Cardamom Farming Complete Project Report
Cardamom is one of the oldest spices in the world which is known to be the ‘Queen of Spices’ and popularly known as ‘Elaichi’ in India, native to the western Ghats of South India. It is used in the preparation of many dishes or in flavouring of processed foods, cordials and Ayurvedic medicines and also in confectioneries, beverages and liquors. It has a strong and unique aroma and taste.
India is the second highest producer of Cardamom in the whole world and it also leads in its export after Guatemala. The spice is considered as the world’s third most expensive Spice after Vanilla and Saffron in the market. Small Cardamom and Black Cardamom are the two types of Cardamom found, where small Cardamom has excellent demand in the Middle East Market and Asian markets. Cardamom is commercially cultivated for its dried fruits known as ‘capsules’ which is also referred to as the Cardamom of Commerce.
Cardamom is a profitable spice and Here we will learn more about its Commercial Cultivation process. So let’s begin but before that we will know about Cardamom.
General Description of Cardamom
Cardamom or Elettaria Cardamomum is a member of the Zingiberaceae family. Cardamom is derived from the Latin word ‘Cardamomum’ and it takes 3 years to bear fruits and after that they are productive for more than 5 to 6 years.
The dried mature fruit is the useful part of the Cardamom which is known as ‘capsule’ and is used for flavouring cakes, curries, bread and many other culinary purposes and is also used as masticatory or flavouring of coffees and confectionaries.
The oil of Cardamom seeds and pods are used in perfumes and also as a stimulant and India is the leading producer of the Oil and Oleoresins to European countries. Cardamom is also used in medical purposes because it is very curative in nature and helps in the healing of sore throat, whitening of teeth and digestive disorders and it is one of the primary ingredients used in herbal health supplements such as tea bags, Cardamom powder, Cardamom liquids, etc.
It is a dried fruit of a tall perennial plant popularly known as Ilaichi or Elaichi in India and referred to as the ‘Queen of spices’ cultivated in Karnataka, Kerala and Tamil Nadu, and is one of the most expensive spice in the world because of its aroma and flavour, with India being the biggest producer of it in the whole world.
Guatemala is the world’s biggest producer and exporter of Cardamom followed by India and Sri Lanka; and Saudi Arabia and Kuwait are the leading importers of the spice.
Guatemala produces Cardamom whole year because it has the required climatic conditions and this is the biggest advantage for its export market and Saudi Arabia is the largest importer of Cardamom because they use it in flavouring drinks like concoction that is very popular in the Middle East regions such as Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, UAE etc.
Types of Cardamom
There are two types of Cardamom:
Small Cardamom (Elettaria Cardamomum) – It is also known as ‘True Cardamom‘ and is the most common variety that is seen in the spice aisle of the supermarket and it is the top choice for the sweet dishes but it works well in Savoury dishes. There is also one bleached version of it known as White Cardamom which has less flavour and is grown in tropical areas including India, Malaysia and Costa Rica.
Black Cardamom (Amomum costatum and Amomum subulatum) – This Cardamom has larger pods which are dark brown in colour and has a smoky element that makes it more appropriate for savoury dishes and is also used in sweet dishes as well in the South Indian regions. It is grown in the Eastern Himalayas.
Health Benefits of Cardamom
The following are the health benefits:
It relieves acidity and good for digestion
It detoxifies the body by eliminating the waste through the Kidneys.
It has excellent diuretic properties.
It is good for oral health.
It is good for the cold and flu.
It helps in reducing blood pressure levels.
It prevents the clotting of blood.
It works as an antioxidant and anti-inflammation agent.
It is a good remedy for hiccups.
It fights Anaemia.
It beats bad breath.
Varieties/Cultivars of Cardamom
There are many commercial and improved varieties of Cardamom grown in the world.
Some of the high yielding commercial or hybrid improved small Cardamom varieties in India are:
SKP 14 Thirumalai
Some of the commercial varieties of Big Cardamom are:
Ideal Conditions for Cardamom Farming
Cardamom Farming requires a particular type of climate and soil for better farming and high yielding of the crop. Here we will discuss the ideal conditions for its cultivation.
Cardamom grows well in tropical regions with a well distributed annual rainfall of 1500 to 2500 mm with a mean temperature of 15 °C to 35 °C and at an altitude of 600 to 1200 metres above mean sea level. For initiation of panicles, summer showers are essential during February to April months.
Small Cardamom crops require soils that are rich in organic matter and have a good drainage facility. Commercial farming of small Cardamom requires loamy soils. They can also grow well in Laterite soils and the soil where the pH range is about 5 to 6.5 and to achieve good yielding, the soil should be rich in Nitrogen and low to medium levels of Potassium and Phosphorus. Sandy soil is avoided for Cardamom Farming.
Propagation of Cardamom
Small Cardamom is mostly propagated by seeds and vegetative method of propagation where vegetative method is more popular as it ensures high yielding of the crop. Vegetative propagation is practised through suckers and the selected seedlings should be free from diseases and pests and tissue culture techniques can also be practised for micro propagation.
The seedlings are preferred to raise in nursery beds for 10 to 18 months before moving it to mean field plantation. The beds are prepared at a depth of 30 to 40 cm with one metre width and it should be done in the month of November to January. It takes 30 days time for germination and sometimes it also takes two months time and the raised plants are immediately mulched with available leaf litter and are then planted in the pits.
