Harvesting of Turmeric
Depending on the variety, turmeric is ready for harvest within 7-9 months of sowing. While the aromatic ones mature in 7 months, the intermediate variety takes 8 months and the late variety 9 months. They are ready for harvest when the leaves and stem start turning brown and dry up progressively. Once dried, the land is ploughed and the rhizomes are extracted. The extraction can be done by hand-picking or carefully lifting the clumps with a spade. The stems are cut an inch above the rhizomes. To clean them from mud and other extraneous matter, the rhizomes are washed and cleaned thoroughly. The finger rhizomes are then separated from the mother rhizomes. The mother rhizomes are stored as seed rhizomes for the next cycle. The finger rhizomes are then cured to extract turmeric.
Curing of Turmeric:
Curing turmeric is a lengthy and challenging process of turmeric production, because if not done properly the turmeric may not be extracted up to its full capacity. Also, care must be taken to see to it that no chemicals are used for processing.
Step 1: Boiling and Drying
The rhizomes are boiled in water and kept for sun-drying.
Step 2: Re-Boiling
Within 2-3 days of sun drying, the rhizomes are again boiled with just enough water to soak them. This boiling is done in copper or earthen vessels. They are boiled till the rhizomes become soft. Some farmers cook in perforated baskets.
Step 3: Separation from Water
The cooked rhizomes are taken out of the pan and water is allowed to drain off from the turmeric back into the pan. This water can be reused for cooking the next batch of harvested turmeric rhizomes. Usually, the mother and finger rhizomes are cured separately.
Step 4: Sun Drying
Once cooked, these rhizomes are spread under the sun on a cement floor. Sometimes bamboo mats are used. While they are spread on the floor during the daytime for sun drying, they are heaped together and covered at night so that no moisture affects the turmeric. This step lasts for 10-15 days.
In the case of artificial drying, cross-flow hot air at 60°C is used.
Polishing of Turmeric
Dried turmeric has a rough dull colour on the scales. The outer surface is polished and smoothened out to improve the appearance. In the case of manual polishing, the finger rhizomes are rubbed on a hard surface. An improvised technique is to use a hand-operated barrel mounted on a central axis. The barrel is filled with rhizomes and rotated. They get polished by mutual rubbing against each other and abrasion against the surface.
The essence of turmeric for a buyer is its colour. Therefore, in a bid to attract the buyers, a suspension of turmeric in water is added to the polishing drum during the last ten minutes. This helps the rhizomes get uniformly coated. After this, the rhizomes are dried under the sun.
Turmeric Seed Preservation
A part of the harvested rhizome seeds is preserved for the next cycle of turmeric cultivation. There are different ways of preserving the turmeric seed.
Preserving Under Shade
The rhizomes are heaped under the shade or in sheds with adequate ventilation. They are then covered with turmeric leaves and preserved.
Soil mixed with cow dung is plastered over the rhizome seeds to preserve them. This way, they stay protected from moisture and pests.
Pits are dug and covered with sawdust. The seed rhizomes are then sunk into these sawdust pits and covered using wooden planks.
Yield from Haldi Farming
Generally, pure turmeric yields a quantity of eight to ten thousand kilograms per acre. Under extremely favourable conditions, the yield can go up to as high as twelve thousand kilograms per acre.
Viability of Turmeric CultivationCommercial
Turmeric cultivation is an extremely viable and profitable business. The ease of growing turmeric and the fact that it requires minimum surveillance and care have made it an attraction. Along with turmeric cultivation, turmeric processing is also a good agribusiness.
Expenses at the Time of Cultivation on Per Acre Basis (Approx.)
Benefits of Turmeric Cultivation:
Yield (Per Hectare Basis) - 2 metric tons
Net Income at lowest price - ₹ 40,000 - (₹ 2, 000 - per quintal)
Market price - ₹ 2,000 - ₹ 4,000/- per quintal
Indian turmeric is very high in its curcumin content. Hence it is considered the best quality turmeric. Naturally, India is the largest producer and exporter of turmeric in the world. Thailand, Taiwan, Central, and Latin America are other producers. Turmeric production in India is about 78% of total turmeric production in the world. Needless to say, this makes turmeric cultivation in India a viable and feasible form of agribusiness.