VANILLA BEANS,PLANTS,SUPPORT SYSTEMS
VANILLA PLANTS - SUPPLIES & OFFERS
VANILLA FROM AROUND THE WORLD
ABOUT VANILLA SPECIES
Porteres in Bouriquet (1954) describes 110 species of vanilla, distributed in the tropics of both the world and the New World. They belong to the orchid family, Orchidaceae, which is the largest family of flowering plants, with about 700 genera and 20,000 species. The Orchidaceae comprise a very natural, distinctive and highly advanced group of monocotyledons. They are perennial herbs which are widely distributed throughout the world with the greatest number in the tropics.
They exhibit a wide range of life form and have terrestrial, climbing, epiphytic and saprophytic species. Apart from the large number of ornamental species which are grown for the flowers, vanilla is the only genus which has species of economic importance.
The correct name of the commonly cultivated vanilla of commerce is Vanilla fragrans (Salisb) Ames, Syn V. planifolia Andrews, Epidendrum vanilla L. Myrobroma fragrans Salisb.
Two other species are occasionally cultivated, but yield an inferior product, they are:
V. pompana Schiede, West Indian Vanilla, which occurs wild in southeastern Mexico, Central America, Trinidad and northern South America. It is cultivated to a small extent in Guadeloupe, Martinique and Dominica. It resembles V. fragrans, but the leaves are larger, being 15 - 30 cm long and 5 – 12 cm wide. The greenish yellow flowers are larger and more fleshy, with perianth lobes up to 8.5 cm long. The lip has a tuft of intricate scales, instead of hairs in the center of the disc. The cylindrical pods are shorter and thicker, being 10 – 17.5 cm long and 2.4 – 3.3 cm in diameter.
V. tahitensis J.W. Moore, Tahitian vanilla, indigenous to Tahiti and cultivated there and in Hawaii. This species is less robust than V. Fragrans with more slender stems and narrower leaves which are 12 – 14 cm long and about 9 – 10 mm wide, tapering towards each end.
POLLINATION OF VANILLA
The flower is so constructed that self-pollination of the individual flower is impossible, unless hand-pollinated, due to the separation of the stamen from the stigma by the rostellum.
In Mexico and Central America, where vanilla is indigenous, some of the flowers are pollinated by bees of the genus Melapona. Nectaris secreted by the base of the lip and the flowers are sweet-scented. Hummingbirds have been observed visiting the flowers and it has been suggested that they may also be pollinating agents. Elsewhere, hand-pollination is carried out. In Puerto Rico, natural pollination was about 1 percent (Childers and Cibes, 1948). The method of hand-pollination was discovered by Morren in Liege in 1836, and Edmond Albius, a former slave in Reunion, discovered a practical method of artificial pollination in 1841, which is still used.
V. fragrans usually flowers only once a year over a period of about two months. In Mexico this is usually in April and May and in the Malagasy Republic, Reunion and the Comoros Islands between November and January. As already stated, the flowers open from the base of the raceme upwards and usually one, or more rarely two or three flowers are open on the inflorescence at one time.
The flowers open early in the morning; they are receptive for eight hours and wither the following day. Fruit-set is highest when pollination is done early on bright mornings following rain. If fertilization has been successfully achieved, the flowers remain on the rachis; if unsuccessful, the flowers drop off in two or three days. Thus it is possible to judge the number of fruits which have set and to discontinue pollination when the desired number have been obtained.
Hand-pollination is done with a splinter of bamboo or other material about the size of a toothpick. The flower is held in one hand and the labellum is pushed down with the thumb releasing the column.
The stamen cap is removed by the stick which is held in the other hand which exposes the pollinia. Then the flap-like rostellum is pushed up under the stamens with the stick and, by pressing with the thumb and finger, the pollinia are brought into contact with the sticky stigma to which the pollen mass adheres.
When fertile cross-pollinated seed is required, it is, of course necessary to obtain the pollinia from another plant.
PLANTING AND AFTER-CARE
The cuttings are usually planted about 1- 3 meters apart at the foot of the supporting trees or poles. A spacing of 1.0– 1.5 meters in rows 2.5 – 3 meters apart is also sometimes recommended. In the early vanilleries, the plants were often planted so close together that they became entangled. This usually gave very high initial yields, but presented grave problems of access and disease control later.
It is necessary to train the vines so that they may grow at a convenient height for pollination and harvesting. The vines are twisted round the lower branches of the supporting tree or over the lattice of the trellis so that they may hang down. Care is required so as not to tear or bruise the leaves, branches or roots. The top 7.5 – 10 cm of the vine is usually pinched out 6 – 8 months before the flowering season to encourage the reproduction of inflorescences in the axils of the leaves on the hanging branches.
Vanilla usually starts flowering in its second or third year after planting, the time taken depending on the size of the original cuttings. The maximum production of flowers is reached in 7 to 8 years. Given proper care this may continue for years, but in some vanilleries the production period is shorter.
