In the Philippines, cashew is called kasoy or balubad in Tagalog or Balogo in Ilokano. It originated from north-eastern Brazil and was brought to the Philippines in the 17th Century. At present, cashew is cultivated in many tropical countries, the main producers are Brazil, India, Mozambique and Tanzania.
The cashew plant is an evergreen tree that grows up to 12 meters tall, with a dome-shaped crown or canopy bearing its foliage on the outside, where flowers and fruits are found.
The fruit has a kidney-shaped nut, about 3 cm x 1.2 cm attached to a much enlarged and swollen pedicel or receptacle forming the fruit-like cashew apple. The cashew apple is pear-shaped, 10-20 cm x 4-8 cm, shiny, red to yellow, soft, and juicy. The seed is kidney-shaped, with reddish-brown testa, two large white cotyledons, and a small embryo. The kernel remaining after the removal of the testa is the cashew nut of commerce.
Production – Cashew is a drought resistant crop. It can grow successfully in areas with a very distinct dry season or where the annual rainfall is as low as 50 cm. It can likewise grow well in areas with high levels of rainfall (as much as 350 cm an-nually) provided the soil is well-drained.
The Philippines produced 7,295 tons of cashew kernels in 1988. The production improved at an average of 22.73%. By the year 2000, production is expected to reach 16,000 tons.
Utilization – Nuts are roasted and eaten. At present, the only commercial scale use for the cashew apple is for livestock feed. However, the cashew apple is now being processed into juice, candy, wine, jam, etc. but only to a certain extent since the market for these end products is still in the development stage.
Cost of Return – The establishment cost per hectare of cashew plantation is P37,186 for five years operation. It has a five-year gestation period. Plant start giving commercial yields after five years.
Supply and Demand – It is projected that in 1996 the supply of cashew would reach 12,961 MT which is still lower than the demand which is going to be 26,995.
The Philippine exported 1,225 tons of cashew in 1989. Average growth from 1984 was 29.43%. The Philippines’ main market is China which is processor rather than a producer.
Practically all Philippine exports go to China. China has minimal production of cashew because of its generally cool weather. It processes and re-exports cashew. The Philippines exports cashew in its raw form (with shell still intact) since it lacks the proper technology to process cashew into its edible form.
Present exports to China amount to a little over a thousand tons, for export as long as the quality is acceptable.
Nursery Site – The nursery site should be well-drained and exposed to sunlight. It should have a good source of irrigation water for the maintenance of the plant materials. It should be protected against stray animals.
Nut Selection – Nuts for planting should be obtained from mother trees of known performance. They should be fully matured and of high density (heavy) grade to ensure good ger-mination and vigorous seedlings.
Seeds are water tested; those that sink are chosen since they have higher viability and germinate quickly.
Sowing the Seeds – Cashew seeds expire easily. Dry and newly collected seeds must be sown/propagated as soon as pos-sible to prevent loss in viability. They are sown on individual poly-ethylene bags containing an equal mixture of fine sand and organic matter.
Seeds are sown 5-10 cm deep with stalk end facing upward in slanting position. This prevents the emerging cotyledons at the soil surface from being destroyed by rats, ants, snails, and birds.
Care of Seedlings – Seeds will germinate within 1 to 2 weeks after sowing. Excessive watering should be avoided. If seedlings are week and stunted, urea solution at the rate of 10 tbsp per gallon of water should be applied.
The seedlings must be properly taken care of until they are ready for field planting or for use in asex-ual propagation (grafting). Seedlings are ready for field planting when they have attained a height of 20-50 cm.
Cashew can be propagated sexually or asexually. Asexual propagation can be done through airlayering, inarching, marcotting or grafting. Grafting is the best method for large-scale asexual propagation of cashew.
With cleft grafting, the seedlings are cut in traverse section (crosswise) and the remaining stem is cut longitudinally (lengthwise). The scion from a selected mother tree cut into the shape of a wedge is put between the two separated parts of the stem of the seedling, and the seedling and the scion are then wrapped with a plastic ribbon.
Up to 100% success has been obtained with 10-week old seedlings. In Palawan, plant propagators can get an average of 95% success in cleft grafting.
The use of young seedlings of about two months old result in more rapid takes, and the plants are ready to be planted at the age of 3 1/2 months.
Sexual propagation is done by sowing the seeds directly on individual polyethylene bags. It should be done during the dry season so that the seedlings could be planted in the field at the start of the rainy season.