Turmeric cultivation in India is a good business. Turmeric production in India is about 78% of total production in the world. Turmeric can be grown as a monocrop or with other plantation crops as intercrop. Discover how to grow turmeric. Here is the complete information on turmeric plant, seed and production.
Turmeric, known as haldi in Hindi, is a popular and sacred spice from India. It is nicknamed as ‘Indian Solid Gold’ and ‘Indian Saffron’ owing to its golden yellow color. It has profound significance as a condiment, dyeing agent, flavoring agent and even as a medicine. It is an inseparable ingredient in Asian cuisine especially in Indian curry preparations. A by-product of turmeric is ‘kumkum’ or the sacred vermilion. It has a place of importance in many Hindu religious ceremonies, offerings and festivals. Owing to the increasing demand of pure, organic food products, turmeric is an important food coloring agent.
Information on Turmeric Plant
Botanically called Curcuma longa, turmeric belongs to Zingiberaceae family- the same family as ginger. It is the rhizome or the root that is used for various purposes mentioned above. Turmeric plant grows from the rhizome and the leaves are broad, long and bright green in color. The plant does not have a well-defined stem. It is a pseudostem which is shorter than the leaves. The flowers are pale yellow and are borne on spikes.
Generally turmeric is ready for harvesting within 7-9 months. Typically, it is ready when the leaves turn yellow in color.
Ideal Conditions for Turmeric Cultivation
Turmeric needs a warm, humid climate for growth. It grows in hilly areas at an altitude of 1500m from sea level. The ideal temperature ranges between 20-30 ⁰C and the rainfall needed is 1500 to 2250 mm per annum for turmeric cultivation in India. It can also be grown as an irrigated crop.
Clayey soil with a large amount of humus is best for growing turmeric. It can however also grow in sandy soil that is well-drained. Other types of soil that is suitable for turmeric cultivation are red soil, ashy loam or light black soil. In other words, any type of loamy soil, with natural drainage system is good for turmeric plantation. The water must drain off and not stagnate at the place. In addition the soil acidity must be neutral. Alkaline or acidic soil would harm the rhizome of turmeric plant and it cannot grow.
If turmeric is being grown organically then it must be rotated with other organically grown crops. Using inorganic or synthetic fertilizers would affect the soil quality and the harvest thus produced would not be organic. Commercially, crops like sugarcane, garlic, onion, pulses, yam (elephant foot), wheat, maize, ragi and some other quickly growing vegetables are rotated with turmeric. It is also cultivated as a subsidiary crop to ginger and chilli.
If you are planning to grow turmeric organically, then, you must ensure that the crops rotated are also organic. In addition, if the neighboring farms are non-organic then you must maintain a buffer zone of 25-50 feet. However, the produce is not treated as organic under such conditions. For turmeric, a conversion period of two years is needed in case of organic farming.
Land Preparation for Turmeric Cultivation
While preparing the land for turmeric farming and cultivation, beds must be prepared with 15 cm as height and 1m as the width. The length can be as per convenience. When sowing the rhizomes or turmeric seeds, there should be a space of 10 cm between two rhizomes. The beds must be 50 cm apart from each other.
If the crops are to be irrigated, ridges and furrows must be prepared for turmeric cultivation. The rhizomes are planted in the shallow ridges.
Solarisation is use of sun for checking the growth of pests and weeds using solar power. Solarizing the beds before turmeric cultivation can keep the disease causing organisms under check.
Turmeric seed rhizomes from previous harvest are used for cultivation of turmeric in the next crop rotation cycle. In case you are cultivating it for the first time then you can buy them from the market or local agricultural body. If you are opting organic growth of turmeric, you must collect seed rhizomes from organically cultivated farms. For commercial production, high yielding varieties such as Suguna, Krishna, Sudarshana, Sugandham, Roma and Ranga can be used. Both mother as well as finger rhizomes are used for sowing purposes. The mother rhizomes can be sowed in whole or split into two with each having a complete bud. The finger buds are cut into long pieces of 5cms each.
In case you are looking for high yielding, disease resistant turmeric varieties, then Pratibha variety is a good choice. It is one of the two types developed by the Indian Institute of Spices Research through seedling selection. The other variety developed by this method is Prabha. These strains are more resistant to rhizome rot than others.
