Betel nut / Arecanut cultivation practices


Arecanut is cultivated in India in an area of 3.13 lakh hectares with a production of 3.79 lakh tons. It is grown primarily in Karnataka, Kerala, Assam, Maharashtra and West Bengal. The major areca nut producing countries in the world are India, China, Bangladesh, Indonesia, and Myanmar. India leads the world in production followed by China and Bangladesh. Arecanut, being a profitable commercial plantation crop, it is important to understand the package of practices to be followed and adopt the same to maximize the returns.

Scientific name- Areca catechu L.


Climate and soil requirement for Arecanut

Arecanut requires abundant and well-distributed rainfall. It grows well within the temperature range of 14-36°C. It can be cultivated up to an altitude of 1000 m in deep and well-drained soils with the low water table. Laterite, red loam and alluvial soils are most suited.


Varieties of Arecanut


Growth Habit

Shape and Size of nut

Chali yield(Kg/palm)

Recommended For

South local


Round, Bold


Coastal Karnataka Kanara


Saemi Tall

Round, Small





Oval, Medium


Karnataka, Kerala



Round, Small





Oval to round Medium


West Bengal, Karnataka and Kerala



Round, Medium


Uttara Kannada



Oblong, Small


Malnad areas of Karnataka



Round, Medium


Coastal areas

Raising planting material for Arecanut

Mother palm should be more than ten years old with early bearing nature with good fruit set. Fully ripe nuts weighing more than 35g should be selected from mother palms. Selected seed nuts are sown 5cm apart in sand beds with their stalk ends pointing upwards. Beds are to be watered daily.

Three-month-old sprouts can be transplanted in secondary nursery beds of 150cm width and convenient length. Apply a basal dose of well-decomposed cattle manure@ 5 tonnes per ha. Transplant the sprouts at a spacing of 30x30cm with the onset of monsoon, provide partial shade, irrigate during December to May and provide drainage during the rainy season. Periodical weeding and mulching are required. Polythene bags (25x15cm, 150 gauge) with a potting mixture (top soil: farm yard manure: sand 7:3:2) can also be used to raise secondary nursery.

Seedling selection of Arecanut

Twelve to eighteen-month-old seedlings with more than five leaves and minimum height should be used for transplanting to the main field.


Planting time required for Arecanut

Planting should be done in May-June in well-drained soils. In clay soils prone to water logging, planting may be postponed to August-September.


Spacing and alignment for Arecanut

Planting is to be done at a spacing of 2 .7m x 2.7 m. The rows may be aligned in the north-south direction by deflecting the north-south line at an angle of 35 ° towards the west to minimize sun scorching. Protect outer row of plants on South – West and Southern sides from the sun scorching by covering the stem with areca leaves or leaf sheaths or by growing tall and quick growing shade trees. When areca nut is planted as a mixed crop with other crops, a spacing of 3 .3m x 3 .3m is optimum.


A pit of the size of 90 x 90 x 90 cm is preferred when the soils are deep and well drained. In heavy soils with added impedance to drainage, pit size of 60 x 60 x 60 cm is preferable. Pits should be filled with top soil, farmyard manure and sand up to 50cm. Seedling should be planted at the centre of the pit and put soil to cover up to the collar region of the seedling. Banana can be raised as a shade crop in the interspaces during the initial years.


Fertilizers requirement for the plantation of Arecanut

A fertilizer dose of 100g N, 40g P2O2 and 140g K2O (200g of urea; 200g of rock phosphate and 230 g of muriate of  Potash) per palm per year is recommended. 12kg of green leaf and 12kg compost or cattle manure should be applied every year. While the full dose of organic manure is to be applied every year, it should be enough if we apply 1/3 of the chemical fertilizers during the first year; 2/3 of the recommended fertilizer during the second year and full dose of fertilizer from third year onwards.

Under rainfed conditions, 1/3 of the recommended dose in April-May and 2/3 in September-October should be applied. Under irrigated conditions, the April-May dose can be applied in February.

During February or April-May, broadcast the fertilizer around the base of each palm after weeding and mix with the soil by light forking. During September-October open the basin to the radius of  75-100 cm and a depth of 15-20 cm, apply the fertilizer and cover with dug soil.


