AGRICULTURE AND IRRIGATION

OIL SEEDS

Ground-nut, safflower, sesamum and linseed are the important oil-seeds grown in the district. Table No. 13 gives the taluka-wise area under oil-seeds from 1961-62 to 1971-72 in Sholapur district. Table No. 14 gives the taluka-wise out-turn of oil-seeds from 1961-62 to 1971-72.

Ground-nut: Ground-nut (bhuimug) is grown both as a dry crop and as an irrigated crop. It is mostly grown as dry crop throughout the Sholapur district and covered an area of 39,263 hectares during 1971-72. It can be grown on light sandy soil, red loam, alluvial loam and also on black soil. Fields are ploughed several times and are also harrowed to get a good seed-bed for sowing. The ploughing is done to a depth of about six inches after the first rains. The crop is sown in rows. The seeds are sown either by hand or with four-coultered drill in June-July. After sowing, the land is levelled to cover the seed. Before or during the sowing a dressing of farm-yard manure or artificial manure is applied. In about two months the crop is inter-cultured with a hoe. One or two hand-weedings are also done. The flowering starts after about two months and in about four months the crop is ready for harvest. Harvesting is done by pulling the plants up by roots. Sometimes a plough is used but often a light pick is employed. The pods are generally pulled out by hand and then dried in the Sun. The varieties that are grown in the district are Faizpur-1-5, Spanish improved, Kopargaon-3, Karad-4-11 and other local varieties. Generally ground-nut crop is cultivated for oil, but it is used in a variety of other ways. The seeds arc eaten raw, boiled or parched. The leaves and branches are used as fodder. The hay is very nutritious and is known to increase the milk-yield of cattle. The cake is a very highly concentrated nitrogenous food, and if used in moderate quantities is excellent for milch cattle. It is also used as a manure for sugarcane.

Safflower: Safflower (karadi) is grown next to ground-nut among the oil-seeds in the district. It occupied an area of 67,095 hectares in 1971-72. The plant bears yellow flowers and thorny leaves. It is mainly a rabi crop and is sown in October-November. It is grown both as a rain-fed as well as an irrigated crop. The crop is grown on loam and black cotton soils as well as on light alluvial soils. Usually it is grown mixed with wheat and gram only in every fourth or eighth row of the main crop. Sometimes it is sown as a border crop to surround the main crops to protect it from stray cattle. The preparations are the same as the ones given to the crops along with which it is sown. When it is sown independently the land is ploughed twice and is harrowed once to give a fine tilth to the land. Sowing is done through three-coultered seed drill. Two inter-culturings are given after the crop comes up. After two months of sowing the tops of the plants are cut off to encourage branching. The crop is ripe in about four months and is harvested in March-April. The whole plants are pulled out and stacked for a few days. After drying, the seeds are threshed by beating with sticks. The variety that is grown in the district is N-62-8. Karadi oil is extracted either in oil mills or in telghanis and is used in cooking. The oil-cake is used as a cattle-feed and manure. The stalks of this plant have no value but the young leaves are sometimes boiled and eaten as vegetable. The seeds are also eaten after frying.

Sesamum: Sesamum (til) is grown all over the district. It occupied an area of 10,661 acres in 1967-68. It is grown as a rain-fed crop and requires hot weather and low rain-fall. It is a kharif as well as a rabi crop. It is grown on a variety of soils. Usually it is grown as a mixed crop. The seeds are mixed with the main crop and are sown through seed drill. When it is sown as a sole crop, the field is brought to a fine tilth by ploughing and harrowing it well in advance. Then the seeds are drilled about 1 to 1 inches apart in rows. As the seeds are small they are mixed with ash or manure before sowing to secure even distribution. The crop is thinned out and hoed twice. Hand-weeding is also done. When the leaves become yellow the crop is said to be ripe. When ripe, the plants are cut within 2-3 inches of the soil, tied in bundles and allowed to dry. The seed capsules split open and the seeds are extracted by beating the plants. Sesamum takes about 3 to 4 months to ripen. Oil is extracted from the seed which is eaten raw and also used in preparing sweetmeats. The oilcake is used as a good cattle-feed and also consumed by the poor people for preparing vegetables.

Linseed: Linseed (alsi) is grown throughout the district and occupied an area of 4,936 acres during the year 1967-68. It is grown on black cotton soils as well as on light alluvial soils and requires low rain-fall. It is grown in rabi season as a single crop. It is sown in September-October and harvested in February. The field is prepared by one or two harrowings and ploughings by the end of September. Sowing is done in the month of October by seed drills in rows. Inter-culturing and hand-weedings is also done. The crop ripens and is ready for harvest by February. The plants are uprooted when the capsules are just ripe and begin to open. They are brought to the threshing floor and stacked for drying when most of the capsules are open. They are then spread out and beaten with sticks to thresh out the seed completely. The department of agriculture has evolved the Sholapur-36 improved strain of linseed for the district Many a cultivator use linseed oil for cooking. Linseed-cake is a good manure and also a good food for milch cattle.

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