Medicinal Plants

Winter cherry(Ashwa Gandha) : Withania somnifera


  • Ashwagandha, is an errect, evergreen , tomentose, annual, drought resistant, medicinal shrub growing to a height of 30 - 150 cm.
  • The roots, leaves, fruits and seeds contain a number of alkaloids and are widely used in Ayurveda, Unani, Siddha and Allopathy systems of medicine to cure a number of disease.
  • The plant grows wild in many parts of India and is cultivated mainly for its roots in parts of Madhya Pradesh. The therapeutic value of cultivated plants is reported to be better than the wild plants.
  • The plant can be grown as an irrigated crop in Andhra Pradesh in a wide variety of soils including poor and marginal soils having a PH of 7.5 to 8.0.


  • Jawahar - 20 is a widely cultivated variety.


  • The crop is propagated through seeds. Rainfed crop is directly sown (12 kg seeds / hectare) while irrigated crop is transplanted (5 kg seeds / hectare). The seeds are sown in the nursery beds in 8 - 10 cm rows in the month of June and are regularly irrigated.
  • The seedlings are ready for transplanting in about 6 weeks.


  • The field is ploughed twice, harrowed and planked. 5 - 10 tonnes of farm yard manure, 250 kg of single superphosphate, 50 kg of muriate of potash and 25 - 50 kg of zinc sulphate per hectare are applied basally.
  • Sowing / planting is done during rainy season. Rainfed crop is directly sown in rows 60 cm apart and the crop is thinned 4 weeks after sowing to give 60 cm spacing between plants.
  • Irrigated crop is interplanted with 8 week old seedlings with a spacing of 60 cm between rows and 60 cm between plants and isimmediately irrigated, Until establishment, the field is irrigated frequently, thereafter, at 15 - 20 day intervals. The crop can withstand dry periods.

Interculture - Fertilizers

  • First weeding is done within 4 weeks of sowing / transplanting thereafter 2 - 3 weedings / hoeings are done to keep the field weed free.
  • The crop is fertilized with 85 - 130 kg urea per hectare, 50 % of which is applied at the time of sowing / transplating and rest in two equal splits 4 - 6 weeks and 12 weeks after planting.
  • Spraying of micronutrients and growth regulators is advocated for good yield.

Pests and Diseases

  • There are no major pests or diseases on the crop. Seed treatment with Captan (3 g/kg of seed) and spraying the 30 days old crop with Dithiocarbamate (0.03%) is suggested to prevent seed rotting, seedling blight and leaf blight diseases.

Harvesting - Profits

  • The crop is harvested when the leaves and berries start drying up (6 - 8 months after sowing / planting).
  • Harvesting is generally donw in the months of Janurary to March. The entire plant is pulled out and the roots are separated by cutting the stem 1 - 2 cm above the crown.
  • The roots are then cleaned of adhering soil, cut into pieces of 7- 10 cm, dried in sun and stored. The dried berries are collected and threshed for seeds for the next crop.
  • The crop gives average yield of 700 - 1000 kg of dried roots and a net profit of Rs. 20000 - 30000 per hectare. Higher yields and profits are possible under good manaement, ideal climatic conditions and a better price for the roots.
  • There is no organised market in Andhra Pradesh, therefore, farmers are advised to make market arrangements before starting cultivation.