Organic matter recycling

On an average,  5.5-6 tones of organic wastes/ha/year will be available in Arecanut garden. Direct recycling of these waste does not meet the crop demand immediately. Vermiculture technique is proved to be an efficient method in composting. To prepare vermicompost, areca wastes are chopped into small pieces of 10cm and heaped. The heap is sprinkled with water daily and maintained for two weeks. Then the chopped material is arranged in beds of one-meter width and convenient length.

For this, cement tanks and trenches can be used. A layer of 10-15cm waste material is alternated with a 2cm layer of little cow dung over which earthworms are released at the rate of 1000 no. Per square meter. The wastes are converted into fine granular, odourless vermicompost within 60 days. During this period the earthworm population is doubled. About 8kg/palm/year of vermicompost meets the crop nutrient demand. The two cultured species of earthworms. Eudrilus eugeniae and Eisenia foetida can be used.


Irrigation and drainage of Arecanut

Under Dakshina Kannada conditions, palms are irrigated once in 7 days during November-December, every six days during February and every four days during March-May. At each irrigation, 175 litres of water should be applied per palm. In drip irrigation, only 16-20 litre of water per day per palm is sufficiently resulting in saving of 44 percent of water over hose method. 2-3 microtubes/drippers should be placed in the basin opposite to each other or in a triangle. Adequate drainage with 75cm deep drainage channels should be provided during the rainy season.


Cultural operations

Soil should be loosened with light digging in October-November. Terracing should be provided in undulated lands to prevent soil erosion.


Cover cropping

Mimosa invisa,  Stylosanthes gracilis, Calapogonium muconoides and  Pueraria javanica are suitable as cover crops. The seed rate required per hectare for Mimosa, Stylosanthes, Calapogonium and Pueraria is 15kg, 9kg, 11 kg and 11 kg, respectively. Sowing of these crops may be done during May-June and can be cut and incorporated during October.


Mixed Cropping

The long pre-bearing period and high investment and low returns in the initial years are the main reasons which make it essential to take up inter/mixed cropping in areca nut plantations. Banana, pepper, and cocoa can be grown in inter-spaces as a mixed crop in coastal Karnataka and Kerala. Acid lime and betel vine are suggested in West Bengal and Maidan parts of Karnataka.

Banana can be planted simultaneously with areca nut in the centre of four palms.Besides the main crop, two ratoon crops can be taken up, and after three years, entire crop is to be replanted. When areca palms attain the age of 6-8 years, two rooted cuttings of pepper are to be planted on the northern side of the palm at 75cm distance. Cocoa is an ideal mixed crop in areca nut garden.


Spacing Fertilizer N:P:K g/plantSuitable varieties


Pit Size(Cm)

Fertilizer N:P:K(g/plant)

Suitable Varieties




Mysore Poovan, Karpuravally, Robusta, Malbhog




Karimunda and Panniyur – 1





High-density multi-species cropping system

When more than one mixed crop is grown in an areca nut garden simultaneously, it is called as high-density multispecies cropping system. In coastal Karnataka and Kerala, banana, pepper, and cocoa can be grown together. Banana, pepper and acid lime can be profitably grown together in Maidan parts of Karnataka. In West Bengal, cultivation of banana, betel vine, and acid lime together in areca nut gardens is suggested for higher profits.


 Plant protection

Arecanut pests and their management:

1. Mites (red and white)(Rasiella indica and Oligonychus indicus Hirst.).

Mites feed on the lower surface of areca nut leaves. The colony is found under white webs. Leaf shows yellow speckles and a bronzed appearance. The attack is severe in summer months. The pest can be controlled by spraying Kelthane (Dicofol) 2mlll of water to the under the surface of infested leaves. Repeat spraying at an interval of IS-20 days if there is a recurrence of the pest.


2. Spindle bug (Carvalhoia arecae)

Symptom appears as linear dark brown necrotic lesions on spindles, and the opened leaves show these lesions as patches.

Spraying the spindles of areca palms in infested areas with Dimethoate (Roger 30EC) lSmV 10 litres of water will effectively control the pest. Very fine spraying must be done, avoiding the sunny hours of the day.

