The Bold Voice of J&K

Turmeric-The magical plant

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  Dr.Banarsi Lal, Dr.Shahid Ahamad

Turmeric also said to be the golden spice is one of the most important spices across the globe. This crop is known for its multipurpose value such as for the medicines, colour pigment, spicy flavor etc. It is anti-cancerous, anti-inflammatory, antiseptic, antiproliferative etc. The curcumin found in it is used as a food colourant. Its annual growth rate in terms of area is 3.7 per cent and in terms of production is 9.1 per cent. It was originated from the Indo-Malayan region. Its scientific name is Curcuma longa belonging to Zingiberaceae family and is considered as the triploid. Its somatic chromosome number is 63.
India is the largest producer, consumer and exporter of turmeric in the world and 46 per cent of world turmeric trade is run by India. In India total area under turmeric is about 1, 72,000 ha and total production is about 8, 51,000 tonnes. Turmeric occupies 6.6 per cent of total area of spices in India. In order to mitigate the increasing demand of this spice there is dire need to cultivate this crop in a scientific way. Turmeric is used as a condiment, dye, food colourant, drug and medicine. Turmeric rhizomes have yellow colour component as curcumin (3-9 per cent), essential oil (5-9 per cent) and oleoresin (3-13 per cent).Curcumin is used in cosmetics, preservatives, food industries and pharmaceuticals. The artificial colouring agents have been banned and so the use of curcumin is prompted. Curcumin protects the liver from toxic compounds as it acts like an anticoagulant by inhibiting collagen and by adrenaline induced platelet aggregation. Curcumin is also used to heal the wounds. It has antifungal and antiseptic effects .It has also antiviral effects and is found effective against the HIV. Various kinds of cancer including skin, colon and prostrate can be cured by the use of
It is a tropical crop and requires hot and humid climate with optimum temperature 20-30 degrees C for a good production. It is grown in loamy, alluvial, friable and fertile soil with a PH range of 5-7.This crop is water sensitive and cannot withstand the water-logging conditions. It is grown almost at all the places including from sea level to an altitude of 1,200 m above sea level. It requires 250-400cm of rainfall for the healthy production. It is grown by the disease free mother rhizomes which are used as the planting material. Sugandham, Suvarna, Prabha, Rajendra Sonia, Narendra Haldi-1 etc. are the important varieties of turmeric. The planting material should be treated with Mancozeb (0.3 per cent) or Ridomil (0.25 per cent) before planting at least for 30 minutes. The planting material is stored in a cool dry place or in earthen pots plastered with mud.2-6 ploughing is done before sowing the turmeric crop.1-1.2mt wide beds are made with 15 cm height and convenient length. The ridges or furrows are used for sowing the turmeric. In the Northern region the turmeric is grown in April and May.60cm distance is kept between rows and 20 cm distance is kept between plants.Around20qt. of disease free rhizomes are used for one hectare area. Turmeric crop requires heavy manures and fertilizers. Crop requires 25-30t/ha of well decomposed FYM or compost,60 kg of Nitrogen,30 kg of Phosphorous and 90kg of potash/ha. Full dose of phosphorous and potash are applied at the time of planting. The Nitrogen is applied in two split doses after 45 and 90 days after planting. After mulching the beds should be mulched with green leaves so that the soil moisture can be maintained and weeds can be controlled. In turmeric 3-4 weedings are required to get the desired production. The crop gets ready to harvest in the second fortnight of February. The complete drying of leaves is the sign of maturity. The rhizomes are carefully dugout from the soil and after digging the soil is cleaned from the rhizomes and is kept in cool and dry place for the post-harvest. The yield of turmeric varied from 200-250qt/ha.
Turmeric Rhizomes
Turmeric fingers are removed from the mother rhizomes and mother rhizomes are kept aside as seed material. Curing of rhizomes is done by boiling of fresh rhizomes in water for 45-60 and drying in the sun. Boiling is stopped when the froth comes out and white fumes appear giving out a typical odour. The boiling influences the aroma colour of turmeric and overcooking spoils the quality .The cooked fingers are then dried in the sun by spreading them in 5-7cm thick layers on the floor. The thin layer adversely influences the colour of turmeric. It requires at least 10-15 days to be completely dry. Artificial drying with the cross-flow hot air at a temperature of 60 degree C also gives the good quality and colour to the turmeric. The yield of the dry product varies from 10-30 per cent depending on the variety and location. The appearance of dry turmeric can be improved by smoothening and polishing the outer surface by mechanical rubbing. An improved method of rubbing is by using the hand operated barrel or drum mounted on a central axis. When the drum filled with turmeric is rotated, polishing is effected by abrasion of the surface against the mesh and mutual rubbing against each other as they roll inside the drum. Turmeric is also polished in power operated drums. The yield of polished turmeric from the raw material varies from 15-20 per cent.The colour of turmeric should be taken care as the market prices mostly depends on the colour of the produce.
The crop mostly is infested with the rhizome rot disease which is caused by the fungus namely Pythium aphanidermatum. The collar region of the pseudo stem becomes soft and water soaked resulting in the decay of the rhizomes. Seed treatment with 50gms of Mancozeb in 15 liters of water for 30 minutes prior to storage and at the time of sowing controls the disease. When the crop is infested in the field then the fields should be drenched with the mixture of Mancozeb and Carbendazim @3gms/litre of water to control this disease. The crop is also infested with the leaf blotch disease which is caused by Taphrina maculans. Small, oval, rectangular or irregular spots appear on either side of leaves which soon become dirty yellow or dark brown. The leaves turn brown. This disease can be controlled by the spray of combination of Carbendazim and Mancozeb in the ratio of 3gm in 1 lt. of water. Leaf spot is another important disease which is caused by Collectotrichum casici and brown spots appear on the upper surface of leaves. The spots are irregular and white or grey in the centre. The disease can be controlled by the spray of Copper Oxychloride @ 3.5gm/litre of water. Shoot borer is the most serious pest in the turmeric which damages the crop up to maximum extent. The larvae of this pest bore into pseudo stems which feed the internal tissues. Spray of [email protected] per cent or Dichlorovas 2ml per litre of water is effective in controlling this pest.
(The writers are: Dr.Banarsi Lal, Incharge (Head) Krishi Vigyan Kendra, Reasi and Dr.Shahid Ahamad, Deputy Director, SKUAST-J (Sher-e-Kashmir University of Agricultural Sciences and Technology-Jammu)

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