand winds.
The low-cost structures are made of locally available timber and bamboos but their durability is less.
The Naturally ventilated polyhouse is suitable for Gerbera cultivation under hot and humid conditions.
It does not require a fan and cooling system. Openings on sides and ontop provide sufficient ventilation. The nets are provided openings to avoid entry of insects.
Advantages of Polyhouse
1) Controlled conditions of RH, Temperature, Light.
2) Protection from rains, storms scorching sunlight.
3) Protection from pests and diseases.
Conditions most suitable for Gerbera Cultivation
1) RH 70-75% (High RH increases disease incidence and flower deformity).
2) Temperature 20-30 °C (Less than 12 °C and higher than 35 C adversely affects flower production.
3) Shade net for 50-70% sunlight (400 Watt /sq. m is required). The shade-nets cut the scorching sunlight to 50-70%.
Polyhouse area and other features
For commercial production, the units of the size of 500-1000 sqm and above are very viable. Polyhouse of area lower than 500-1000 sq.m is also feasible for commercial cultivation if the labor and other overhead costs are low. The height of 5-6.5 m in the middle is sufficient for air circulation.
Ventilation nets on sides and top have a polyethene sheet covering for protection from rain during monsoon.
Fog or mist-system to lower the temperature and increase RH during peak summer season (April- May) in hot and humid conditions. It has to be operated for a short duration during peak hours in summer when temperatures are high and humidity is low.
It is an important feature of polyhouse. Drip system for fertigation consists of a pump, filter and liquid fertilizer mixing unit.
The distribution manifold, laterals with drippers (one dripper per plant) and water tank are the other parts of this system. Water supplied to the system should be clean and a tank of 5000 liters is sufficient for the 500sqm unit.
Soil Requirement and Growing Medium for Gerbera
The soil used in the growing medium should have a pH of 5.5 to 6.5. Electrical conductivity should not be more than 1(ms/cm ) for soil and irrigation water. Soil texture should b well-drained and porous as the roots may go up to 50 to 60cm deep.
Don’t use poultry or other manures. Soil and FYM are mixed in the ratio of two parts to one. The addition of rotted manure in the soil before sterilization is a must.
Sterilization of Growing Medium
Sterilization of soil is necessary for reducing the risk of Phytophthora, Pythium, Fusarium. Formalin or formaldehyde ( 1 liter in 10-liter water) is sprinkled (1-2lit/sqm) with rose can on the mixed growing medium layer of 1-1.5 feet height and covered with plastic.
Remove the plastic after 1 week. Flush the traces of formalin with water 50-80lit/sq. m. Wait for one week for good tillage condition of the soil.
Planting Beds and initial Fertilizer Application
Raised beds of 80 cm width are suitable for planting. The base should be 90 cm with a height of 45-60 cm. Gravels can be put at the bottom of the bed for better drainage.
Keep 45 cm space between beds as a working space. Add and mix 2.5 kg Single Super Phosphate and 0.5 kg magnesium sulfate for 10 sq.m. bed area.
Plant three rows of plants per bed with a 30 cm distance on one bed. Plant to plant distance should be 30cm. Planting is done with the root ball and the crown is kept above the soil surface (1 cm).
Irrigate lightly after planting. In1000 sqm area, 5000 plants can be planted with 3 rows and in 500 sq.m. area, 2500 plants can be accommodated.
Cultural Operations after Planting of Gerbera
The relative humidity is maintained at 70-80% for the first 4 weeks. Irrigate plants lightly with rose can after planting daily for 4 weeks (twice in a day).
Drenching of soil with fungicide Captan and Benlate (1g/litre) after 3 and 6 days, respectively is recommended. Spray Nuvan(Dichlorvos) (1.5 ml) after 9 days.
Apply humic acid (1.5 ml/litre) as a drench after 7 days. Chelated micronutrients spray (0.5g/lit) after 10 days at an interval of 3-4 days up to one month.
Fertilizers are applied as a drench to soil with14:42:14 (1.5g/ litre) after 13 days. Another drench with19:19:19 (N:P:K) @ 2 g/litre can be given after 17 days.
Continue this at the interval of 3-4 days up to 4 weeks. Kelthane and Endosulfan sprays are applied to take care of mites and other insects when required. Remove weeds regularly.
Drench solution should be applied at the rate of 40ml/plant while for spray use 12 litres of solution for 1000 plants as the plants are small initially.
Fertilizers and Irrigation (Fertigation)
After one-month plants get established and liquid fertilizers can be given through a drip.
Apply 20:20:20 N:P:K at alternate day @ 0.4 g/plant) through drip during 2 and 3 months along with micronutrients and Calcium chelates.