As the flower opens, the requisite number are hand-pollinated. Only the flowers on the lower side of the raceme are pollinated in order that the fruits may hang perpendicularly to produce straight beans; those on the upper side would produce crooked beans of inferior quality. Usually only one flower opens in each inflorescence in one day and is receptive for about 8 hours. Consequently, most of the pollination must be done in the mornings and is continued for 1 or 2 months until the required number of fruits have set. The number of inflorescences and flower per vine, and the number which are pollinated and allowed to produce mature beans, 8 – 10 flowers on 10 – 20 inflorescences are pollinated, of which 4 – 8 capsules are allowed to grow to maturity on each size. If pollination has been a failure, the flowers drop off the next day.
When the desired number of fruits has set, the remaining buds are removed, which may be done by clipping off the tip of the inflorescence. Damaged and malformed capsules are removed during growth. The final number of beans per vine varies greatly and is usually about 30 – 150.
Vanilla grows best under filtered sunlight.
It flourises well in partial shade that cuts out about 50% sunlight. Since it is a climbing vine, it requires support for growing. Dead wood posts, few species of Erythrina, Plumeria alba and Glyricida are suitable standards for trailing vines. The crop is established by planting in situ shoot cuttings of 60-100cm length. After pollination, a full length bean is attained in six weeks time which in turn takes 6 months to reach full maturity. Under reasonable levels of management , Vanilla yields about 500 gms of green beans and 150 gms cured beans per plant.
Our vanilla selction plants with the special technolgy produces flower in 12-18
month periods( special selections of vanilla plants).
The per plant yield will be around 500 gms average in the first year and
going upto 3 kgs per year per plant.
You can get the average of yields per acre( 2 Tons per year after 18 to
24 month period You save around 1 year of gestation period here and thereby
saving on finance costs).
We have developed a new method for the cultivation of vanilla in order to
get more yield as well as good prodcution of selective beans per node.
A one-metre long stem of vanilla is planted initially. After Three months, it starts sprouting from where it was adjusted.
Every month we adjust the plants for it s optimum growth in terms of its branches and apical dominance and therby control the plant growth to make it optimum for flowering.
After nine - twelve months, it starts flowering between the new growth and the point of incision.
After Next year, the second growth starts . It starts flowering and fruiting in bunches from all
the nodes .The plants start yielding within one/ two years depending on active biomass and growth achieved, bunches of pods spring up from many nodes of the same branch and 20 to 25 fruits are obtained from each bunch.
VANILLA SHADE CULTIVATION PRIMER
We grow most of our vanilla in special green houses using 50 % agro shade nets.The main spacing which we use here are around 1-2 m interval between the plants. Each bed is prepared using plastic HDPE mulching in black and the bottom layer is broken terracota tiling. Over this layer we use Charcoal and specially treated wood mulch. Such constructed beds are enriched with organic vermi compost and treated with Trichoderma viride .
Most of our plants are irrigated using a overhead mist irrigation system and thereby we maintain constant humidity to achieve optimum growth of the plant. Our fertigation systems uses a high pressure pump to supply organic food specially prepared for the plant.
To this we add Asco Phyllum seaweed extract , Humic acid, amino derivatives compounded in our lab to provide an enriched supplemental diet to the plant.
We have a production unit for making our own vermi compost used for the vanilla cultivation and our orchids.
We pack around 100 plants per packing box made out of 7 ply corrugated boxes for one meter vines.
VANILLA PLANT STRUCTURE
V. fragrans or vanilla planifolia is a fleshy, herbaceous perennial vine, climbing by means of adventitious roots up trees or other supports to a height of 10 – 15 meters. In cultivation it is trained to a height which will facilitate hand pollination and harvesting.
Long, whitish, aerial, adventitious roots, about 2 mm in diameter, are produced singly opposite the leaves and adhere firmly appressed to the support up which the plant climbs. The roots at the base ramify in the humus or mulch layer. An endotrophic mycorrhiza is present. The outer parchment-like sheath or velamen is rather poorly developed.
The long, cylindrical, monopodial stems are simple or branched, and are succulent, flexuouse and brittle. They are 1 – 2 cm in diameter and are dark green and photosynthetic with stomata. The internodes are 5 – 15 cm in length.
The large, flat, fleshy, subsessile leaves are alternate, oblong-elliptic to lanceolate, and are 8 – 25 cm long and 2 – 8 cm broad. The tip is acute to acuminate and the base somewhat rounded. The veins are numerous, parallel and indistinct. The petiole is short, thick, and canalized above.
The stout inflorescences are axillary, usually simple, and only rarely branched. They are usually borne towards the top of the vine and are 5 – 8 cm long, with up to 20 – 30 flowers, but more usually 6 – 15 opening from the base upwards, generally with only 1 – 3 flowers open at one time and each lasting one day. The rachis is stout, often curved, and 4 – 10 mm in diameter. The bracts are rigid, concave, persistent, 5 – 15 mm long and about 7 mm wide at the base.
The large, waxy, fragrance, pale greenish yellow flowers are about 10 cm in diameter and are fugacious. The pedicel is very short. The inferior, cylindrical, tricarpillary ovary is often curved, 4 – 7 cm long and 1 – 1.5 cm wide. The two upper petals resemble the sepals in shape, but are slightly smaller. The lower petal is modified as a trumpet-shaped labellum or lip, which is shorter than the other perianth lobes and is 4 – 5 cm long and 1.5 – 3 cm broad at its widest point. It is attached to the column which it envelops.
