Horticulture Crops: Cultivating the Future of Agriculture

Published on:
December 11, 2023

When you think about investing in managed farmland, what often comes to mind? Rows of corn or wheat, perhaps? While these traditional crops have their merits, there's a hidden gem in the world of agriculture that you shouldn't overlook – horticulture crops. Horticulture crops are a vital component of sustainable farming, offering not only delicious rewards but also incredible value for investors in managed farmlands.

In this article, we'll explore why horticulture crops are a game-changer in agriculture and how they can significantly impact your investment in managed farmland. But before that let’s take a look at what horticulture crops are, diseases of the field, and horticulture crops and their importance.

What Are Horticulture Crops?

Horticulture, as defined in the world of gardening and farming, is the practice of scientifically producing, cultivating, selling, and using high-value, closely tended crops in an environmentally friendly and long-lasting way.

Horticulture, a field of plant agriculture focused on garden crops like fruits, veggies, and decorative plants, gets its name from the Latin words for "garden" and "cultivate." In simple terms, it involves various aspects of garden care, but typically, it's associated with commercial farming. Horticulture falls somewhere between backyard gardening and large-scale agriculture, but all types of cultivation share common connections.

Remember: Horticulture sets itself apart from agriculture by not dealing with extensive crop farming or raising animals. Instead, horticulture revolves around cultivating various crops on smaller plots, while agriculture centres on growing a single major crop at a time.

9 Types Of Horticulture

Horticulture can be split into two main branches: one focuses on growing plants for food, like fruits and vegetables (known as pomology and olericulture), while the other centers on plants for decoration (referred to as floriculture and landscape horticulture).

  1. Pomology: Pomology is all about fruit and nut crops, while olericulture deals with kitchen herbs like carrots, asparagus, lettuce, cauliflower, tomatoes, and peas.
  1. Olericulture: Olericulture is the science of growing vegetables, focusing on non-woody edible plants like spinach and collards that fall into the group known as "potherbs and greens."
  1. Floriculture: Floriculture specializes in producing flowers and decorative plants, such as cut flowers and potted plants.
  1. Landscape Horticulture: Landscape horticulture is a broad field that includes plants for landscaping, like lawn turf, as well as nursery crops like shrubs, trees, and vines.

Here are some other types of horticulture:

  1. Arboriculture: Arboriculture is mainly about arborists looking after woody plants for the long term in places like gardens, parks, or populated areas, aiming to enhance the environment for people's enjoyment, safety, and overall well-being.
  1. Turf Management: Turf management involves all the efforts put into growing and taking care of grass specifically for sports, entertainment, and beautification purposes.
  1. Viticulture: Viticulture is a specialised field within horticulture focused on growing and gathering grapes. This involves various tasks such as overseeing pest control, disease prevention, fertilisation, watering, tending to the vines' growth, assessing fruit quality, deciding when to harvest, and pruning the vines in winter.
  1. Oenology: Oenology is a specific horticultural field that focuses on the study of wine and the art of making it.
  1. Post-harvest physiology: Post-harvest physiology is all about how plant tissues behave after they've been harvested. This helps in figuring out the best ways to keep the plants fresh and prevent them from going bad by finding the right storage and transport conditions.

Importance Of Horticulture

Horticulture has improved the financial well-being of farmers by boosting the average intake of fruits from 40 to 85 grams and vegetables from 95 to 175 grams per person in a year. The importance of horticulture lies in the fact that it has been instrumental in advancing women's empowerment through job opportunities in activities like growing mushrooms, cultivating flowers, and producing vegetable seeds, among other things.

Moreover, horticulture crops make up over 24.5% of agriculture's GDP, despite occupying only 8.5% of the entire region. India's fertile lands nurture a diverse range of fruits and veggies, both tropical and temperate. Across approximately 4 million hectares, you'll find a cornucopia of over fifty vegetable varieties, with star crops like potatoes, onions, peas, cauliflower, tomatoes, eggplants, okra, cabbage, and cucurbits thriving in the mix.

Horticultural science is a unique field that combines the study of plants with their aesthetics. Horticulture is practical; it helps enhance plant growth, marketing, and overall quality of life for both people and animals. It plays a consistent role as the best-managed farmland practice by delivering nutritious produce, adding beauty to our surroundings, and promoting recreational activities.