Planting of Turmeric Seeds
The turmeric seeds are often kept beneath moist straw and left for sprouting before sowing. The planting time in India, is typically just after the pre-monsoon showers. This period varies from state to state. For example, it is around April in Kerala, May in parts of Maharashtra, Karnataka.
Turmeric is a plant that needs lot of manure for growth. Hence, the rhizomes are covered with rotten cattle manure and then sowed. They can also be covered with Trichoderma mixed compost. Powdered neem cake is mixed with soil and is applied in the pits prepared for sowing. Approximately, 1000kg rhizomes are needed for planting in one acre of land. If turmeric is being used as an inter-crop then the seed rate can be as low as 125kg per acre.
Turmeric Plant Protection
In order to protect the turmeric plant from pests and diseases, regular field surveillance is necessary. This is more important in case of organic farming. For non-organic farming, farmyard manure is applied as the basal dose. A mixture of potash and phosphorous is used as the basal dose in non-organic farming. This basal dose is applied at the time of sowing. After 120 days of planting, 125Kg of nitrogen is applied.
For protecting the plants from diseases, pest and disease management is of utmost importance especially in organic farming. There are various strategies that can be adopted such as:
- Regular field surveillance
- Understanding the life cycle of pests and predators
- Appropriate phyto-sanitary measures
Diseases and Pests for Turmeric Cultivation in India
There are different types of pests that affect turmeric during its growth at different stages.
|Name of the Disease||Part Affected||Stage Affected|
|Shoot Borer||Pseudostem and growing shoots||All stages of growth|
|Leaf roller||Leaves||2-5 months|
|Rhizome scales||Rhizomes||Rhizome formation|
|Lace wing bug||Leaves||2-5 months|
|Bihar hairy caterpillar||Leaves||2-5 months|
|Rhizome fly||Rhizomes||Rhizome formation|
This is the most serious disease affecting turmeric and it can occur at any stage of growth.
Nature of Damage
The larva burrow into the pseudostems and they feed on the growing shoot. The larvae stays within the pseudostem.
- Presence of holes in the pseudostem
- Withered central shoots
- Presence of frass near the holes in the pesudostem
- Infested shoots become yellow and dry
- Eggs are found on the tender part of the plant. They are pink, flat and oval in shape.
- Larva is brown in color and the body is covered with innumerable minute hairs. The larvae are long and pale green with pinkish dots on the dorsal side.
- Pupa is enclosed in a silken cocoon in the larval tunnel.
- The adult moth is medium-sized with pale-yellow colored wings. The wings are accompanied with black spots.
- The turmeric seed rhizomes must be free from infestation.
- Plot must be weed free.
- Biofertilizers must be used after thorough testing of the soil.
- Water must be not left stagnant. They must be drained properly.
- Conducting field visits on regular basis would help keep the pests in check.
- Light traps must be installed to keep the moth growth in check.
- In case shoot bearer is noticed during growth, the shoots must be cut opened to pick out the larvae. The larvae must be later destroyed.
- Spray 0.5% neem oil at fortnightly intervals.
Leaf- eating caterpillar
Nature of Damage
After hatching, the larva feed on the leaves. Initially they feed by scraping the leaves and later start feeding on them by rolling them together.
- Leaves roll up longitudinally
- Complete defoliation of the plant.
- Larva has a black color head and its body is light green.
- Adult is brownish-black butterfly. Its forewings have white spots while hindwings has a large white patch.
- Proper sanitation at regular intervals
- In severe cases, spraying with 0.2% carbaryl helps the infestation control.
Cockerell insect (both adults and crawlers)
Nature of Damage
- White colored scales are seen scattered on the rhizomes during storage which later clump together near the growing bud.
- Buds and rhizomes shrivel and the rhizomes dry up in extreme cases.
- On field, turmeric plants seem weak, devitalized before drying up completely.
- Yellow-colored crawlers move around in large numbers at the time of harvest.
- White colored scales on the rhizome
- Plants are devitalized during growth
- Elongated rounded eggs
- Yellowish crawlers
- Select rhizomes free of infestation
- Seed rhizomes must be kept immersed in insecticidal solution for 15 minutes, dried and then stored in sand.
Lace Wing Bug
Nymph and adult bugs
Nature of Damage
- The bugs suck sap from the leaves causing the leaf to yellow, weaken and ultimately fall off.
- Yellow patches on the leaves accompanied with black resinous spots on the damaged areas.
- Formation of yellow patches on the leaves.
