Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Melia Dubia : At 5 months and many more to go...

Finally, monsoons are over(fortunately it was not as heavy as last year) and the weather is fantastic. On the low end at 17C and at maximum of 29C, it is almost too good to be true for this part of the country. As promised, here is an update on Melia Dubia and the progress thus far.

If you recall, we planted Melia Dubia saplings during first week of August, right at the onset of pre-monsoon showers. In case you missed the blog, you can check it out at

So far the plants have demonstrated robust growth. At almost 5 months, some of our 'star' trees stand tall at 12 feet, though the average height would be about 5-6 feet. We have witnessed patchy growth in a few areas so it is evident that the growth is dependent on soil quality, moisture (excessive moisture is detrimental) and soil loosening. There were a couple of lines that we added later on but the pits were dug by hand (and not deep enough by a JCB). The plants in these pits have not grown as well as the others - in other words, loosening of soil to about 2 ft is essential for a good growth.

We have not applied any chemical additives so far and plan to minimize their use as much as possible (may be 3-4 times a year). It is said that the compactness of timber is reduced on using fertilizers.

To give you a reference, our worker is about 5 ft 7 inches tall.

Although the overall growth is encouraging and finally one part of the farm is lush and green, we had a little firefighting to do during monsoons ( that's an agri-oxymoron!). Our Melia Dubia plots are close to a couple of large village water tanks. During monsoons, the ground water in these plots rose leading to excessive underground moisture. We had about 40-50 plants that succumbed to root rot.

Root rot is a condition when the roots decay due to excessive moisture. Wilting of leaves is a symptom and fruity smell from the roots confirms the condition. We contained the problem by applying Bavistin (fungicide) 2gm/L on the plants.

Drooping branches and wilting leaves are typical symptoms of root rot. A red ribbon was tied to ascertain if the condition is infectious. Although it is said that root rot can spread to other healthy plants by water and soil, we did not notice it on our farm.

Plant afflicted with severe root rot.

In the first couple of months, we witnessed yellowing of leaves in large numbers. One of our consultants suggested applying Ferrous Sulphate mixed with Neemcake (for iron deficiency). The blunder we made was applying the mixture right at the base of the stem. For all the new agri-preneurs out there, it is almost never a good idea to apply any kind of manure or additive at the based of the plant. You should always maintain a little distance from the stem. General rule of thumb is to apply the mixture at the circumference of the canopy.
Though there were a few casualties that could not be recovered, we were able to salvage most of them. Now, a number of these plants have a black ring around the stem (Neemcake is hot and should not be used in excessive amounts).

A decimated stem due to improper application of neemcake.

This should be the last post for 2011 unless I suddenly feel the urge to post an update on watermelons on new years' eve. Watermelon seeds have shown good sprouting in 7 days.

Thanks to all the readers for following our activities and developments. Wishing everyone a happy and prosperous year ahead!


  1. Try Phosphonates for Phytophthora infection.

  2. Thanks! What would be a common trade name that I can ask farm input supplier?

  3. For more info about pest/fungal attack on Melia dubia please visit:

    A nice good site.

  4. Thanks for sharing! The site is already there in links tab.

  5. The wilt may be due to ceratocystis. Were there any tiny insects making shot holes in the trees. Can you contact at

  6. No, I do not remember seeing any insects on the stem.