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Introduction

The arecanut is the seed of the areca palm (Areca catechu), which grows in much of the tropical Pacific, Asia, and parts of east Africa. It is commonly referred to as betel nut, as it is often chewed wrapped in betel leaves. The areca nut is not a true nut, but rather a drupe. It is commercially available in dried, cured and fresh forms. While fresh, the husk is green and the nut inside is soft enough to be cut with a typical knife. In the ripe fruit, the husk becomes yellow or orange and, as it dries, the fruit inside hardens to a wood-like consistency. 

Varieties cultivated

Mangala, Sumangala, Subamangala, Mohitnagar, Srimangala, Samruthi (Andaman), Hirehalli dwarf, VTLAH 1, 2 and Thirthahalli dwarf.

Maturity Indices

The prehearing age of the palm ranges from 4-5 years. The plant is. monocipus, producing both male and female flowers on the same tree. The spadix of a grown up palm produces on an average 294 female flowers. The colour of the fruit during its growth changes from green to different shades of yellow and red during ripening. Nut matures after 8-9 months after fertilization! 4-5 spadix are produced by the palm per year.The stage at which nuts are to be harvested depends upon the type of nuts required for the market. Where tender processed nuts are required as finished product, the tender nuts are harvested from July to December. In places where "Chali" or "Gota" (Sub dried whole nut) is required fully ripe nuts are to be - harvested from December-March or from May to July. There are found plucking are done during the whole season.

Harvesting time

The bearing starts after 5 years of planting. Nuts are harvested when they are three quarters ripe. The number of harvests will vary from three to five in one year depending upon the season and place of cultivation. It can be harvested one nut at a time off the inflorescence. However, nuts are generally harvested in clusters which involve the removal of the entire inflorescence off the palm. When removing the entire inflorescence, it is best to ensure a clean separation of the inflorescence from the palm.Harvesting of the areca nut is done by skilled climbers who cover about 50 -100 palms in a day. Mechanical areca nut palm climbing device is available for easy climbing the palm by any unskilled persons. The stage of harvesting depends up on the type of product to be prepared.

Storage

Lack of proper drying yards, improper spreading and turning of nuts and exposure to unexpected rains during the drying period lead to microbial infection to the husk as well as kernel. Harvested nuts treated with copper oxychloride showed less infection. Polythene lined gunny bags can be used with advantage over plain gunny bags for storing the nuts. Steeping the nuts in boredeaux mixture followed by drying on cement floor reduces the percentage of infection significantly. Storage of areca nut in air tight bins also minimizes the fungal infection.

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