From the fourth month onwards apply 15:8:35 or 16:8:24 N:P:K + 0:0: 50 alternate day@ 0.4 g plant as the flowering picks-up calcium nitrate (250g) and chelated micronutrient mixture (Rexolin or Fetrilon Combi-Oil tradenames) at 25g (for roughly 1000 plants) should be given once in 8-10 days through a drip.
The grown-up plant needs 700 ml of water per day hence dripper flow at each plant has to be checked and adjusted accordingly.
Mix the liquid fertilizer in water in a small tank of fertigation system. Adjust the flow through the mixing unit by adjusting the valves. Drips can measure the flow of water. Check the flow of drippers over the entire area, it should be even to all plants.
For example, 1000 plants require 700 litres water and 400 gm fertilizer quantity. (700 ml water with 0.4g fertilizer to each plant).
Insect/Pests and their Control
Thrips, leaf miners and mites are very common pests and need to be terminated immediately as and when they appear. The spray solution quantity can be doubled or tripled as the plants grow so as to cover all plants.
|Whitefly Dimethoate||(Rogor), Endosulphan (2ml/litre of water)|
|Leaf Miner||Chlorpyrifos, dichlorvos (Nuvan) (1ml/litre)|
|Thrips||Rogor, Nuvacron (2ml/litre)|
|Mites||Dicofol (Kelthane), wettable sulphur (1.5g)|
|Leaf Eating caterpillar||Thimet (Phorate) (2g/plant) apply around the base of the plant|
Diseases and their control
Root rot, crown rot, and leaf spot are common diseases.
|Root rot||This can be controlled with Captan, Benlate, Aliette drench to soil (2glit)|
|Crown rot||Aliette, Topsin-M (2 g/litre)|
|Powdery mildew||Wettable Sulphur spray (1.5g)|
|Alternaria leaf spot||Dithane M-45 (Mancozeb) spray (1.5g)|
Harvesting of Gerbera
Gerbera plants produce flowers 7-8 weeks after planting. Plants have a productive life up to 24-30 months. One plant produces 35 to 40 flowers per year. it can yield 80 to 100 flowers in span of 30 months.
Flowers are ready to harvest after the development of 2-3 whorls of the stamen. Pluck the flower at the heel with angular cut Plucking in the morning or evening.
Post Harvest Quality and Management.
Flowers with stalk length 45-55cm and diameter 10-12 cm fetch a very good price as they are ‘A’ grade flowers. Vase life is 8-10 days. For best vase life put the cut end of the flower in clean water at 15 degrees centigrade for 4 hrs.
Add 10 ml Sodium Hypochlorite in 1-litre water before placing the flower. For long-distance transport corrugated box/cartons are put to use. Gerbera doesn’t need cooling like rose or carnation and has a reasonably long shelf life.
It is economical growing Gerbera in polyhouse. The break-even is achieved within 1 year (it means the costs are recoverable in 1 year). Economics for 500 and200 sq. m. unit is as follows.
Economics of Gerbera Cultivation in Polyhouse
|item of expenditure||Area 500 sq.m.||Area 200 sq.m|
|Fixed cost Rs.|
|Poly house @ Rs. 400 sq.m 2 lakhs||2 lakh||0.80lakh|
|Fertigation unit (1 quantity)||0.4 lakh||0.15lakh|
|FYM, Soil, Bed sterilization 0.25 lakhs 0.10 lakhs||.25 lakh||0.10 lakh|
|Planting material@Rs.30jplant||0.75 lakh for 2500 plants||.27 lakh for 900 pllnats|
|A.Total fixed cos||3.4lakh||lakh|
|B. After subsidy 50% on the fixed cost||1.70lakhs||lakh|
| Bank interest 8% on the full amount of fixed cost for 3 months and on|
the half amount for 9 months
|Labour skilled (one)Rs. 150/day||0.54 lakh|
|Labour unskilled (one) Rs.80 day||0.29lakh||0.29 lakh|
|Electricity and others||0.11 lakh||0.051 lakh|
|C.Total recurring cos||1.24 lakh||0.46 lakh|
|Flower production 40 plants/year||100000 flowers||36000 flowets|
|D. Income from sale@R3.5/flower 3.50 lakh 1.26 lakh||3.50 lakh||1.26lakh|
|E. Gross income =D-C+interest) 2.09 lakh 0.734 lakh||2.09 lakh||0.734 lakh|
|Net income E-B||0.39 lakh||0.074 lakh|
At the end of the year, net income of 0.39 lakh in 500 sqm
unit and 0.074 lakh in 200 sqm unit is possible with the help of subsidy.