Shallot (Allium ascalonicum) is a type of season-y horticulture plant with high economic value. Although, sometimes production overflows, causing the sharp plummets of its price. The condition is made worse by government’s import policy. To avoid price fluctuation that inflicts loss on farmers, there needs to be effort to farm shallot outside of its seasons.
Shallot farming needs sun exposure for 12 hours a day. Shallot grows well on lowland at 0-900 m above sea level in 25-32 degree celcius temperature and pH 5.6-7 soil acidity.
Here’s the way to farm shallot as informed by farmers in Brebes, Central Java, one of the biggest shallot farming centers in Indonesia:
Seed varieties for shallot farming vary quite nicely. There are some local seeds and even hybrid imported seeds. Your seeds may be in the shape of actual seeds or tubers. Most farmers use tuber seeds.
Good shallot seeds come from tubers that are harvested when they’re old, more than 80 days old on lowland and 100 days old on highland. They also should have been stored for about 2-3 months. Their size should be about 1.5-2 cm, nicely shaped, dark red in color.
The amount of seeds you need depends on the variety of your shallot, seed size, and planting distance. For example, for planting distance 20×20 with 5 gram tuber seed size, you need about 1.4 tons of seeds per hectare. For the same weight but smaller planting distance (15×15), you need about 2.4 tons per hectare.
Soil processing and planting
Make soil into seedbeds with width 1-1.2 m, height 20-30 cm, and length as needed. Distance between seedbeds should be 50 cm, and they should be made into channels about 50 cm deep. Hack your seedbeds about 20 cm deep and harrow it. Make sure to make the top surface of your seedbeds flat, not mounded.
Add chalk or dolomite about 1-1.5 tons per hectare if your soil acidity is less than pH 5.6. Do this at least 2 weeks before planting.
Use 15-20 compost or manure fertilizer as basic fertilizer. Scatter it on the seedbeds then mix well with the soil. You can also add 47 kg of urea, 100 kg of ZA, 311 kg of SP-36, and 56 kg of KCL per hectare. Mix those synthetic fertilizers well before you apply them. Do this at least one week before planting.
Get your seeds ready. If your tuber seeds are less than two months old, cut off about 0.5 cm at the end of your tubers to break their dormant phase.
Planting distance for shallots in dry season should be 15×15 cm while in rainy season should be 20×20 cm. Plant your seeds by burying them in soil entirely.
Care and maintenance
Watering should be done twice a day, in the morning and in the evening until 10 days old. After that, watering can be lessen to once a day.
Follow-up fertilization is given after your crop is 2 weeks old. Mix together 93 kg of urea, 200 kg of ZA, and 112 kg of KCl per hectare. When your crop is 5 weeks old, mix together 47 kg or urea, 100 kg of ZA, and 56 kg of KCl per hectare. Fertilization is done by putting the mix in the channel next to the plants.
Weeding is usually done twice in one season. To be more cost-efficient, weeding is usually done at the same time for follow-up fertilization. Weeding can be done sooner if needed, though.
Pest and disease control
Shallot farming is vulnerable to a lot of pests and diseases. The most famous threats are from caterpillars and wilting disease.
Caterpillars (Spodoptera sp.) attack leaves, causing white specks on them. On a closer look, you can see little bites of caterpillars on them. Pest control is done by manually picking them off, including their eggs. You can also use the sex pheromone trap, about 40 pieces per hectare. If the attack increases with damage more than 5% per cluster, you can spray some insecticides with active ingredient chlorpyrifos.
Fusarium wilting disease is caused by fungus. You can see them by the yellowing and curled leaves and rotting stem base. Control this by pulling out infected plants then burn them. You can also spray fungicides on them.
If 60-70% of your shallot leaves have collapsed, then your shallot crop is ready for harvest. In case of tuber seeds, collapsed leaf rate should reach at least 90%.
They’re usually ready for harvest after 55-70 days since planting. Shallot productivity depends heavily on land condition, climate, weather, and variety. In Indonesia, shallot harvest productivity ranges from 3 to 12 tons per hectare with national average 9.47 tons per hectare.
Harvested shallot tubers must be dried first. Drying can happen in 7-14 days with turning over every 2-3 days. Dried shallot has 85% water in it and is ready to store or sell.