Harvesting is labour-intensive and the crop is traditionally grown by smallholders in developing countries.
Cashew trees are large, attractive, evergreen trees with large leaves and pretty, small, purple flowers. The cashew tree produces delicious & nutritious cashew seed (nuts) and the cashew apple. The cashew apple, also called cashew fruit, is the fleshy, oval-shaped part of the cashew fruit that is attached to the cashew nut. The cashew apple is yellow, orange or red in colour, is high in Vitamin C, refreshing, juicy, and a bit acidic and actually a false fruit. The real fruit is the Cashew nut. This tree is planted for its nutritional value, for its medicinal applications, as an ornamental tree & for alcohol production.
Common problems with Cashew
Pests include stem borers and root borers including Plocaederus ferrugineus, tea mosquito, leaf miner, leaf and blossom webber, sucking bugs (Helopeltis schoutedeni and H. anacardii), the theraptus bug, thripts, bark borers and the defoliating caterpillar (Nudaurelia bellina). Diseases include die-back or pink disease, damping-off of seedlings (Phytophthora palmivora); anthracnose disease, leaf spots, shoot-rot and leaf fall.
How to propagate Cashew
Nuts germinate within 4 days when lying on wet soil. Germination time usually 4 days to 3 weeks.
Air-layering also sometimes used.
Special features of Cashew
Attracts useful insects
Attracts bees, flies, & ants.
Has been intercropped with cowpea, groundnuts and horsegram in India.
Once established it is drought tolerant, and a rain-free season is needed to ensure flowering and proper fruit set.
Wild birds and bats are attracted to cashew apples.
Repels harmful insects
One of the components of the bark gum acts as a vesicant and has insect repellent properties.
The cashew can be kept to a small size, and will fruit in a container.
Other uses of Cashew
Nutritional. Medicinal. Alcohol production
As treatment of syphilis, coughs, colds, stomach-aches, mental derangement, heart palpitation, rheumatism, blood sugar problems, kidney troubles, cholera, amongst other ailments.
The cashew apple and cashew nuts are roasted, salted, baked or used in salads. The flesh or juice are processed into jams, jellies, chutney, candied fruit, cashew wine, spirits and vinegar.