Neem trees provide safe no-cost control of many insects, part 3: Make neem leaf spray at any time



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Throughout the year, neem trees have green leaves which make a good spray for dealing with insect pests. While a more effective spray can be made from neem seeds, they are only available once a year when the trees bear fruit. Farmers who do not dry and store neem seeds can make neem leaf spray at any time. Two methods of preparing leaf spray are described.

Information on this subject area was requested by DCFRN participants in 40 developing countries.

Presenter: George Atkins

Interviewee: G. Venkataramani (“Venkat”), Agricultural Correspondent, The Hindu, Madras, India.

Special note

Before using this information, please read the notes at the beginning and end of item 4 in this package about this and related DCFRN items.

Not long ago, you heard how you can control many crop pests using a no-cost spray made from seeds of the neem tree. You also heard that you have to start preparing the spray on the day before you use it.

Of course, you can only get fresh neem seeds at the time of the year when fruit comes on the neem trees. That’s the time of year you have to dry the seeds. When drying neem seeds, some farmers dry a lot more than they need right away, and they store them in a dry place. They do this so they’ll have dry neem seeds to use whenever they need to spray their crops. But what can you do if you want to spray your crops, and you don’t have any dry neem seeds stored like this?

You can use another part of the neem tree, the leaves! As you know, there are always green leaves on the neem tree, so you can pick them off the tree whenever you need them. Spray made from neem leaves isn’t quite as good as the kind you make from seeds, so you may need to use a little more leaf spray than seed spray. But many farmers find that they can control pests very well with neem leaf spray.

In Madras, in India, farm reporter G. “Venkat” Venkataramani of The Hindu newspaper tells how farmers he knows make neem leaf spray. He says that for every five litres (gallon) of spray you prepare, you’ll need about one kilogram (two pounds) of fresh neem leaves.

To make your spray, put the leaves into a pot and cover them with water. Then boil the mixture until the green colour is gone from the leaves.

Boil it ’til the green leaves turn golden yellow or straw-coloured. By then, the good part of the leaves that affects the insects has gone into the water. Next, let the water cool and take out the leaves.

You now have your basic neem leaf spray. You can then dilute it with water and spray it on the crop.

If firewood for boiling the water is scarce, Venkat told me that you can use cold water, but in that case, you should pound or crush the neem leaves first.

DCFRN participant, Augustine Aborah. works with farmers in Ghana in West Africa. He tells us that you can half fill a bucket with well-pounded neem leaves, and then add water to the top of the bucket. Let the leaves soak overnight, then remove them and squeeze the liquid out of them. If necessary, filter the solution. Then spray as usual. Augustine says this spray isn’t as strong as spray made from neem seeds, but it’s easy to prepare.

Venkat says that if the neem leaf spray you make by boiling one kilogram (two pounds) of leaves in five litres (one gallon) of water is not strong enough, boil up two kilograms (four pounds) of leaves in five litres (one gallon) of water. And finally he told me:

This is ideal for small garden areas. And also in fields it has been found effective.

Thank you very much, “Venkat” Venkataramani here in Madras in India. Serving Agriculture, the Basic Industry, this is George Atkins.




1. This item is the third of four items on neem in this package. It may either be used alone or in the proper sequence together with the other items as part of a series.

2. For other notes that apply to this and the other three items on neem, see Item 4 in this package.

Information sources

See item 4 in this package.