Cardamom, known as the "Queen of Spices" is a perennial herbaceous plant with a pseudo stem and thick irregular shaped rhizomes. Cardamom grows wild in the Western Ghats of Southern India. Dried fruit or Cardamom capsule is traded as a spice. There are several commercial grades of cardamom including whole cardamom as primary products in spice trade, ground form as secondary processed products and in the form of extractions of oil and oleoresin as value added products. Cardamom is mainly used in the food industry as a flavoring agent. Cardamom Oil is used for flavoring of beverages and drinks such as coffee and tea.
Cardamom can be found in central hill country of Sri Lanka where elevation is 600M amsl. Kandy, Matale, Kegalle, NuwaraEliya, Rathnapura and a part of Galle are the major growing districts.
Three types of Cardamom are found in Sri Lanka and they categorized based on the shape of the inflorescence.
- Malabar - Inflorescence is prostrate.
- Mysore - Inflorescence is vertical.
- Vazhukka - Inflorescence is inclined.
Characteristics of varieties
|Elevation of planting||600-900m||900-1350m||800-1300m|
|Fruiting branches (panicles)||Prostrate||Erect||Semi erect|
|Leaf under surface||Silky||Coarse||Coarse|
|Height||2.5 -3.0m||3.5- 4.5m||3.5-4.5m|
Well drained deep loamy and loamy clay soils with high organic matter (>5%) with good litter mulch are preferable. Water logged or eroded soils are not suitable. Soil pH ranged from 4.5 to 6.0.
Elevation-must be over 600M amsl. Hilly areas of wet zones of up country and mid country are most preferable. Well distributed rainfall between 1500 - 2500mm per annum is essential for the well growth of the crop. Nearly 60% shade is essential factor for cardamom. Hence it is commonly grown under natural forest cover. Most favored temperature is 10-25 0C.
Field planting Spacing
Cardamom can be propagated both through suckers and seedlings. But suckers are better and commonly used. Suckers in 6-10 cm length with a piece of rhizome of about 8-10cm long are used and they should be dipped in a copper base fungicide before planting to protect from fungal disease.
- Flat lands - 2.0x 2.5m
- Sloppy lands - 1.25 x 2.5m (between row)
- Planting points - 2000/ha
Size of a planting pit should be 40 cm x 40cm x 40 cm and pits are filled with mixture of compost and top soil. Add 100g of rock phosphate to each pit. Suckers should be planted 5cm below the ground level.
Recommended mixture - 700 kg / ha/yr at the density of 2000 plants/ha
|Components of the mixture||Parts by weight||Nutrient in the mixture|
|Rock phosphate ( 28 % P2O5)||4||10% P2O5|
|Muriate of potash (60% K2O)||2||11% K2O|
|Age of plantation||Maha Season (mixture Kg/ha.)||Yala Season (mixture Kg./Ha.)|
|1st Year (kg)||100||100|
|2nd Year (kg)||200||200|
|3rd Year and onwards (kg)||350||350|
Slash weeding is recommended. Pseudo stems which have finished their cycle of production should be cut above 50 cm and necessary to crush the stem by bending.
Pest and Diseases
Shoot and capsule borer
Larvae emerged from eggs laid on leaf sheaths eat the internal parts of the pseudo stem which cause to drying up of central spindle. Immature fruits can also be attacked causing empty capsules. Fecal matters of lava can be seen coming out through the holes in the stem.
- Cut and destroy the infested stems to kill living lava inside the stems.
- Chemical control -
- Lebaycid 40 EC - 25ml in 10L of water at 2 weeks interval
- Sevin (Carbaryl) - 25ml in 10L of water at 2 weeks interval
- Atabron 5 EC 12 ml in 10L water
Note - Still there is no specific controlling method found to control the attack properly.
Yellowing of leaves and premature death of pseudo stem are visible symptoms. Rhizome and shoot bases turn brown and show rotting appearance. Affected roots become brittle and breakaway very easily with a slight bending of the shoot. To control the disease
- Keep the clump base always clean.
- Uproot and burn the affected plants and rhizomes.
- Improve drainage during the rainy season.
- Application of lime at the rate of 80g per clump followed by application of phosphate after two weeks.
Harvesting and Processing
Cardamom starts to bear at the 3rd year after planting. Cropping season is September to January. Capsules are picked before they are fully ripen and clipped off using scissors. Harvesting is done at 3 to 6 week intervals for around 03 months. Harvested capsules are washed with water to remove dirt and borer attacked capsules. Capsules should be well drained and dip in a 2% solution of sodium carbonate (washing soda) for 10-15 minutes which may help to retain the green color.
Drying is done in hot air barns known as 'Green curing'. Capsules are spread on shallow wire mesh bottomed trays and placed on shelves in the chamber at 45-50oC. Drying process will be over in about 35 - 40 hours in curing chamber. The trays may be racked over and their position interchanged every 10 - 12 hours. After drying, capsules should be rubbed on wire mesh to remove stalks and then should be winnowed. Final product is stored away from strong sunlight and in black polythene sacks to preserve the color.
Dried yield around 60kg /ha. But under good management 250 kg / ha.
Cardamom is graded into following 5 categories according to the SLS 166:7980 standards.
|Lanka light green-1||Slightly light Green||5||340|
|Lanka light green -2||Light Green||6||320|
|Lanka Bleached||Pale buff||8||300|
|Lanka non specified||Off colour||Non specified||360|