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Cardamom Uses Benefits Crop Management and Plantation

CARDAMOM (Elettaria cardamomum Maton) Cardamom Uses Benefits Crop Management and Plantation

Cardamom (Elettaria cardamomum Maton), better known as the Queen of Spices, is a major Oriental spice. It is the dried fruit of a tall perennial herbaceous plant. India is the major producer and exporter of cardamom. About 7,900 tones of cardamom were produced during 1997-98 from an area of 72,444 ha. Till the late seventies, India was enjoying a near monopoly in the world trade of cardamom. But the situation then changed drastically as the share of Indian cardamom in the world trade declined very rapidly. The main competitor is Guatemala. India’s productivity is 149 kg/ha, whereas it is more than 250 kg/ ha, of Guatemala.

The genus Elettaria is one of the few compact and small natural groups of plants whose origin is the evergreen rain forests of Western Ghats of South India and Sri Lanka from where it spread to other tropical countries. Cardamom is at present only in the transition stage from the wild to the cultivated state. It is of very great interest from the point of view of the evolution of cultivated forms of cardamom from the wild ones. The distribution of various eco- geographical population of cardamom seems to form an Acetylcholine. Each of such population seems to be freely inbreeding with itself and these different populations are separated from each other by geographical and ecological barriers. The species Elettaria cardamomum comprises a freely interbreeding population, the genus Elettaria seems to be a ‘cenospecies’, with a single ‘ecospecies’ corresponding to the taxonomic species, Elettaria cardamomum Maton.

The ‘ecospecies’ comprises 2 ecotypes. They are the larger and the smaller cardamom populations. The larger ecotype named as ecotype ‘major’ while the smaller named as ecotype ‘minor’. With the large population of ecotype major there seems to be only one minute local population found segregated in Gandamanayakanur Hills as well as a locality in Mysore, this local population may be named as ecotype major local type ‘laxiflora’.

The ecotype minor could be divided into 3 mini local populations as local types.

They are:

Ecotype minor local type: Travancoria Comprising the cardamom hills of Travancore, Anamalais Coorg and Mysore
Ecotype minor local type: Oblongata District local populations of lower pulneys
Ecotype minor local type: Kanarensis Peculiar local type cultivated in Sirsi, North Kanara

From time immemorial, India is known as the home of cardamom. Until 1800 the world’s supply came from evergreen monsoon forests of the Western Ghats in South India and Sri Lanka. Cardamom was an article of Greek trade during 4th century BC. It was listed among the Indian spices liable to duty at Alexandria in 176 AD. The cultivation of cardamom in India was actively taken up by the erstwhile Travancore Government in 1823 AD. The area under cardamom cultivation during 1997-98 was 72,444 ha, covering Kerala (40,867 ha), Karnataka (25,686 ha) and Tamil Nadu (5,891 ha). Till recently India was the main producer and exporter of this commodity. Of late Guatemala has emerged as a keen competitor to Indian cardamom in the international spice market. Tanzania, Sri Lanka, El Salvador, Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia and Papua New Guinea are other cardamom-growing countries.

 In India, it thrives well in tropical rain forests of Western Ghats. The tracts lie between 8° 30′ and 14° 30′ N latitude and longitude of 75-77o. From North to South, it is an elongated tract extending over 2,000 km, from Sirsi of Karnataka to Tirunelveli of Tamil Nadu. From East to West, it is a narrow belt of land distributed over the Western Ghats at elevation ranging from 600 to 1,500 m above mean sea-level.

Botany Cardamom (Elettaria cardamomum Maton)

Cardamom (Elettaria cardamomum Maton) belongs to natural order Scitaminae under Zingiberaceae family. It is a herbaceous perennial plant (2-5 m in height) having underground (subterranean) rhizomes with aerial pseudostems (tillers) made of leaf sheaths. Its suckers continue their growth for a period of about 18 months from time of emergence. The rate of linear growth is maximum during June and July when suckers attain an age of about one year. The development of reproductive buds (panicles) is noticed in 89 % of them, indicating that suckers require about 10-12 months to attain maturity.

Inflorescence is a long panicle with racemose clusters arising from underground stem, but comes up above the soil. The linear growth of the panicles extends over a period of about 7 months. However, the rate of growth is maximum during April and it is slow in early and later stages. The growth habits of panicles and shape as well as size of capsules vary in different cultivated varieties/types of cardamom.

