Growing Turmeric Techniques:
Introduction to Growing Turmeric: One of the most important spices used in Asian countries. Turmeric botanically called Curcuma longa belongs to the same family of ginger. Turmeric is a perennial herb that grows from the root of the turmeric plant.
Turmeric is different from other herbs where you harvest either the leaves or the seeds, but the roots instead. It is in use from dates back nearly 4000 years. It is used in Vedic culture in India and is a must present in all religious activities. Turmeric is used extensively in the Asian and Middle East as a condiment.
Turmeric is the most used medicine by every family member since ages. Turmeric contains bioactive compounds that make it useful as medicine. It has Anti-inflammatory properties and anti-oxidant properties. India is the highest producer of turmeric and it was in use as an ingredient in cooking since ages.
Conditions needed for growing Turmeric
Climate Requirement for Growing Turmeric
Turmeric is a tropical crop and needs a warm, humid climate for its growth. The ideal temperature for turmeric growth is between 20-35 ⁰C. If the temperature falls below 20°C, turmeric growth ceases. Better to start planting when the season is warm depending on the climatic conditions in the area. Average rainfall ranging 100 to 225 cm per annum is suitable for turmeric cultivation in India. Turmeric can be grown at an altitude of 1500 meters above sea level (mean sea level) or even at normal sea level. Turmeric can grow in diverse conditions either on rainfall or irrigated conditions.
Soil Requirement for Growing Turmeric
Turmeric grows under the soil. The rhizome of the turmeric plant needs typical conditions. Turmeric grows well in soil that contains some amount clay, sand and humus. On the other way loamy soil with proper drainage. Since the critical part grows under the soil, stagnant water can damage the growth. Soil should be rich in nutrients with adequate organic matter. Turmeric cannot withstand high acidic nature of the soil. Keep the soil less alkaline by checking pH levels regularly.
Water Requirement for Growing Turmeric
Turmeric needs good amount of water and average rainfall needed for the turmeric plants is around 150 cm. Turmeric can be grown by irrigation by supplying water through small water drains. Drip irrigation is also a wonderful option that saves water. While supplying water make sure that all excess water is drained immediately.
Sunlight requirement for Growing Turmeric
Turmeric grows well in warm conditions. Sunlight is our natural source of heat and allows enough sunlight to pass on to the planet. If the temperature rises above 35°C cool the area by sprinkling water. Even before planting turmeric seeds plough the field and expose it good sunlight as it kills harmful bacteria.
Preparing the soil for Growing Turmeric
Turmeric can be planted by forming ridges and furrows. Alternatively turmeric can be grown in soil beds. Beds must be prepared with around 15 cm height and 1-2m width. Place beds with a gap of 50 cm between them. When planting the rhizomes or turmeric, maintain space of 10 cm between two rhizomes. The beds must be placed 2 feet apart from each other.
If you are irrigating in large scale, we usually plough the soil into ridges and furrows. In both cases add hydrated lime to reduce acidity and organic matter to boost nutrients. Plough deeply for 2-3 times and make sure the soil is uniformly distributed with nutrients.
Picking right seeds or planting Material for Growing Turmeric
Turmeric seeds are nothing but the rhizomes from the previous harvest. Good rhizomes from previous crop are preserved and used as seeds in successive crops. The mother rhizome or seed can be sown in whole as one seed or split into two seeds with each having a complete bud. There are many varieties of seeds available in the market based on the types of soil they grow, Duration of the crop, Resistance to various diseases and the place of the production. There are some famous varieties developed by Indian scientists for commercial production. Some of the famous varieties are Suguna, Sugandham, Roma, Ranga, Pratibha, and Prabha. Duggirala, Krishna, Sudarshana, Tekurpeta, Sugandham, and Lakadong.
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Planting process for Growing Turmeric
The planting time for turmeric is typically after the pre-monsoon showers. Once the soil is made ready with proper treatment and ploughing, turmeric seeds are sown. The turmeric seeds are incubated by keeping them under moist straw and left for sprouting before sowing. Turmeric rhizomes are used as a whole or split into pieces. Seeds are placed on shallow location in the ploughed field of ridges and furrows. Small pits are made on the soil with a gap of 10 inches between them. Powdered neem and well decomposed manure or compost is applied in the pits prepared for sowing. Seed rhizomes are placed over it and covered with soil mixed with manure.Get ready with approximately, 2500 kg of rhizomes for planting in one hectare of land.
Fertilziers for Growig Turmeric
Organic composts or cow dung or some farmyard manure is mixed with soil and ploughed thoroughly before planting the seeds. In the planting stage, we add some good manure along with seeds. Fertilizers 60 kg of Nitrogen, 50 kg of Phosphorus pentoxide and 120 kg Potassium oxide per hectare are to be applied in in 2 doses one after 45 days and the second one after 90 days approximately. If the soil is acidic, sometimes we may need to add hydrated lime to the soil.
Plant Care in Growing Turmeric
Some regular practices like weeding and mulching must be performed on the crop. Weeding is to remove any extra plants or unwanted plants that are growing along with turmeric plants. The weeds can consume nutrients from soil and may spread some unwanted diseases. Removing weeds can be done one in a month or based on the situation. Mulching is a process of covering the soil with some leaves in order to preserve moist in the soil and it additionally adds some nutrients to the soil.