The tip of the lip is obscurely three-lobed and is irregularly toothed on its revolute margin. There are longitudinal verrucose darker colored papillae forming a crest in the median line and with a tuft of hairs in the middle of the disc. The column or gynostemium is 3 – 5 cm long and is attached to the labellum for most of its length. It is hairy on the inner surface, bearing at its tip the single stamen containing the two pollen masses or pollinia covered by a cap, and below is the concave sticky stigma, which is separated from the stamen by the thin, flap-like rostellum.
The capsule, known in the trade as a bean, is pendulous, narrowly cylindrical, obscurely three-angled, 10 – 25 cm long and 5 – 15 mm in diameter. It is aromatic on drying, containing, when ripe, myriads of very minute globose seeds, about 0.3 mm in diameter, which liberated by the capsule split longitudinally. In commercial production the capsules are harvested before they are quite ripe.
In a wild state V. planifolia usually grows climbing on trees in wet tropical lowland forests from sea-level to 600 meters. It thrives best in hot, moist, insular climate, with frequent, but not excessive rain. The optimum temperature is 21-32 degrees Celsius, with an average around 27 degrees Celsius and with an evenly distributed rainfall of 2000-2500 mm per annum, but with two drier months to check vegetative growth and bring the vines to flower. Regions with a prolonged dry season should be avoided.
The most suitable land for vanilla is gently sloping with light friable soil, adequate but not excessive drainage, and a thick surface layer of humus or mulch in which the roots can spread. Excessive water is harmful.
Partial shade is necessary and this is usually provided by the shrubs or small trees upon which the vines are grown.
Commercial vanilla is always propagated by stem cuttings. In vegetative propagation, the cuttings should be taken from healthy vigorous plants and may be cut from any part of the vine. The length of the cutting is usually determined by the amount of planting material available. Short cuttings, 20 cm in length, will take 3 to 4 years to flower and fruit. Cuttings, 90-100 cm in length, are usually preferable.
In some regions, cuttings 2-3.5 m in length may be used. When available, with their free ends hanging over supports; these will flower and fruit in 1 to 2 years. It is usual to remove two to three leaves from the base, which is inserted into the humic layer and mulch. With short cuttings, at least two nodes should be left above ground. The portions above ground should be tied to the support until the aerial roots have obtained a firm grasp. Cuttings are usually planted in situ, but they can be started in nursery beds when necessary. Because of their succulent nature, cuttings can be stored or transported for periods of up to two weeks if required.
The vines of vanilla require some form of support up which to climb, and also light shade; too dense shade and full sunlight are both deleterious. The ideal tree should be quick-growing, providing light, checkered shade; have sufficient low branches providing easy access to the vanilla; be strong enough to support the vines in strong winds; and be easily pruned when necessary. It is an advantage if it can be planted from large cuttings and it may be possible that it can provide an economic product as well as the vanilla.
The trees most commonly used in the cultivation are the physic nut,Glyricidia, Jatrpopha curcas L, which can be propagated from cuttings or grows rapidly from seeds, and Casuarina equiserifolia L.
In the early stage, lateral shade may be provided by bananas or maize. Windbreaks should be planted where necessary. If vanilla is grown up posts or trellises, it will also be necessary to supply some form of partial shade. The woodwork is subject to decay and damage by termites, necessitating its replacement at regular intervals.
In cultivation, supports are generally planted from September to November after cleaning the land.
HARVESTING AND YIELDS
The time between flowering and harvesting is 6 – 9 months. The pods are harvested rotationally when they are fully grown and as they begin to ripen, as shown by the tips becoming yellow. It is essential to pick to pods at the right stage as immature pods produce and inferior product and if picked too late they will split during curing.
The plantations should be visited daily so that the pods can be picked as soon as they are ready. They may be harvested by sideways pressure of the thumb at the base or by cutting with a sharp knife. About 5 kg of green pods produce 1 kg of cured beans. Curing should begin within a week of harvesting the beans. This process is discussed in detail in the “Processing and Manufacture” section.
After fruiting, the old stems and weak branches are pruned off. The tree supports or shade should be pruned to provide 30 – 50 percent of full sunlight and to induce branches at the correct height for training the vines. In some countries it is customary for the owners to prick distinguishing marks on the green pods on the vines to ensure against theft.
Yields are very variable. A good vanillery is said to yield about 500 – 800 kilograms of cured beans per acre per annum during a crop life is about 7 years.
We offer vanilla planifolia variety of plants in sizes as below:
(1) Standard - 1ft vines- supplied bare & rooted.
(2)Medium - 2ft size vines - rooted and bare.
(3)Regular planting grade- 1 m vines - rooted and bare.
As an unique service to growers of vanilla planifolia around the world we have setup a huge nursery of quality production plants.We also offer tissue-cultured vanilla - as ex agar plants in 6 inches hardened plants.