The flowers are bisexual, bracts linear, oblong and persistent, racemose sepals 3, petals 3, unequal, lip longer with violet carpels 3, style 1, ovary trilocular, axile placentation, ovules numerous in each carpel. Normally flowering in cardamom could be seen throughout the year on panicles produced during the current as well as on panicles produced during the previous year. The peak flowering is spread over a period of 6 months from May to October. The time required reaching full bloom stage from flower/bud initiation range from 26 to 34 days and capsule development takes about 110-220 days from the full bloom stage.

Age of Cardamom Plants in years

Maximum number of flowers opens during early hours of the day followed immediately by the anthesis. Under Mudigere region of Karnataka, flowering commences from 3.30 am and continues till 7.30 am. The dehiscence of anthers takes place immediately followed by anthesis at 3.30 am and continues up to 7.30 am with maximum pollen bursting between 5.30 am and 6.30 am. The pollen grains are round and mostly found in single measured 87.6 on an average. Though apparently 852 % of the pollen grains appear fertile, germination tests showed that the maximum of 70.1 % germination takes place in artificial media containing 20 % sucrose and 1 % sugar solution. Studies on viability of pollen grains indicated that only 65 % of pollen grains remain viable after 2 hours of storage but their viability becomes nill after 6-8 hours of storage. The pollen grains of all the 3 varieties of cardamom are round in shape and appear as a creamy powder. The pollen grains of Mysore type are the largest, whereas of Vazhukka type the smallest.

Though cardamom has bisexual flowers, it is self- compatible. Cross-pollination is the rule, since self-pollination is hindered due to slight protrusion of the stigma above the stamen. In cardamom, cross-pollination is effected by bees (Apis cerana and Apis dorsata) as pollinators. Its flowers remain in bloom for 15-18 hours. The receptivity of stigma and pollen viability is more during morning hours. The receptivity is maximum between 8 am and 10 am during the day. The opened flowers bear about 72 % fruit set. Thereafter, receptivity of stigma decreases gradually resulting in the minimum fruit set (24 %) at 4 pm. The active foraging of bees are seen in the morning hour which helps increase fruit set in cardamom.

The extent of fruit set is high (50-59 %) during June, July, August and September because of the humid atmosphere that prevails during this period. However, during the dry season (December-March), there is practically no fruit set.

Classification of Cardamom (Elettaria cardamomum Maton)

 Based on the size of fruits, 2 types are recognized. They are: Elettaria cardamomum var Major and var Minor. This classification is not widely accepted due to lack of distinct demarcation on size and shape of fruits. Considering the 36 PLANTATION CROPS nature of panicles, 3 cultivars of cardamom Malabar, Mysore and Vazhukka are recognized.

The major differences are given:

Distinguishing characters of cardamom cultivars:

Character Malabar Vazhukka Mysore
Adaptability Lower elevation (900-1200 m AMSL) Higher elevation (900-1200m AMSL) Higher elevation (900-1200 AMSL)
General area of cultivation Karnataka Kerala  
Tolerance to drought Withstand long dry spell Prefer well distributed rain  
Plant stature Dwarf (2-3 m) Tall (3-5 m) Tall (3-5 m)
Leaf petiole Short Long Long
Panicle Prostrate Semi-erect Erect
Bearing nature Early, short span of flowering Late, long flowering span Late, long flowering span
Green Capsule colour at maturity Pale/golden-green Green Green
Distinguishing characters of cardamom
Height of the Cardamom Plant

Morphological Variations in Cardamom Plant

Plant growth Robust/moderate/dwarf
Pseudostem Oblong/lanceolate/ovate
Leaf pubescence Pubescent/puberucent/glabrous
Leaf Breath Narrow
Ligule colour Red tinted green
Cardamom Flowers Or Bulb

Inflorescence

Place of origin Basal/both basal and terminal (Alfred clones) Basal with a few leafy bracts
Panicle type Prostrate/erect/semi-erect
Panicle branching Multi-Branched/compound panicle (distal/entire/proximal)
Panicle Length Long/short panicles
Internodal length Short/long

Capsules Details About Cardamom (Elettaria cardamomum Maton)

Capsules/raceme 2-6
Shape Round/oval/elongate
Size Bold/medium/small
Colour Golden-yellow/pale-green/dark green at maturity

Crop Improvement of Cardamom (Elettaria cardamomum Maton)

Clonal selection:

All the existing improved varieties were evolved by selection of superior plants for desirable characters of higher yield and superior capsule characters. Since cardamom is highly heterozygous, seedlings are not true-to-type to its parent. But clonally-propagate plants are genetically identical to its parents. Selection in cardamom is based on both qualitative and quantitative characters. Selection is made in situ in planters’ field and forests itself and multiplied clonally and then subjected to preliminary evaluation trial and subsequently comparative yield trial and multi-location trial to confirm the adaptability of particular superior clone.