Insect pests and Diseases in Growing Turmeric
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You need to keep an eye to protect the turmeric plant from pests and diseases. Potash and Phosphorous mixing was used as dose in non-organic farming and it is applied at the time of seeding. After 4 months of planting nearly 130kg of nitrogen is applied again so as to protect the plant. Protecting the plants from diseases, pest and disease management is most important particularly in organic farming. There are the different approaches which we can follow for protecting the plant one is regular care has to be taken and also you need to understand the life cycle of pests and raiders
Diseases in Growing Turmeric:
Turmeric crop can be infected with some diseases. Here is the list of possible diseases and protection from them.
Leaf blotch: Leaf blotch appears as irregular brown spots on either side of the leaves and soon make the leaves yellow or dark brown. Slowly the growth of the rhizome is reduced and the plants will not grow. The disease can be controlled by timely spraying of mancozeb.
Rhizome rot: The collar region of the stem becomes soft, resulting in the collapse of the complete plant and decay of rhizomes. To prevent this disease, seed rhizomes are treated with mancozeb before storing them for the next crop. If the disease is noticed in the field, the soil should be drenched with mancozeb.
Leaf spot: Leaf spot appears similar to leaf blotch. It appears as brown spots off on the upper surface of the young leaves. The spots will be irregular in shape with gray in the center. Slowly the spots spread to complete leaves and make them dry up. This disease can be controlled by spraying Bordeaux mixture.
Nematode pests: Root knot nematodes and burrowing nematode are the two nematodes usually seen. Pick nematode free seeds for planting. Increasing the organic content of the soil helps in reducing nematodes. Nematode problems can be prevented by applying Pochoniachlamydosporia to the soil at the time of sowing.
Insects, and Pests in Growing Turmeric
Turmeric crop can be infected with some insects and pets.
Shoot borer: The shoot borer larvae bore into stems and feed on internal tissues. The withered central shoot is a characteristic symptom of pest infestation. As soon as the first symptom is noticed start spraying insecticides.Spraying Malathionevery fortnight controls the disease.
Rhizome scale: The rhizome scale directly attacks rhizomes in the field at later stages of the crop when the rhizomes are infested, they become shriveled. This can be prevented by treating the seed material with quinalphos before storage and also before sowing.
The duration of the crop depends on the variety of the seed we planted. The crop becomes ready for harvest in 6-9 months after planting based on the seed variety.Faster varieties get ready in less than 8 months and late varieties after 9 months.Aroma can be sensed when the crop is getting ready for harvest. When the crop start to give aroma, wet the plants and slightly expose the peer out the seeds. The plant turns brown and dry up gradually indicating the crop is ready for harvest. Once all the plant gets dried, plough the land gently and take the roots out. The extraction can be done using hands or carefully with a digging tool. The stems are cut just above the stems to clean them from mud and then they are washed properly without any mud materials after washing the finger rhizomes are separated from the mother rhizomes. The mother rhizomes are stored and seeded for next life cycle and the process continues. The finger rhizomes break into pieces as Turmeric.
Preservation of rhizomes for Seeds
Some rhizomes are picked and saved as seeds for the next season of the crop. It saves us from spending extra money on seeds and we can retain our best variety even for the next seasons. Rhizomes are stored in well ventilated rooms as a heap and covered with turmeric leaves. We can also save the seeds in pits filled with sawdust that are covered with some planks allowing some good ventilation. The seed rhizomes are treated with quinalphos and mancozeb to make them free from fungal infections and seed loss.
Crop Rotation in Growing Turmeric
Crop rotation is one of the best practices in cultivation. Crop rotation improves the nutrition levels in the soil and makes it free from recurring diseases. Crops like sugar cane, garlic, onion, pulses, ragior quickly growing vegetables are rotated with turmeric. Turmeric can also be cultivated along with other crops. Turmeric can be cultivated as a subsidiary crop to ginger and chilly.
Processing Turmeric/Post Harvesting of Turmeric
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Turmeric needs some treatment before making it ready for delivery. Here are the few steps to be followed.
The raw turmeric is cured for obtaining dry turmeric. Curing is the process of boiling fresh raw rhizomes in water and drying them in the sun. The turmeric fingers are separated from mother rhizomes and cleaned to remove soil around them. These cleaned rhizomes are boiled in water till froth comes out and white fumes appear giving out a typical odor. The boiling will usually take 45-60 minutes and when the boiling is finished the turmeric finders turn soft. The color and aroma of the product depend on the stage at which boiling is stopped. Over cooking and under-cooking both spoils the product.
The cooked fingers become very soft and need to be dried carefully. The soft rhizomes are dried in the sun by spreading them uniformly allowing proper sunlight to pass on them. Rhizomes should always get proper air and while storing them makes sure they are stored in properly ventilated containers. It may take a couple of weeks for the rhizomes to become completely dry. Artificial drying can also be done using cross-flow hot air. Artificial drying will give better color as in sunlight there is possibility of surface bleaching. The yield of the dry product varies depending upon the variety we have grown, soil and the location where the crop is grown.
During the process of drying, the surface of turmeric rhizomes gets bleached and appears rough. Polishing is a process of rubbing the outer surface to get rid of that dry look. Manual polishing is done by rubbing the dried turmeric fingers on a hard surface. In latest methods hand operated rotating metal drums is used. The sides of the drum are fitted with metal mesh which will rub the surface of rhizomes when the drum is rotated.
Some amount of water mixed with turmeric powder is sprayed on the polished rhizomes to make them look colorful.