Cardamom in Kerala for business
Cardamom Known as the Queen of the Spices, small is the dried capsules of perennial herb Elettaria maton of the family Zingiberaceae. The plant is indigenous to evergreen forests of Southern India and Sri Lanka. grown in areas where the rainfall ranges from 1500-4000mm, temperature from 10-35o and the altitude from 600-1200m above MSL. Loamy forest soils rich in organic matter with pH ranging from 5.0-6.5 are ideal. also requires over head shade.
India Sri Lanka and Guatemala are the major cardamom producing countries. In India, cardamom is cultivated in an area over 1,05,000 hectares and its cultivation is restricted to Western Ghat regions of Kerala, Karnataka and Tamil Nadu. Among the cultivated types of cardamom, three major races viz., Malabar, Mysore and Vazhukka are recognized. Cardamom is usually cultivated as a rain fed crop, but supplementary irrigation is provided in certain pockets to overcome dry spells during summer.
Cardamom is vegetatively propagated but usually seedlings are used for planting due to lack of adequate clonal material. Plant population per hectare ranges from 1000-5000 depending upon the plant type and system of planting. It starts yielding by the third year after planting. The flowering commences in April and continues up to August. The fruits come to harvest 3-4 months after flowering. Rearing of honeybees in cardamom plantations help in increasing the yields. A fertiliser dose of 30:60:30 kg of NPK per hectare is recommended in two split doses, along with compost at the rate of 5 kg per clump, under irrigated conditions a higher dose of 75:75:150 of NPK is recommended.
Mosaic or katte disease caused by virus, capsule rot (Azhukal) caused by Phytophthora sp rhizome rot caoused by Pythium sp., and Rhizoctonia sp root knot nematode (Meloidogyne incognita), thrips (Sciothrips cardamomi), shot and capsule borer (Conogethes punctiferalis) are the major diseases and pests affecting cardamom plantations. Use of disease free planting material phytosanitation and controlling the vector population will help in minimising the incidence and spread of katte disease.
Spraying and drenching off 1% Bordeaux mixture will controll capsule as well as rhizome rot. Application of 50g of phorate to each infected clump is recommended to control root knot nematode. Spraying quinalphos 0.025% during March-September at monthly intervals will control thrips whereas spraying monocrotophos 0.075% is effective in controlling shoot and capsule borer.