Selections in cardamom are highly location-specific in their agro-ecological requirements. The performance of these selections is much superior to the local clones with regard to yield and capsule characters.

Sources of resistance to cardamom mosaic virus causing katte disease of cardamom were identified by collecting 134 disease escapes from hot spots of virus infection in South India and screening them in greenhouse, sick plot and hot spots. Testing of promising collection in 4 hot spots and also against natural infection confirmed the resistant nature of collections. Preliminary screening of cardamom varieties and improved selections to test the relative tolerance to azhukal disease (Phytophthora meadii) infection revealed that Malabar and Vazhukka varieties are more susceptible than Mysore types.

Stages Of Cardamom From Flowers to Fruits
Stages Of Cardamom From Flowers to Fruits

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Hybridization Cardamom (Elettaria cardamomum Maton)

 Intervarietal Hybridization:

Hybridization with improved cultivars/varieties provides ample scope to combine desirable characters of yield, katte resistance and drought tolerance. Research efforts being made at various institutes have led to the isolation of high-yielding heterotic recombinants. On farm trials of these varieties are in progress some hybrids have been developed.

Hybrids of cardamom developed

Hybrid Projected yield (kg/ha)
MCC 16 x MCC 40 610
MCC 61 x MCC 40 675
MCC 21 x MCC 16 650
MCC 21 x MCC 40 870
MCC 16 x MCC 61 800

A large number of crosses have been made to combine high-yielding ability, resistance to rhizome rot and cardamom mosaic which are currently under evaluation at IISR, Calicut, and Cardamom Research Centre, Appangala. Varying degrees of heterosis ranging from -26.22 to 171.81 for plant height and -42.82 to 177.30 for total number of tillers/plant have been recorded in the pre-bearing stage of cardamom crosses.

Superior hybrids evolved can be multiplied either clonally or through micro propagation to produce a large number of true-to-type planting materials.

 Polycross Breeding:

 Since cardamom is a cross-pollinated crop, Polycross method of breeding is ideal to get better 42 PLANTATION CROPS varieties. Elite clones having predominantly desirable characters are planted in isolated plot. Two to three beehives can also be maintained in the plot for assured pollination so that maximum fruit set as well as number seeds capsule could be obtained. Since parents have superior characters, their progeny might possess a combination of desirable characters.

Intergeneric Hybridization:

Cardamom mosaic disease (katte) caused by a virus results in servere yield losses (up to 68 %). Although a few improved, high – yielding varieties of cardamom are evolved, yield and resistance to cardamom mosaic disease have not been incorporated together. In India, as Elettaria is a monotypic genus, interspecific hybridization is ruled out. In this direction, Intergeneric crosses were made using Ammomum subulatum, Alpinia neutans, Hedychium flavascene and Hedychium coronarium as male parents. Cross with A. neutans set a few fruits and in other cases, no fruit formation was noted. Compatibility barriers prevented formation of fruits in these cross- combinations.

Mutation Breeding:

 Its objective is to develop clones tolerant to cardamom mosaic (katte) virus and drought. Seeds and rhizomes of cardamom were subjected to physical mutagens such as X-rays chemical mutagens, nitrosomethyl urea (NMU), diethyl sulphate (DES) and ethyl methane sulphate (EMS). No desirable mutant could so far be released.

Polyploidy Breeding:

The polyploidy have been induced to develop disease and drought tolerant lines, by treating sprouting seeds of cardamom with 0.5 % aqueous solution of colchicine. The polyploidy lines showed increased layer of epidermal cells, thick cuticle and thicker wax coating on leaves which are the general characters associated with drought tolerance in nature.

Growing Conditions:

Is a shade-loving plant cultivated 600-1,200 m above mean sea-level with an annual rainfall of 1,500- 4,000 mm and a temperature range of 10° C to 350C.? Generally, it is grown in evergreen forests where the surface soil is enriched by the deposition of organic matter due to organic recycling. Clay, loam soils, distinctly acidic rich in organic matter and low in available phosphorus and potassium depicting the characteristics of humid tropical soils are ideal for cardamom cultivation.

Planting Material Production:

Use of poor quality planting material is one of the important reasons for low productivity in cardamom. Though cardamom is propagated both by seeds and rhizomes, suckers free from pest and diseases are better suited for Clonal multiplication of high-yielding selections. Large-scale propagation of cardamom in most of the areas is through seeds. The inherent drawback of this method is production of heterogeneous progeny which is generally not uniform due to natural cross-pollination.