Disease Of Field And Horticultural Crops And Their Management

Disease in the field and their management is mainly based on the use of chemical compounds like bactericides, fungicides, and insecticides which are toxic to causative agents, phytopathogens, or vectors of plant diseases. Proper disease management is essential to minimise these impacts. Here's an overview of common diseases of the field and horticultural crops and their management strategies:

Fungal Diseases
Disease Name Symptoms Hosts
Powdery Mildew White, powdery spots or patches on leaves, stems, and flowers Many plant species, including roses, cucumbers, and grapes
Downy Mildew Yellow lesions on the upper surface of leaves with greyish-blue fungal growth on the underside Various vegetables, such as cucurbits and grapes
Rust Rust-coloured pustules or spots on leaves, stems, and sometimes fruit Crops like wheat, beans, and roses
Botrytis Blight (Gray Mould) Brown to grey, fuzzy mould on plant tissues, including flowers and fruits Many ornamental and fruit-bearing plants
Anthracnose Dark, sunken lesions on leaves, stems, and fruits Trees (e.g., mango, avocado), vegetables (e.g., beans, peppers), and fruits (e.g., strawberries)

Bacterial Diseases
Disease Name Symptoms Hosts
Bacterial Leaf Spot small, water-soaked lesions on leaves, which later turn brown or black wide range of plants, including tomatoes, peppers, and lettuce
Bacterial Blight water-soaked lesions that can quickly spread and cause wilting and death of plant parts Crops like beans, rice, and cotton
Fire Blight wilting, blackening, and a scorched appearance of leaves, stems, and fruit fruit trees, particularly apple and pear trees
Bacterial Canker sunken lesions on the stems and branches of trees, often with ooze or gumming plants like stone fruits and citrus trees

Viral Diseases
Disease Name Symptoms Hosts
Tobacco Mosaic Virus (TMV) Mottled or mosaic-like yellow and green patterns on leaves, stunted growth, and distortion of leaves Tobacco, tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers, and many other solanaceous plants
Potato Virus Y (PVY) Mottling, leaf curling, yellowing of leaves, and necrotic ring spots on tubers Potatoes, tomatoes, peppers, and other solanaceous crops
Tomato Yellow Leaf Curl Virus (TYLCV) Yellowing and upward curling of leaves, stunted growth, and reduced fruit production Tomatoes, peppers, and other nightshade family plants
Cucumber Mosaic Virus (CMV) Mottled or mosaic patterns on leaves, leaf distortion, and reduced fruit quality Cucumbers, tomatoes, peppers, and various other vegetable and ornamental plants
Bean Common Mosaic Virus (BCMV) Mottled or mosaic-like patterns on leaves, curling, and reduced bean yields Various bean varieties
Citrus Tristeza Virus (CTV) Yellowing, stunting, and leaf cupping in citrus trees, often leading to tree decline and death Citrus trees, including oranges, lemons, and grapefruits
Turnip Mosaic Virus (TuMV) Mottled or mosaic patterns on leaves, leaf distortion, and reduced growth in cruciferous plants Turnips, cabbage, mustard, and other cruciferous crops
Papaya Ringspot Virus (PRSV) Red Spots on leaves, mottling, and deformation of fruit Papaya and some cucurbit plants
Plum Pox Virus (PPV) Red Spots on leaves, fruit deformation, and reduced fruit quality in stone fruit trees Plum, peach, apricot, and other stone fruit trees
Barley Yellow Dwarf Virus (BYDV) Yellowing, stunting, and leaf curling in cereal crops Barley, wheat, oats, and other grasses

Nematode Infestations
Disease Name Symptoms Hosts
Reniform Nematodes (Rotylenchulus spp.) Stunted growth and poor plant vigour, yellowing and wilting of leaves, and the presence of reniform-shaped nematodes on roots Cotton, soybeans, and various other crops
Sting Nematodes (Belonolaimus spp.) Stunted growth and poor root development, yellowing and wilting of leaves, and the presence of nematodes with a long, needle-like structure (sting) on roots. turfgrass, cotton, and various fruit trees
Spiral Nematodes (Helicotylenchus spp.): Reduced root development. Stunted growth and poor plant vigour. Yellowing and wilting of leaves alfalfa, soybeans, and various vegetables
Dagger Nematodes (Xiphinema spp.) Stunted growth and poor root development. Yellowing and wilting of leaves. The presence of nematodes with long, pointed heads on root surfaces Affects fruit trees, grapevines, and various ornamental plants
Lesion Nematodes (Pratylenchus spp.) Brown, necrotic lesions on roots. Stunted growth and reduced yields. Yellowing and wilting of leaves Attack a wide range of plants, including corn, potatoes, wheat, and cotton.
Cyst Nematodes (Heterodera and Globodera spp.) Stunted growth and poor plant vigour. Yellowing and wilting of leaves. Reduced root development. The presence of tiny, lemon-shaped cysts on the roots soybeans, wheat, sugar beets, and many other grasses and legumes
Root-Knot Nematodes (Meloidogyne spp.) Stunted growth of the plant. Yellowing (chlorosis) and wilting of leaves. Swollen, galled, and deformed roots with knots or nodules. Reduced fruit or vegetable production. tomatoes, potatoes, carrots, beans, and strawberries

