Sisal Information System

Sisal is a xerophytic, monocarp, semi-perennial leaf fibre producing plant.

Introduction of Sisal

Sisal is a xerophytic, monocarp, semi-perennial leaf fibre producing plant. The plant has short stem bears rosette of leaves that are sessile, linear lanceolate attains a length of 1-1.5 m or more. leaves are thick, fleshy and often covered with waxy layer.

life span of this crop is generally 10-12 years having the leaf of 1-1.2 m length and 10-16 cm width at maturity with fibre from 2-5% of green leaves. It contains typical characteristics of xerophytic plants. Planting materials should not be kept in heaps.

A healthy sisal plant produce about 200-250 leaves during its 10-12 years life span, it produces a long flowering axis called ‘pole’. As water is valuable input in arid and semi-arid regions, so drip irrigation and sisal composting gave encouraging results.

Sisal is well adapted in arid and semi-arid regions in India, mainly in Odisha, Jharkhand, Maharashtra, part of Bihar, western part of West Bengal and many southern states where the annual rainfall varies from 60-125 cm with temperature 40-45°C.

Planting material

Mature plants with pole

Growth of sisal plant is terminated with the emergence of flowering stalk known as ‘pole’. Fruits are seldom formed as flower shrivel and fall owing to the formation of an abscission layer at the top of the pedicel and therefore, setting of seeds is not common.

Sisal bulbils

Bulbils develop from tiny buds present on each flower stalk. It is a plantlet consisting of a meristem, 4-7 reduced leaves and rudimentary adventitious roots. A pole of a sisal plant may produce 400-800 or more bulbils. These bulbils develop and attain a size of 4-5 cm when they are collected during mid February to mid April and raised in nurseries.

Sisal suckers

The underground adventitious shoots that develop from the roots receive favourable condition, often come up at some distance from the parent plant above the soil surface and develop into small plants known as ‘suckers’.

Sisal suckers

Sisal is mainly propagated by vegetative means such as ‘bulbils’ and ‘suckers’. A sucker suitable for planting in the mainfield should be greater than 30 cm length, atleast 250 g weigh, has 4-5 leaves and free from any disease and/or stress.

Nursery Management



Land preparation

Being a xerophytic and hardy crop, lands available for sisal cultivation are often sloppy, eroded and most of them are without any vegetation cover. So, it is not advisable to plough-open the whole area encouraging further erosion. Pit planting is recommended for such land situation.


Size of pits

Pit size of 1 ft3 is preferred for getting fast and uniform growth of sisal plants. Pits are dug during summer months and filled up with soil-organic matter mixture. Soil ameliorants may be used in the pits to rectify pH.


Planting method

Two methods of planting are followed. Single row planting method is conventionally practiced and is less profitable. Whereas, double row planting method has several merits including checking soil erosion, accommodates more plants/ha and gives higher yield. Rows are made across the soil slops.



Plant density depends on nature and fertility status of soil, type of farming, investment and management capacity of the grower. The following spacings are suitable: 3 m + 1 m × 1 m (5000 plants/ha) and 3.5m + 1m x 1m spacing, which accommodates 4,400 plants per ha.


Time of Planting

Planting should be taken up with the onset of monsoon i.e., June to first fortnight of July, so that plants get sufficient time to establish well during the favourable rainy season.


Fertilizer application

Application of fertilizers should be done according to the fertility status of the soils and resources at disposal. In general, sisal growing soils are poor in fertility with acidic pH range. N, P and K fertilizers @ 60:30:60 kg/ha/year and Sisal compost/Cow dung/FYM (Depending upon availability) @ 5-10 tonnes/ha is recommended for medium fertile, normal soil condition..

Sisal at a glance


Plant protection measures

Zebra disease

  • ...........


  • Zebra diseases of sisal are associated with three different species of Phytophthora, viz. P. nicotianae, P. aracae and P. palmivora. Dark black, water soaked lesions appear on the leaves.


  • The older leaves touching moist soil are more susceptible to infection. It appear as small lesions on the lamina, which rapidly enlarge into alternate concentric rings with light greenish yellow margin.


  • For both variety, Three foliar spray of Ridomil MZ-72
  • or
  • Indofil M-45 @ 2.5 g/L of water at 10 days interval is recommended to manage this disease.

Sisal Gallery



Sisal field


Primary nursery


Water soaked lesions

Zebra disease

Mature plants with pole

Sisal Field

Secondary nursery


Damage symptom

Zebra disease

Sisal plantation

Field view





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Central Research Institute for Jute & Allied Fibres, Indian Council of Agricultural Research, Barrackpore, Kolkata 700120, West Bengal (India)

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