The cashew tree is a tropical evergreen that produces the cashew nut and the cashew apple. Officially classed as Anacardium occidentale, it can grow as high as 14 metres, but the dwarf cashew, growing up to 6 metres, has proved more profitable, with earlier maturity and higher yields. The cashew nut is served as a snack or used in recipes, like other nuts, although it is actually a seed. The cashew apple is a fruit, whose pulp can be processed into a sweet, astringent fruit drink or distilled into liqueur. The shell of the cashew nut yields derivatives that can be used in many applications from lubricants to paints, and other parts of the tree have traditionally been used for snake-bites and other folk-remedies.
The research programmes in the field of crop improvement have identified elite materials with yield potential ranging between 20-25 kg per tree. Several varieties have been released by the different co-ordinating centres of ICAR. All the Agricultural Universities and Research Centres have established bud wood bank with the released varieties of respective centres, for further multiplication and distribution. Some important varieties are :
BPP-1: High percentage of perfect flower, 13.2%, fruit set high, yield 17 kg (25 year old plant) per plant, shelling, 27.5% nuts of 5g average weight.
BPP-2: Yield 19 kg/tree (25 years), shelling 26%, nuts 4g average.
BPP-3, 4, 5: are also other good varieties.
Vengurla-1: Average yield 23 kg/plant at 28 year's age, nut weight 6g, shelling 31%.
Vengurla-2: Yield 24 kg/plant at 20 year's age, nut weight 4 g, shelling 32%.
Vengurla-3: Nut weight 9 g.
Vengurla- 4, 5, VRI-1, 2, Ullal-1, 2, Anakkayam-1, BLA 39-4, K-22-1, NDR 2-1.K-22-1 and NDR 2-1 are good export varieties.
The plant starts yielding 3rd year onwards. The peak picking months are March and May. Good nuts are grey green, smooth and well filled. The ripened will fall down and nuts from fallen fruits have to be collected.After picking, the nuts are separated from the apple and dried in the sun for two to three days to bring down the moisture content to 10 to 12 %.
Properly dried nuts are packed in alkathene bags. This will keep for 6 months.