Clonal multiplication:

Which ensures genetically uniform planting material can be resorted either by Clonal multiplication through rhizomes under intensive care in Clonal nursery or through micro propagation by tissue culture under aseptic conditions. Besides, selections/ clones in cardamom are highly location-specific. Under such limitation, Clonal multiplication of elite clumps identified itself provides an easy way out. Moreover, plants raised from rhizomes bear earlier than seedling progeny.

Cardamom roots and bulbs
Cardamom roots and bulbs

Rapid Clonal Multiplication:

A rapid Clonal multiplication technique has been evolved at IISR, Cardamom Research Centre, and Appangala. This technique involves selection of colonal nursery on gentle eastern slope with adequate drainage near to farm pond. Trenches of 45 cm width and 44 PLANTATION CROPS 45 cm depth and convenient length are taken across the slope 1.8 m apart. The top 15 cm depth of soil is excavated and heaped on the upper side of the trenches and lower 30 cm depth of soil is heaped on the lower side of the trench. The soil excavated first at 15 cm depth along with equal proportions of humus-rich forest soil, sand and coffee compost @5 kg/plant is filled layer-wise up to a depth of 2.5 cm and mixed thoroughly by leaving depression of 5 cm at the top to facilitate mulching and retention of soil moisture.

A part of the clump (38-40 planting units), earmarked in the main plantation, and is carefully uprooted without injuring rhizomes. After trimming roots, suckers are separated. The minimum planting unit consists of a grown-up tiller along with a growing young shoot. The planting units are placed at a spacing of 1.8 m x 0.6 m in trenches. The top of the longest tiller is trimmed. The rhizomes are treated for 5 minutes with Immersed with (ethyl mercury chloride mixture, 0.2 %) . An overhead pandal is erected at a height of 4 m and covered with locally available silver oak tings to allow 50 % filtered sunlight. Regular plant protection measures are taken to control thrips, borers and shoot flies.

 Within a span of 10 months, the rate of multiplication is to the tune of 1:20, the cost per planting unit being Re 1.11 only. This method of Clonal multiplication of cardamom is simple, reliable and economically feasible for production of quality planting material.

Propagation by Seeds:

 To get quality seedlings, nursery should be managed scientifically. As far as seed selection is concerned, it is always desirable to watch the continued performance of selected individual mother plant, before the final selection. Storing seeds for a long time results in considerable loss of their viability and delay in germination. Hence, fresh seeds extracted should be sown immediately. Time of sowing varies according to place. The best time for germination is September (79.8 %).

Cardamom seeds possess a hard seed coat which delay their germination treating freshly extracted seeds with 20 % nitric acid for 10 minutes enhances their germination. It is always advantageous to select nursery site on gentle slopes having an easy access to perennial sources of water soaking soil in the seed bed to a depth of 15 cm with 1:15 formaldehyde solution is effective in controlling damping off disease of seedlings. Among various mulches used paddy straw or Phyllanthes emblica leaves are suitable for better germination.

There are 2 stages in nursery, viz. primary and secondary nursery. The seedlings are transplanted into secondary nursery when they attain 4-5 leaves stage. Transplanting of seedlings in the secondary nursery is carried out in December or January in Karnataka and in May-June in Kerala. In Karnataka,10 months. Old seedlings are trans- planted, whereas in Kerala 18-22 month old seedlings are used for transplanting.

Field Planting:

The field should be prepared systematically. For planting in a new area, ground should be cleared or if it is replanting area, old plants should be removed. The initial work consists of thinning out excess shade tree branches to have an evenly thick overhead canopy. If land is sloppy, it is advisable to start clearing from top and work downwards. The plant-to-plant spacing should be based on variety and time indented (longevity) of the crop, if it is grown on a limited short cycle. With regular replanting, it is desirable to plant as closely as possible. For Mysore and Vazhukka cultivars, plant-to-plant distance should be 3 m x 3 m or 2.4 m x 2.4 m for high rainfall or irrigated areas. A spacing of 1.8 m x 1.8 m or 1.2 m x 1.8 m is suitable in Karnataka. Cardamom can be planted at a spacing of 2.0 m x 1.0 m on hill slopes along the contour and 2.0 m x 2.0 m in flat lands.

Planting of Cardamom (Elettaria cardamomum Maton):

 In slopy areas, soil should be protected from erosion due to rains for which planting should be taken up in terraces. Terraces should be made across the slope at required distances depending on the spacing adopted. Almost 8-15 cm deep top soil should be removed before making terraces and kept aside which can be used for pit filling. The width of terraces should be 1.5-1.8 m. Pits of 90 cm x 90 cm x 45 cm size are prepared before monsoon. About one-third of the pit should be filled with top soil and one-third with 1.3 mixtures of organic manure and top soil. In low rainfall areas, trenches of size 75 cm width and 30 cm depth may be taken and plants may be planted at a spacing of 1-1.5 m. Trench system of planting is quite advantageous in areas with moderate slope and adequate drainage The trench system retains high moisture followed by pit system.

