Cardamom ( Elettaria
cardamomum L.) popularly, known as Queen of Spices is native to the evergreen rainy
forests of Western Ghats in South India. It is cultivated in Kerala, Karnataka and Tamil
Nadu. Cardamom is used for flavouring various preparations of food, confectionery,
beverages and liquors.
It is grown in the areas
where the annual rainfall ranges from 1500-4000mm, with a temperature range of 10-35o
C and an altitude of 600-1200m above Mean Sea Level. Rainfall distribution should be good
and summer showers during February-April are essential for panicle initiation.
Deep black loam soil
with high humus content found in the forest region is best suited for cultivation. It also
grows on laterite soils, clay loams and rich black soils having good drainage. Sandy soil
is not suitable.
Coorg cardamom Malabar Selection-1 (CCS-1), ICRI-1, ICRI-2, Mudigree-1, PV-1, SKP-14.
Cardamom is propagated mainly through seeds and also through suckers each consisting of atleast one old and a
young aerial shoot. Seedlings are normally raised in primary and secondary nurseries.
Raised beds are prepared after digging the land to a depth of 30-45cm. The beds of 1m
width and convenient length raised to a height of about 30cm are prepared. A fine layer of
humus-rich forest soil is spread over the beds. Seed are to be collected from well ripe
capsules. Immediately after harvesting, the husk is removed and the seeds are washed
repeatedly in water for removing the mucilaginous coating. Seeds should be sown
immediately after extraction. One kg of seed capsules may produce 5000 seedlings. Sowing
may be taken up during November-January and is done in rows. Seed beds are to be dusted
with chloropicrin or Carbon disulphide. The germination commences in about 30 days and may
continue for a month or two. After germination, the mulch is to be removed.
Manuring at the rate of
90g nitrogen (N), 60g phosphorus (P2O5) and 120g potash (K2O)
per bed of 5x1m size, in three equal split doses at an interval of 45 days is recommended
to produce healthier seedlings. The first dose of fertilizer may be applied 30 days after
transplanting in the secondary nursery.
Pits of 45x45x30cm size
are dug in April-May and filled with a mixture of top soil and compost or well decomposed
farm yard manure. In slopy land, contour terraces may be made and pits may be taken along
the contour and a close planting (2mx1m) is advisable along the contour.
The planting is carried
out during the rainy season commencing from June. Seedlings are to be planted upto the
collar region for better growth. Cloudy days with light drizzle are ideal for planting.
Generally in Kerala and Tamil Nadu, the seedlings are transplanted in March-May at a
spacing of 20x 20 cm and mulched immediately. Beds are to be covered with an over head
pandal and should be watered regularly.
A fertilizer does of
75kg nitrogen (N), 75kg phosphorus (P2O5) and 150g potash (K2O)
per ha is recommended under irrigated condition for high yielding plantation yielding 100
kg/ha and above and a dose of 30:60:30 kg/ha is recommended for gardens under rainfed
condition. Organic manures like compost or cattle manure may be given @5 kg per clump.
Fertilizer is applied in two split doses. The first application during May will help in
the production of suckers and development of capsules and the second application during
late September will help the initiation of panicles and sucker. Only half the dose of
fertilizer is to be applied during the first year and full dose is given from second year
onwards. Application of fertilizer is done at a radius of 30cm and covered with a thin
layer of soil.
In order to overcome the dry spell during summer, it is necessary to irrigate the crop to get maximum production as
it helps in initiation of panicles, flowering and fruit set. They may be irrigated at an
interval of 10-15days till the onset of monsoon.
It is an important
cultural practice in cardamom. Fallen leaves of the shade trees are utilized for mulching.
Sufficient mulch should be applied during November-December to reduce the ill effects of
drought, which prevails for nearly 4-5 months during summer. Exposing the panicle over
mulch is beneficial for pollination.
The first round of
weeding is to be carried in May-June, the second in August-September and the third in
December-January. Weedicides like paraquat @625ml in 500 litres of water may be sprayed in
the interspaces between rows leaving 60cm around the plant base.
Trashing consists of removing old and drying shoots of the plant once in a year with the onset of monsoon under
rainfed conditions and 2-3 times in high density plantations provided with irrigated
It is very sensitive to moisture stress. Shade helps to regulate soil moisture as well as temperature and provides
congenial micro-climate for cardamom. Excess shade is also quite detrimental and shade has
to be regulated so as to provide 50-60% filtered sunlight. In order to provide adequate
light during monsoon, shade regulation may be taken up before the onset of monsoon.
After the monsoon is over, a thin layer of fresh fertile soil, rich in organic matter may be earthed up at the
base of the clump, covering up to the collar region be scraping between the rows or
collecting soil from staggered trenches/check pits. This encourages new growth.
ThripsDamage to leaves, shoots, inflorescence, thrips affected capsules fetch lower price.
Regulate shade in thickly shaded area, spray monocrotophos 0.025% during March to September.
Shoot, panicle, capsule/borer
Larvae bore the unopened leaf buds, panicles causing drying or feed on young seeds causing the capsules empty.
Spraying monocrotophos or fenthion 0.075% at early stage of infection.
Nymphs and adults suck the sap and act as vector of the mosaic or 'Katte' Virus.
Spray 0.05% dimethoate
Poor germination and establishment in the nurseries, stunted and poor growth of plants, shedding of immature
capsules in the main field.
Treat the plants in the nursery with carbofuran 3 g @ 5 kg a.i/ha or in the main field with carbofurna 5 g
a.i./clump and apply 0.5 kg of neem cake per clump twice a year.
Spindle shaped, slender chlorotic flecks appear on youngest leaves, later these develop into pale green
discontinuous stripes ass leaves mature. Infected clumps are stunted, smaller in size,
with slender tillers and shorter panicles.
Use healthy seedling. Rogue the infected plants.
Affected capsules turn brownish black in colour, often rotting extends to tillers and rhizomes also.
Do trashing, remove infected and dead plants etc. during premonsoon months, spray 1% Bordeaux mixture during
May and repeat again in August.
Damping or rhizome rot
Infected seedlings collapse at collar region and die in patches, entire clump dies in grown up plants.
Pre treat the nursery with 1:50 formaldehyde, drench the soil after germination with 0.2% copper oxychloride.
Harvesting and processing
Cardamom plants normally
start bearing two years after planting. In most of the areas the peak period of harvest is
during October-November. Picking is carried out at an interval of 15-25 days. Ripe
capsules are harvested in order to get maximum green colour during curing. After harvest,
capsules are dried either in fuel kiln or electrical drier or in the sun. It has been
found that soaking the freshly harvested green cardamom capsules in 2% washing soda
solution for 10 minutes prior to drying helps to retain the green colour during drying.
When drier is used, it should be dried at 45-50o C for 14-18 hours, while for
kiln, over night drying at 50-60 o C is required. The capsules kept for drying
are spread thinly and stirred frequently to ensure uniform drying. The dried capsules are
rubbed with hands or coir mat or wire mesh and winnowed to remove any foreign matter. They
are then sorted out according to size and colour, and stored in black polythene lined
gunny bags to retain the green colour during storage.