- The bugs are about 4mm in length with shiny, transparent, reticular wings
- Spraying the leaves with 2ml per litre malathion is effective.
Harvesting of Turmeric
Depending on the variety, turmeric is ready for harvest within 7-9 months of sowing. While the aromatic ones mature in 7 months, the intermediate variety takes 8 months and the late variety 9 months. They are ready for harvest when the leaves and stem start turning brown and dry up progressively. Once dried, the land is ploughed and the rhizomes are extracted. The extraction can be done by hand-picking or carefully lifting the clumps with a spade. The stems are cut an inch above the rhizomes. In order to clean them from mud and other extraneous matter, the rhizomes are washed and cleaned thoroughly. The finger rhizomes are then separated from the mother rhizomes. The mother rhizomes are stored as seed rhizomes for the next cycle. The finger rhizomes are then cured to extract turmeric.
Curing of Turmeric
Curing turmeric is a lengthy and challenging process of turmeric production. Challenging because if not done properly the turmeric may not be extracted upto its full capacity. Also care must be taken to see to it that no chemicals are used for processing.
Step 1: Boiling and Drying
The rhizomes are boiled in water and kept for sun-drying.
Step 2: Re-Boiling
Within 2-3 days of sun drying, the rhizomes are again boiled with just enough water to soak them. This boiling is done in copper or earthen vessels. They are boiled till the rhizomes become soft. Some farmers cook in perforated baskets.
Step 3: Separation from Water
The cooked rhizomes are taken out of the pan and water is allowed to drain off from the turmeric back into the pan. This water can be reused for cooking the next batch of harvested turmeric rhizomes. Usually the mother and finger rhizomes are cured separately.
Step 4: Sun Drying
Once cooked, these rhizomes are spread under the sun on cement floor. Sometimes bamboo mats are used. While they are spread on the floor during daytime for sun drying, they are heaped together and covered at night so that no moisture affects the turmeric. This step lasts for 10-15 days.
In case of artificial drying, cross-flow hot air at 60°C is used.
Polishing of Turmeric
Dried turmeric has a rough dull color on the scales. The outer surface is polished and smoothened out to improve the appearance. In case of manual polishing, the finger rhizomes are rubbed on hard surface. An improvised technique is to use hand-operated barrel mounted on a central axis. The barrel is filled with rhizomes and rotated. They get polished by mutual rubbing against each other and abrasion against the surface.
The essence of turmeric for a buyer is its color. Therefore, in a bid to attract the buyers, a suspension of turmeric in water is added to the polishing drum during the last ten minutes. This helps the rhizomes get uniformly coated. After this, the rhizomes are dried under the sun.
Turmeric Seed Preservation
A part of the harvested rhizome seeds are preserved for the next cycle of turmeric cultivation. There are different ways of preserving the turmeric seed.
Preserving Under Shade
The rhizomes are heaped under the shade or in sheds with adequate ventilation. They are then covered with turmeric leaves and preserved.
Soil mixed with cow dung is plastered over the rhizome seeds to preserve them. This way, they stay protected from moisture and pests.
Pits are dug and covered with sawdust. The seed rhizomes are then sunk into these sawdust pits and covered using wooden planks.
Yield from Turmeric Farming
Generally, pure turmeric yields a quantity of eight to ten thousand kilograms per acre. Under extremely favorable conditions, the yield can go upto as high as twelve thousand kilograms per acre.
Commercial Viability of Turmeric Cultivation
Turmeric cultivation is an extremely viable and profitable business. The ease of growing turmeric and the fact that it requires minimum surveillance and care has made it an attraction. Along with turmeric cultivation, turmeric processing is also a good agribusiness.
Here is a brief on the expenses incurred at the time of cultivation of turmeric and its benefits:
Expenses at the Time of Cultivation on Per Acre Basis (Approx.)
|Sowing and Planting||4000/-|
Benefits of Turmeric Cultivation
|Yield (Per Hectare Basis)||2 metric tons|
|Net Income at lowest price||40000/- (2000/- per quintal)|
|Market price||2000- 4000/- per quintal|
Indian turmeric is very high in its curcumin content. Hence it is considered as the best quality turmeric. Naturally, India is the largest producer and exporter of turmeric in the world. Thailand, Taiwan, Central and Latin America are other producers. Turmeric production in India is about 78% of total turmeric production in the world. Needless to say, this makes turmeric cultivation in India a viable and feasible form of agribusiness.