Moringa is basically a tropical crop. It grows best between 25 to 350C, but will survive upto 480C. The drought-tolerant tree grows well in areas receiving annual rainfall amounts that range from 250 to 1500 mm. Altitudes below 600 m are best for Moringa, but this adaptable tree can grow in altitudes up to 1200 m in the tropics. Moringa prefers a well drained sandy loam or loamy soils. It does not tolerate prolonged flooding or poorly drained clay soils. In fact clay soils must be clearly avoided when selecting plots for Moringa cultivation. It will tolerate a soil pH of 5.0–9.0.
In high density cropping systems, the need to start with a very fertile soil is crucial. Large amounts of compost, well decomposed manure or mineral fertilizers will still be needed per hectare per year to maintain productivity at an appreciably high level. A systematic evaluation of the fertilizer requirement research is also needed.
Sulphur containing foliar fertilizers is recommended especially when it is easily available as it appears to increase protein contents of the leaves harvested. However, it must be applied when there are enough leaves on the plant to allow for easy assimilation of nutrients into the plant. By allowing enough time after the application before harvesting will give the plant enough time to utilize nutrients as well as avoid chemical residues that might still remain in the leaves. Grass or plastic mulching is equally possible, which facilitates soil moisture conservation.
In High Density monocropping direct seeding is preferred. This is possible only when there are plenty of seeds available and labour is limited. Seeds soaked in water overnight and properly sowed at 2cm dept should germinate in 9-10 days. With seed treatment of thiram or capton 2gm / 1 kg seeds treating the seeds they will l germinate well but in 14 days. Germination percentage is normally within the range of 70- 80.
2’ x 2’ spacing gives a plant population or seed rate of 10,800 Nos of Plants / acre High density monocropping of Moringa gives the highest leaves yields per unit area.
The newly established field should be allowed enough time to develop strong roots that are capable of absorbing the shocks of in initial cutting before the first harvest is done. This demands that the plants are allowed a minimum of 60 days. Subsequent harvests can be done every 35-40 days intervals.
After seeding must be irrigated immediately after planting to promote early root development. In dry and arid climates, irrigate regularly for the first two months. The well-rooted tree tolerates drought and needs irrigation only when persistent wilting is evident. Irrigate regularly to keep the soil moist but not wet. Intensively cultivated plants will demand more regular watering and fertilization. Mulching with grass can also be done to conserve moisture.
Cultivate the soil thoroughly before planting to suppress early weed growth. Maintain a weed-free planting by regularly cultivating between beds and rows. In high density or intensive production early weed control is critical and after that, weed control does not pose any serious treat to production. Moringa is resistant to most pests and diseases, but outbreaks may occur under high density cultivation conditions. Mite populations can increase during dry and cool weather. These pests create yellowing of leaves, but plants usually recover during warm weather. Other insect pests include termites, aphids, leaf miners, white flies, and caterpillars. Using neem seed preparation as foliar spray or commercial preparations containing Azadirachtin easily controls this problem. Chemical control of insect pests should be used only when severe infestations occur. Choose a pesticide that targets the specific pest causing the damage, and avoid pesticides that kill or inhibit the development of beneficial organisms. Choose pesticides that last only a few days. After spraying with pesticide the next leaf harvest should be delayed to avoid pesticide residual effect on leaves harvested.
Leaves from high density Moringa fields can be harvested after plants grow 1.5–2.0 m, which usually takes at least 60 – 90 days in well drained fertile soils. Harvest leaves by cutting leaf stems manually with a sharp knife at 30- 45 cm above ground. Harvesting in this manner will promote the development of newshoots. Subsequent harvesting can be done every 35 - 40 days.The initial cutting can be done manually at 20cm up to 1.5m height.