Organic Turmeric Farming:
This root is highly revered in Ayurvedic medicine, as well as general South Asian cuisine.Native to Southern Asia,the name curcuma comes from the Arabic word “kurkum”, or “saffron”, and is an indication of its relationship to the vibrant orange color of both herbs. Since Biblical times, turmeric has been used to spice foods, make perfume and color clothing.
Climate and soil:
Turmeric requires a warm and humid climate. It can be grown in diverse tropical conditions from sea level to 1500mm above and temperature range of 20-30°C with a rainfall of 1500 mm or more per annum or under irrigated conditions.
Though it can be grown on different types of soils, it thrives best in well-drained sandy or clay loam soils with a pH range of 4.5-7.5 with good organic status. Turmeric can be cultivated organically as an intercrop along with other crops provided that all the companion crops are also organically grown. In some areas, turmeric is grown as an Intercrop with mango, jack and litchi and on the west coast with coconut.
Turmeric is grown in rotation with sugarcane, chilli, onion, garlic, vegetables, pulses, wheat, ragi and maize. It is cultivated as a subsidiary crop to ginger in some areas and in other areas with chilli and quick-growing vegetables.
While preparing the land, minimum tillage operations may be adopted. Beds of 15 cm height,
1 m width and of convenient length may be prepared giving at least 50 cm spacing between beds. In the case of the irrigated crop,ridges and furrows are prepared and the rhizomes are planted in shallow pits on the top of the ridges.Spacing generally adopted is 45-60 cm between the ridges and 15-20 cm between the plants. Solarisation of beds is beneficial in checking the multiplication of pests and diseases causing organisms. The polythene sheets used for soil solarisation should be kept away safely after the work is completed.
Planting material :
For turmeric farming carefully preserved seed rhizomes free from pests and diseases which are collected from organically cultivated farms should be used for planting.However, to begin with seed material from high yielding local varieties may be used in the absence of organically produced seeds. For sowing, both the mother – rhizomes and fingers are used. The fingers are cut into 4 – 5 cm long pieces, and the mother rhizomes are planted as such or split into two; each having at least one sound bud. The seed is sometimes sprouted under moist straw before sowing.
A number of cultivars are available in the country and are known mostly by the name of the locality where they are cultivated. The cultivated varieties show considerable variation in size and colour of the rhizomes and curcumin content. More than 5 per cent curcumin content and lemon yellow, orange or orange yellow coloured turmeric powder are preferred . There are two dominant types of turmeric found on the world market: ‘Madras’, and ‘Alleppey’, both named after the regions of production in India.
At the time of planting 25 g powdered neem cake mix well with soil is applied in each pit taken at a spacing of 20-25 cm within and between rows. Seed rhizomes may be put in shallow pits and covered with well rotten cattle manure or compost mixed with Trichoderma (10 gm compost Inoculated with Tricoderma). A seed rate of 1000 kg rhizomes is required for planting one acre of land. As an intercrop In a fruit-garden seed rate may be as low as 125 – 200 kg per acre. Turmeric can be planted during April-July with the receipt of pre monsoon showers.
Mulching the beds with green leaves is an important practice beneficial to this crop when planting is done on raised beds. This helps to enhance germination of seed rhizomes, prevents wash off of soil due to heavy rains,adds organic matter to the soil and conserves moisture during the dry period. Care may be taken to include a mix of leguminous crops with leaves rich in nitrogen content, phosphorus content like Acalypha weed and potassium content like Calotropis as mulch.
The first mulching is to be done at the time of planting with green leaves @ 4-5 tonnes per acre. It is to be repeated again @ 2 tonnes / acre at 50th day after planting. Cow dung slurry may be poured on the bed after each mulching to enhance microbial activity and nutrient availability. Weeding may be carried out depending on the intensity of weed growth. Such materials may be used for mulching. Proper drainage channels are to be provided in the inter rows to drain off stagnant water.
Turmeric farming needs heavy manuring. Application of well rotten cow dung or compost from own farm @2-3 tonne /acre may be given as basal dose while planting rhizomes in the pits. In addition, application of neem cake @ 0.8 tonnes/ acre is also desirable.
The underlying approach for pest and disease management under organic production is based on a range of preventive and other management strategies to minimize the incidence of pests and diseases. Regular field surveillance, adoption of phyto sanitary measures combined with understanding the life cycles of both pest and its predators will allow decisions to be made regarding the need to Intervene for managing the pest population.
If shoot borer incidence is noticed, such shoots may be cut open and larve picked out and destroyed. If necessary neem oil 0.5% may be sprayed at fortnightly intervals.
Curing, Boiling & Drying of Turmeric Fingers :
Turmeric finger boiling Curing involves boiling of fresh rhizomes in water and drying in the sun. The objective of boiling is to destroy the viability of the fresh rhizomes and to obviate the raw odor, to reduce the drying time, to gelatinize the starch for hardening the rhizomes and give a more uniform colored product and an even distribution of color in the rhizome. In the traditional methods, the cleaned rhizomes are boiled in copper or galvanized iron or earthen vessels, with water just enough to soak them. Boiling process should be done over a slow fire until they softened. Boiling is stopped when froth comes out and white fumes appear giving out a typical odor when properly cooked, the rhizomes would be soft and yield when pressed between fingers. The boiling lasts for 45 to 60 minutes when the rhizomes are soft. Over cooking spoils the color of final product while under cooking renders the dried product brittle. Turmeric drying Turmeric drying The cooking of turmeric is to be done within two or three days after harvesting. The mother rhizomes and the fingers are generally cured separately. The cooked fingers are dried in the sun by spreading 5 to 7 cm thick layers on bamboo mat or drying floor. A thinner layer is not desirable, as the colour of the dried product may be adversely affected. It may take 10 to 15 days for the rhizomes to become completely dry. The yield of the dry product varies from 20 to 30 percent depending upon the variety and the location where the crop is grown.
Herbal Properties and Uses:
Turmeric has a vast variety of medicinal uses. In traditional medicine, it used to treat liver ailments, ulcers, parasitic infections, skin problems, bruises, joint pain and inflammation, sprains, strains, cold and flu symptoms, as well as a general digestive aid. Scientific research shows that turmeric aids in breaking down liver toxins, strengthens the functioning of the gallbladder, aids in lipid (fat) metabolizing, and stops blood clotting. In general, it is a good anti-inflammatory agent. What is more, recent studies show that turmeric may help prevent colon, breast, lung and other forms of cancers.