Placement of 2g Phorate granules (Thimet lOG) in perforated poly- sachets in the innenno. WO leafax ils of areca palms during April is an effective practice for maintenance of the gardens free of spindle bugs in severely infested tracks.


3. Root grub (Leucopholis burmeisteri)

Grubs feed on growing roots. Infected palms show a sickly appearance with yellowing of leaves, tapering of stem and reduction in yield.

The following measures can be adopted for controlling the pest:

  • Provide good drainage.
  • Collect adult beetles in the evening hours of 6.30-7.30PM, after 8-10 days of pre-monsoon showers and kill them.
  • Apply ISg Phorate (Thimet lOG) per palm twice a year during May and September-October and repeat it for 3 years. Apply organics like neem cake (2kg / palm/year) for improving the soil structure and thereby enabling the regeneration of roots.


4. Tender nut drop (Halyomorpha marmorea)

This can be due to various reasons, one of them being caused by a bug, Halyomorpha marmorea .

A premature drop of the nuts and pin – prick like black puncture marks on the shed nuts are the identifying symptoms.

Spray Endosulphan 0 .05 % ( 15 ml in 10 I of water) to the tender bunches in the affected gardens after checking the cause of tender nut drop.


5. Scale insect ( Aonidiella orientalis and Ischnaapsis longinostris )

The scale insects are seen feeding on nuts, rachillae, and leaves. They suck the sap from the plant tissues. As a result of continuous sucking, the tissues of the plant become yellow, and severe feeding leads to withering and shedding of butt.ons/ fruits. Damage is very heavy during drought conditions.

Ladybird beetles, Chilocorus nigrita and Chilocorus circumdatus, are found to be effective biocontrol agents against the scale insects attacking areca nut. These can be released in affected areca garden to control the scale insects.


6. Inflorescence caterpillar  (Tirathaba mundella)

The pest causes damage to areca inflorescence, feeding on the tender rachillae and female flowers. Mechanical injury is a predisposing factor for infestation.

Affected spadices may be forced open, and if the female flowers are damaged, the inflorescence should be removed and burnt. If the damage is partial, remove affected portion.


Arecanut Diseases and their management

1. Koleroga or  Mahali  (Phytophthora meadii)

Heavy shedding of nuts during the rainy season is the major symptom. Water soaked lesions are formed near the perianth end, and as a result, the nuts become dark green and finally shed.

The following measures should be taken to control the disease.

  • Spray Bordeaux mixture (I %) to the bunches at least two times at an interval of 4Sdays. The first spray should be given immediately after the first few monsoon showers. If the monsoon prolongs, a third spray is essential.
  • Collect all the infected nuts and other plant parts and destroy them. Covering the bunches with polybags gives a complete control.


2. Bud rot and Crown rot (Phytophthora meadii)

Symptoms of bud rot appear as yellowing of spindle leaf and rotting of growing bud and surrounding tissues. Palm emits a disagreeable odour. Crown rot symptom initiates from the leaf sheath of outermost leaves during South-West monsoon and gradually spreads towards the growing bud. Severe infection leads to the death of the palm. Both the diseases are seen during mon.soon and subsequent cooler months up to February.

Remove the infected tissue completely and treat the wound of the plant with Bordeaux paste. Spray Bordeaux mixture (I %) to the crown of healthy palms which are in the vicinity of the affected palm.


3. Inflorescence dieback and  Button shedding

Caused by several factors including the fungus, Colletotrichum gloeosporioides.

The symptom appears as yellowing and drying of rachis from the tip towards the base followed by shedding of female flowers.

Control measures are as follows:

  • Spray Indofil M 45 (@ 3g/l) or Dithane Z 78 (@4g1l) on the opening of female flowers in most of the inflorescences. This should be followed by a second spray after 25 days.
  • Remove the fully affected inflorescences and destroy them by burning to prevent the spread and severity of the disease.


4. Anabe roga or foot rot (Ganoderma lucidum)

Symptom initiates as yellowing of outer whorl of leaves gradually extending to inner whorls. In advanced stages, the leaves droop and drop off, finally leaving only one or two leaves along with spindle. Rotting of roots and internal tissues of the basal portion of the stem are other symptoms. It is difficult to identify the diseased palm in the early stages of infection.

