Turmeric cultivation in India and Profit

Turmeric is one of the most widely cultivated spices in india. It’s also one of the few easier spice crops which can be grown in indian climate. Its easier than most other spices but turmeric cultivation has its own requirements. The needs of the plant are crucial. Turmeric is good in climatic conditions where weather is between 25-35 degrees. Too hot or too cold weather is not tolerated. Being a root crop, turmeric does not do well in waterlogged conditions. Heavy rain falls are ok during the first few months of cultivation but water logging is still not allowed.

Hot weather will see lower growth and too cold and the plant will wither. Turmeric can be cultivated in almost all parts of india. The southern region is perfect for turmeric but part of the north is also well suited. Kashmir, Himachal and places which are extremely cold should not be considered for turmeric cultivation

Basic requirements for Turmeric cultivation

Soil and weather are crucial but just the beginning. Turmeric requires area which are not water logged. Flooding is not an option for turmeric and turmeric plants can be infected with disease or die out with excessive water. While turmeric can survive well in partial shade, full sun is recommended for open farm commercial cultivation. Shade from trees may be caused by various diseases because of high moisture content. If the moisture content can be controlled, shaded areas are excellent for turmeric. As a matter of fact, many people have found great success in intercropping mangoes with Turmeric.

In commercial open farm agriculture, farms are prepared by ploughing the field and removing all weeds. On second ploughing farms are fertilized with manure and organic compost at 8  tonnes per acre or 6-7 tractor trailers per acre. Organic matter is key to good growth of turmeric and its also known to improve aeration in the soil for the roots to move easily. Turmeric, being a root crop, requires the soil to be as loose as possible. 

On application and ploughing of manure and organic compost, the field is left for 10 days. This allows all pests in the compost and manure to die and free from diseases. Rotovators are used to make the soil even more softer and free from clumps. This also ensures that the organic matter mixes well with the soil. 

The next phase is the bed creation. Bed creation is crucial in turmeric plantation. For flood irrigation, this becomes even more important, though flood irrigation is not recommended. Water logging should be prevented at all times and specially during monsoon, chances or water logging is high. Creating beds with deep channels in between allows water to drain out, ensuring that the turmeric plant is not drowned. Even if you are using drip irrigation and not flood irrigation, bed is important and its recommended to have beds at 1 feet height. 

Beds are 3 feet in width and have a distance of 1 feet between each bed. The height of the bed as mentioned before is 1 feet. Once beds are prepared, A basal dose is applied of SSP 250 KG per acre and MOP 200 KG per acre. The basal dose is applied on the prepared bed before sowing. Its important to note that the basal dose should be on the top and not mixed with the soil while preparing the bed.

Once the basal dose is applied, Seeds are sowed at 1 feet distance between plants and 9 inches between the rows. Each plant should be allowed at least 1 feet of growing space in the root area. Its noted that some good varieties yield 1 -1.5 kg of turmeric per plant. Allowing good space ensures maximum capability of growth per plant. Sowing happens between Mid May and Mid June. After June the monsoons are at their peak and its not recommended to sow turmeric later than mid june. Once the seeds are sown, 2 liters of jeevamrutha diluted in 100 litres of water should be applied to increase germination. Also apply humic acid for quick germination.

Varieties :  Salem, Rajapuri, kadappa, krushna, pragati, fule swarup are some of the few varieties in india. There are a lot of varieties in India and you should choose the right variety which is suitable to your local conditions. It’s also important to understand where and for what you are selling the turmeric to. For instance, if you intend to sell the turmeric for medicinal purposes, then you should consider a variety with high curcumin and cultivate turmeric organically. If you expect to sell turmeric raw then you should find out which variety is sold locally and cultivate the variety. The requirements of the buyer are key when it comes to cultivating turmeric. Cultivating high curcumin turmeric which may have high value but low yield and selling it for local consumption is not recommended. Your price will drop drastically and you would sell a high value product at a low price creating a loss. 

Always know the type of turmeric you want to cultivate and where you can sell them before starting your cultivation. IF yo are cultivating turmeric for medicinal purposes, know the rates, the variety and how much quantity they will acquire from you. Also ensure that you know the curcumin level expectations and if they are ok with non organic or partially organic produce if you are going to use pesticides and chemicals.

Irrigation : With regard to irrigation, you should always use drip irrigation to save water and get the right humidity level. When it comes to soil conditions a bit of humidity is always required for turmeric during the first few months but the soil should be relatively dry during the last few months when the harvest is ready. Drip irrigation can be either 2 lines or 1 line per bed. 2 Line is recommended for best results. 