Land Preparation & Spacing
The land is prepared by digging pits with dimensions of 45× 45×30 cm before the rainy season, and filled with a mixture of topsoil and well composted Farmyard manure or any compost. For sloppy lands, contour terraces are made with a spacing of 2×1 metres. For row to row and plant to plant, a spacing of 2×3 metres is preferred.
Planting of Cardamom
Cardamom is planted at the onset of monsoons i.e from June to July with light drizzles. After the preparation of the pit, a mature sucker along with young growing shoots is planted and the pits are then filled with soil and the base is covered with mulch to avoid weed growth and it also saves water out of evaporation and from soil erosion.
It should be taken care of while planting the seedling so as to avoid deep planting as it suppresses its growth and the seedlings should be planted up to the collar region in the pit. After transplanting, the seedlings should be supported by stakes. For tissue culture seedlings, the hardened plants should be planted in the main field.
Irrigation in Cardamom Farming
Cardamom plants are irrigated at a period of 10 to 15 days till the onset of monsoon and thereafter frequent and regular irrigation may help in the initiation of panicles, flowering and germination of fruit.
It is recommended to maintain the soil moisture above 50% and the overhead irrigation method is ideally suited for Cardamom plants. The water should be saved by adopting drip irrigation method which saves 2 to 3 litres of water and the plants should be given 12 to 15 litres of water through drip irrigation method per day.
Manures & Fertilisers
For better growth of the crop and good yield, manures and fertilisers are supplied. N:P:K @ 75:75:150 kg / ha applied and an appropriate organic manure or any cattle dung is applied at 5 kg per clump, also Neem Oil cake is applied at the rate of 1 kg per clump.
Manures are given in three equal doses to the soil at an interval of 45 days and after applying them it is thoroughly covered with the topsoil The fertilisers are applied in split doses under rainfed conditions. The first application is to help in the production of suckers and the development of capsules and the second application helps in the initiation of panicles and suckerss and these fertilisers are applied in four split doses at quarterly intervals in case of irrigated plantation.
Intercultural Operations in Cardamom Farming
A proper and timely intercultural operation is essential for healthy growth of plants and good yields. For Cardamom cultivation following intercultural operations are practised:
Mulching – This practice helps in saving the trees from the loss of moisture and soil erosion. The dry leaves can be utilised as a mulching material that works as an organic matter in the later stages of the plant growth.
Weeding – The field should be free of weeds. Weedicides like paraquat @625 ml in every 500 litres of water are sprayed in the spaces between the rows leaving about 100 cm from the plant base.
Trashing – The old and dried shoots of the plants are removed once a year for better and effective results under rainfed conditions in high density plantations with proper irrigated conditions.
Shade Regulations – Cardamom crop is very sensitive to moisture and stress so shade is applied for regulating the soil moisture and temperature. The fast growing shade trees like balangi, cedar and elangi should be planted in the main field before plantation of Cardamom.
Earthling Up – It should be done at the base of the clump after the monsoon season by covering the collar region and scraping between the rows. It is helpful for growing the plants.
Pests & Diseases
For a healthy crop, it is essential to control the pests and diseases. Some common pests and diseases found in Cardamom cultivation are mentioned below.
Thrips – It is controlled by spraying Monocrotophos @0.025% from March to September.
Capsule/Shoot Borer – It is controlled by spraying Fenthion @0.075%.
Aphids – It is controlled by spraying Dimethoate @0.05%
These diseases can be controlled by spraying Bordeaux mixture @1% or Copper Oxychloride @ 0.2% during May and again in August.
You can also contact the local Horticulture department as they can provide good solutions for controlling these pests and diseases.
Harvesting in Cardamom Cultivation
The Cardamom plants attain maturity in 20 to 24 months and the economic crop production starts from the third year and continues up to 8 to 10 years if there is practised an ideal crop management. The harvesting period depends on the region and the variety of crops used. The crop comes in your hand after three years of planting the seedlings in the field.
The fruits usually mature at a 30 to 40 days interval and it needs 5 to 6 pickings. Over mature Cardamom fruits split on the drying floor where the unripe fruits shrivel on drying. The ripe capsules are harvested and dried in an electrical drier or fuel kiln or in the sun by spreading it uniformly to ensure uniform drying which are then rubbed with hands or mat or wire mesh or coir mat to remove any foreign matter and are restored in black polythene lined gunny bags to retain their green colour. Cardamom gets a high market value based on its size, colour and freshness.
Yield of Cardamom
Cardamom plant starts building after two to three years after planting and it establishes after the fourth year. During the second year it yields at an average of 50 kgs per acre and 145 kgs per acre in the third year and then in the fourth year it yields about 200 kg per acre.
The average yield of dry Cardamom capsules is around 450 to 500 kg per ha from a well grown plantation and it varies from soil to soil and type of variety used.
Cardamom plant requires 35 to 40 months for producing capsules containing seeds and it is an important commercial spice crop in South India, Sri Lanka, Guatemala, Indo China and Tanzania and it is recommended to soak these seeds for 24 to 48 hours in clean water before sowing them on the ground. It is difficult to grow in all climatic conditions and it requires a proper temperature and 70 to 80% humidity.
The harvesting season depends on the region and it prefers rich humus soil which is slightly acidic in nature. Cardamom plants can also be grown in pots, containers and in the backyard and it can be transported to local markets or Cardamom dealers for selling it on a commercial basis.