Chayote (Skush) Cultivation
Skush (Chayote) is perennial cucurbit crop which can be cultivated for tender growing tips as leafy vegetable, tender fruit and rhizome (tarul) in single season which makes it multi-purpose vegetable crop. But young fruits are the main harvest of chayote in Nepal which are consumed as vegetable and pickles. It is also used as supportive ingredient to prepare baby foods, jam and ketchup. Flowers of chayote consists of plenty of nectar which is best for bee feeding.
Chayote is considered to be originated from Mexico and Central America. It is commercially cultivated in Central and South America. Eastern Hilly region of Nepal has started commercial cultivation of this whereas it is normally cultivated in all parts of Nepal. Chayote can be cultivated in slopy land too and it bears highest number of fruits than other vegetable crops. Commercial cultivation of chayote is possible in every part of Nepal with bright future of market.
Climate & Soil:
It is better in warm and humid climate and can be cultivated successfully from sea level to 2000 m altitude. For cultivation of this crop, relative humidity of 80-85% and annual rainfall of 1500-2000 mm with temperature of 18-22 degree Celsius. This particular climatic condition is prevalent in rainy and autumn season of Nepal. This crop can be cultivated in gorges, besins, Terai and Inner-Terai of Nepal during winter season too. Chayote cannot tolerate cold and high temperature both which leads to lower production.
Similarly, it requires well drained soil rich in organic matter with pH of 5.5-6.5 and particularly sandy loam soil. Tender growing tip (Munta) can be produced even in Mangsir to Jestha period in Terai and Mid hills of Nepal though fruit cannot be produced.
Growing season for tendril (Munta) production:
Terai and Inner Terai:
Sowing during Mangsir and harvesting from Magh to Jestha.
Sowing during Kartik-Mangsir and harvesting from Magh to Ashad.
Sowing during Falgun-Chaitra and harvesting from Baisakh to Ashoj.
Field preparation & Manuring:
Plough the field deeply for 2-3 times, breaking clods, removing weeds and crop debris and planking to level the field. It can be planted by both planting in pit or in bed. Apply manure @ 10 kg FYM, 20 grams DAP, 30 grams Urea and 30 grams potash per square meter mixing well and planting chayote at the center of the bed. According to pit system, apply the same quantity of fertilizer, fill the pit and plant it. Organic farming of chayote is very successful.
Spacing & Planting:
Beds of 70-100 cm wide are prepared with length of convenient size. Spacing between two beds is maintained at 30-50 cm wide. If planting is to be done in pit, its size is maintained at 45 * 45 * 45 cm dimensions. Spacing recommended is 1.0-1.5 m Row to row * 1 m plant to plant i.e. (1-1.5 m * 1 m).
Sprouted fruits are directly planted in main field or they are raised in nursery and seedlings are planted in the main field at slanting angle. Do not cover the upper part of fruit completely with soil and seedlings are transplanted after winter ends during Magh-Falgun.
For leafy vegetable, apply 25 grams of urea per plant during peak vegetative growth stage is applied around the plant in ring method and irrigation is given. Before the climbers becomes bushier, weeding is to be done for 2-3 times. For tendril production, apply 10 grams urea after each picking or harvesting.
During the drought or summer season apply irrigation at 5-7 days interval whereas during the rainy season, well drainage system is maintained to avoid water stagnation.
Pruning & Staking:
For production of green tendril or growing tips, staking with simply bamboo parts or tree branches or just mulching will be sufficient.
During Mangsir – Poush in Hilly regions the plant is cut at 1-1.5 m height from ground surface and all old branches or climbers should be removed. After weeding around the plant apply 10 kg FYM per plant. During the spring season where new flushes starts to grow, apply 50 grams DAP, 50 grams Urea and 50 grams Potash in ring method of every plants followed by irrigation. After flowering according to the plant condition, additional 25 – 50 grams urea per plant is added. This method of manuring is given every year.
Harvesting & Yield:
Green leafy tendrils are harvested from Falgun to Ashad in Hilly regions whereas in Terai and Inner -Terai it is harvested up to only Jestha from Falgun.
Per plant, green tendril yield is almost 2.5 – 5 kg.
After harvesting the green tendril, it should be immediately consumed or transported to the nearest market.
Disease management in cucurbit are the diseases and their management of chayote too. You can learn it from here.
Pest management in cucurbit are the pests and their management of chayote too. You can learn it from here.