Fertigation is usually done through drip irrigation too. So you may want to consider inline drips for water soluble fertilizers. The first few weeks will require regular watering and the bed is to be moist. Germination happens in 3-4 weeks and notable growth can be seen. Application of fertilizers will commerce once the plant germinates. The water used for irrigating turmeric does not need to be from any particular source but the ph level should preferably be neutral.

Urea is the Key requirement for turmeric . Turmeric requires at least 20 KG of Nitrogen in the soil per month. 20-25 KG urea is a must for the first 6 months of a 9 month crop. Application should be regular and can be through drip or normal application.

Seed Treatment : The Most common mistake most farmers make is not treating the seeds properly. Turmeric seeds are susceptible to root rots . Poor seeds could also be infected by fungal diseases and other problems which could wipe out the entire crop within days. Proper seed treatment and seed selection is the first step all farmers should take to increase production and retain a good turmeric crop. Seed treatment is done with Copper oxyChloride or Dimethoate. 2 grams of Copper oxyChloride in 1 litre of water ratio is used to treat seeds. Seeds are dipped in the solution for 15-20 minutes and left to dry in shade for a few hours before sowing. This ensures that any bacterial or fungal diseases are removed. This also is key for proper germination. Seed treatment increases germination by 70%.

Alternative chemicals include Mancozeb Lesenta Chlorpyriphos for seed treatment

Its also important to know the source of the seeds and how they were stored. Seeds were traditionally stored in mounds covered with dry grass or hay and plastered with clay. The mound is allowed proper ventilation via pvc tubes which are placed in between and the turmeric mound is always placed in a shaded area, sometimes even under a tree. Stored traditionally in this method allows no pests or rodents to enter and also ensures that the seeds are well stored. While this may look error prone, this method has been used since ages and the quality of the seed will be retained for almost a year without any problems. When its time to sow, seeds are removed from the mound and then planted. Even a moderate to good rain will not penetrate the mound with the protection of the tree as a shade and the clay plaster.

800-900 Kilos of turmeric is required to plant one acre of turmeric. Good quality seeds are always key to success.

Turmeric is susceptible to a range of pests and diseases. Common pests are Rhizome fly – 

Rhizome Rot, White Grub, Shoot Borers,Leaf Blotch, Leaf spot etc. The chemical pesticides for these diseases are usually the same for all the crops. 

Processing of turmeric.

Harvesting of turmeric is a manual process. The roots are dug out and stored in shaded area. The roots can be stored for 2-3 days without any problem after which the water content in the turmeric will start reducing and the turmeric starts to shrink. To prevent shrinkage, store the harvested turmeric in saw dust in a shaded area. When harvesting is complete, the turmeric fingers are removed from the rhizome. The rhizomes are stored for seed while the fingers are boiled in hot water for 50-60 minutes. Boiling the turmeric for more than 60 minutes will drain its color and for less than 50 minutes will render the turmeric fingers brittle. 

Once boiled, the turmeric fingers are dried in sun on a bamboo mat or drying surface for 10-15 days. When the turmeric fingers are dried, the product has a pale color. This pale color can be removed by polishing. Refer http://www.celkau.in/crops/spices/Turmeric/processing.aspx for methods of polishing manually. Once polished the product is ready to be powdered and stored.

Turmeric processing is a time intensive process and can also be done with machinery and drying equipment. While this may cost a lot, it may be essential for those who are doing a very large scale production. For people who are cultivating in less than 20 acres, Manual processing is recommended. Alternatively you can find processing centers in your area who will process turmeric .

Turmeric Yield per acre

Turmeric has a yield potential of 35-45 quintal per acre. This may not sound like much but if you look at the cost involved in cultivating turmeric and the price you get you will realize that turmeric cultivation is a very profitable business.

One acre of  Turmeric cultivation can get you anywhere between 16500 to 200000 rs in a year. Remember that the price of 6000 per quintal is the minimum price most farmers got in a year. And 35 quintals per acre is a moderate figure. Chances of profit in Turmeric cultivation is high unless you miss out on the key cultivation practices which includes Flooding the field, no proper drainage for water or no seed treatment etc.

Turmeric plantation in vertical farming with hydropnics is known to increase yield by 100 times and generate revenues upto 35 Lakh per annum in just one acre. This project is extremely expensive but if you have the investment in terms of time and money, the process is worth considering. More details on


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