The following measures can be taken to control the disease:

  • Proper management of the garden is recommended to check the occurrence of the disease.
  • Improve the water drainage from the field
  • Drench the root zone of the affected palms with 0 .3% Calixin (3m III) @ IS­ 20 J/palm + Root feeding of I.S % Calixin (ISml/J) @ 12Sml/palm at quarterly intervals.
  • Apply 2kg neem cake per palm per year.
  • Phytosanitary measures like cutting and burning of the dead palms along with bole and roots should be followed strictly. Isolate the diseased palms by taking trenches of 30cm wide and 60cm deep around the palm.


5. Band disease

This is caused because of improper drainage or physiological disorder. Symptoms include small crinkled dark green leaves, tapering stem, and reduced internodal length. Roots are poorly formed, and they are brittle, short and crinkled.

Provision of good drainage and better soil management are important to reduce disease incidence. Removing hard pan of subsoil and application of micronutrients are effective measures to reduce the disease intensity. Application of a total quantity of 22Sg of copper sulphate and lime in equal quantities are also found to improve the condition of the affected palms. The band affected palms may respond to the basal application of Borax (25g/palm/year).


6. Nut splitting

This is a physiological disorder. A sudden flush of water after a period of water stress is the main cause.Initial symptom appears as premature yellowing of nuts when they are half to three-fourth mature. This is followed by splitting of nuts from both sides or the tips which expand longitudinally towards the calyx exposing the kernel.

Improvement of drainage and spraying of Borax @2g/l in the initial stages of disease are found effective in controlling the disease.


7. Leaf spot  (Colletotrichum gloeoesporioides; Phyllosticta)

The disease appears during South-West monsoon season. Plants up to 10 years are more susceptible. Small brown to dark brown or black round spots are seen on the lamina. Severe infection causes stunted growth in seedlings.

Phytosanitary measures including removal and destruction of diseased leaves are to be followed strictly. Control can be achieved by spraying Bordeaux mixture (1 %) or 0.3% Dithane M- 45 (3g / I of water).

8. Yellow leaf disease

This is caused by Phytoplasma and transmitted by the vector, Proutista moesta.

Yellowing of leaves is the main symptom. It starts from the tip of the leaflets of the outer leaves and sometimes seen in the middle whorl. Yellowing spreads gradually extending from the margin to the middle of lamina; portions near the midrib remain green. In advanced stages, yellowing spreads to all leaves completely, and they dry and fall off. The kernel of the nuts of affected palms become soft, show blackish discolouration and assumes a spongy texture.

Since the disease is not amenable to control by conventional plant protection measures, other means of controlling the disease have to be adopted.

  • The yield of the disease affected garden can be sustained by ·adopting the recommended management practices such as balanced fertilizer application (NPK @ 100: 40: 140g/palm/year) and application of an additional dose of Superphosphate with lime (1 kg/palm). Application of organic manure @ 12kg/palm/year along with the provision of summer irrigation and drainage can improve the condition of the palms.
  • Remove the diseased palms in the mildly affected areas to prevent the spread of the disease and adopt need-based plant protection measures against other pests and diseases.


Harvesting and processing of Arecanut

Harvesting of nuts at correct stages is very important for obtaining the produce of better quality. Ensure that fully ripe nuts alone are harvested for preparation of chali. The out-tum of Patora and Koka will be more if unripe or under-ripe nuts are harvested, which fetches the only lower price in the market. The harvested nuts will have to be sun-dried for about 45 days. It is essential to spread the nuts uniformly in a single layer for drying. Turn up the nuts once a week for ensuring uniform drying and better quality of produce. Proper drying of the nuts is important to prevent a fungal infection of the nuts in the drying yard.



“Arecanut – Agriculture Information.” Insert Name of Site in Italics. N.p., n.d. Web. 26 Apr. 2017 <>.

Arecanut | Official Website of DASD, Calicut. (n.d.). Retrieved from

  • Central Plantation Crop Research Institute, Kasaragod, Kerala, India.
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