Management strategies for the diseases of the field and horticultural crops:

  1. Crop Rotation: Rotate crops to disrupt disease cycles. Planting different crops in succession can reduce the buildup of specific pathogens in the soil.
  2. Resistant Varieties: Use disease-resistant crop varieties whenever possible. Plant breeding programs have developed resistant strains for many common diseases.
  3. Hygiene: Practise good field and garden hygiene by removing and destroying infected plant debris. This prevents the overwintering of pathogens.
  4. Proper Irrigation: Avoid over-irrigation, as excessive moisture can promote fungal diseases. Use drip irrigation to keep foliage dry.
  5. Fungicides and Pesticides: Apply appropriate fungicides and pesticides when necessary. Follow recommended application rates and schedules.
  6. Biological Control: Use beneficial organisms like predatory insects or nematodes to control pest populations.
  7. Sanitation: Keep tools, equipment, and hands clean to prevent the spread of pathogens.
  8. Quarantine Measures: Inspect and isolate new plants to prevent introducing diseases into your garden or field.
  9. Pruning and Thinning: Prune infected plant parts and thin overcrowded plantings to improve air circulation and reduce disease pressure.
  10. Soil Management: Improve soil health through organic matter addition and proper pH adjustment to promote plant vigour.
  11. Early Detection: Regularly scout for disease symptoms and take prompt action if detected. Early intervention is often more effective.
  12. Weather Monitoring: Be aware of weather conditions that favour disease development, such as high humidity or prolonged rainfall.
  13. Education: Stay informed about the specific diseases affecting your crops and the most up-to-date management practices.

The Bottom Line

As managed farmlands are evolving, horticulture crops are at the forefront of this transformation. Beyond their delectable produce, these crops offer investors a chance to diversify their portfolios, tap into high-value markets, and enjoy a sustainable stream of income. Horticulture crops not only provide the joy of nurturing and harvesting but also the promise of financial growth. So, when you consider investing in managed farmland, remember to read about what horticulture crops are, their importance, and other details mentioned in this article. They're not just plants; they're a gateway to a fruitful and prosperous investment journey.

Horticulture Crops FAQs

1. What are horticulture crops in India?

India's varied climate provides the perfect conditions for cultivating a wide variety of horticultural products, including fruits, vegetables, spices, root tubers, ornamental and aromatic plants, medicinal herbs, as well as plantation crops like coconut, arecanut, cashew, and cocoa.

2. What is the main crop of horticulture?

In India, the most abundant vegetable crop is potatoes, with tomatoes coming in second. When it comes to the land area used for growing vegetables, potatoes take the top spot. Coconut reigns as the country's primary plantation crop, while chilli peppers lead the way as the most-produced spice crop in India.

3. What is India's rank in horticulture?

India comes in as the world's second-largest producer of fruits and vegetables, following China. According to the National Horticulture Database's latest data (3rd Advance Estimates) from 2021-22, India managed to yield an impressive 107.24 million metric tonnes of fruits and a whopping 204.84 million metric tonnes of vegetables.

4. Is India the largest producer of horticulture?

According to the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations, India ranked as the world's second-largest producer of both fruits and vegetables in 2019.

5. What is the future of horticulture in India?

Based on forecasts, the land used for horticulture is expected to expand by 2.7% in the fiscal year 2021 compared to the previous fiscal year (FY20). It's also estimated that horticulture production will rise by 5.8 million metric tons in FY21 compared to FY20. Additionally, the agriculture ministry has selected 10 native fruit crops and 10 popular fruit varieties for special attention, as they are widely enjoyed.

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