 Planting can be done when soil is moist. Cloudy days with light drizzling are ideal for planting. Deep planting should be avoided as it suppresses growth of new shoots. The plant should be supported by staking to prevent damage due to wind after planting. The base of the plant should be mulched with dried fallen leaves of shaded trees.

Season of Planting:

Planting in rainy season commencing from June is ideal on steep moderate slopes where the rain water is well-drained. Early planting gets assured and distributed rains in South-West monsoon resulting in better establishment and growth. The ideal time for planting in low-lying areas is after the cessation of heavy monsoon showers.

Mulching:

Cardamom in India is grown largely as a rain- fed crop. It cannot withstand the drought conditions for a long period. The pre-monsoon showers have become erratic in recent years, thus plants face dry spell for 4-5 months. Mulching is an ideal solution for conserving soil moisture. It has been acclaimed as the best cultural operation for overall improvement of soil and yield in cardamom.

Weed Control:

Since cardamom is a surface feeder, in the first year of planting, frequent weeding is necessary to avoid competition between young seedlings and weeds. As many as 21 dicotyledonous weeds have been identified as affecting cardamom estates. Depending on the density of weeds, 2-3 rounds of weeding in a year is necessary. Since manual weeding is difficult in large cardamom plantations, spraying of paraquat (625 ml in 500 liters of water for a hectare) in the interspaces between rows leaving 60 cm around the plant base, is quite effective.

Trashing:

It consists of removing old and dry shoots of cardamom plants. Trashing facilitates receipt of adequate sunlight, aeration, reducing infestation of thrips and aphids, resulting in overall build-up and growth of plants. It also helps in the pollination by honey bees and formation of green capsules. This operation may be carried out 2-3 times in a year. The trashed material can also be used as mulch.

Raking / digging:

Towards the end of the monsoon rains, light raking or soil digging may be carried out around the plants. Digging should be done in one-year-old plantations which facilitate better root development. However, deep digging should be strictly avoided.

Light earthing-up:

The rich humus top soil around the plant to a distance of 75 cm may be scraped and applied as a thin layer to the base of the clumps. It forms the soil mulch and covers the crop roots and rhizomes. This practice not only keeps the roots well covered with soil but also checks the walking habit (radial growth) of cardamom effectively.

Shade Regulation:

Sufficient shade should be maintained in plantations to protect the plants from scorching sun. Too much of shade causes over-tillering, lanky growth of tillers and consequently poor yield. Continued denudation of the forest during recent years is exposing the plants to scorching sun, affecting the yield adversely. Thus, medium to high light intensity (45-65 %) is ideal for better growth and yield.

For providing adequate light during rainy season, when the intensity of light is less, it is necessary to carry out shade regulation before the onset of monsoon. Trees having well-distributed branching habit and small leaves are ideal for cardamom. Balangi (Acrocarpus fraxinifollins) and red cedar (Cedrella toona) can build up quick shade. They are also self-regulating wherein they shed leaves in monsoon and put up new flush of leaves from December/ January.

Nutrient Management For Cardamom (Elettaria cardamomum Maton):

 In earlier days, cardamom was found to grow in the forest in rich fertile soil of a natural ecosystem. As importance of cardamom was increasingly felt in international trade, its cultivation was taken up on an organized basis. Up to mid-fifties, cardamom was cultivated without or with little application of organic manures. Although cardamom responds favorably to manures and fertilizes, it is not regularly applied by all the growers.

With the establishment of research centers on cardamom in early sixties, several fertilizer trials were initiated to work out the response and requirement of balanced fertilizers, to increase yields. Cardamom responds favorably to both organic and inorganic manures.

In general, 30 kg N, 30 kg P2O5 and 60 kg K2O/ha is necessary for healthy and vigorous growth. Based on further nutritional studies, a fertilizer dose of 75:75:150 kg NPK/ha is recommended to get a yield of 100 kg dry capsules/ha. To get more yields, the fertilizer dose should be increased proportionately. Additional fertilizer doses of 0.65 kg N, 0.65 kg P and 1.3 kg K/ha is to be applied for every increase in yield of 2.5 kg of capsules over the normal yield. Urea is a better source of nitrogenous fertilizer compared to ammonium sulphate. Liming corrects soil acidity and enhances rate of nitrification, resulting in CARDAMOM 49 better growth. The Spices Board of India recommends 75:75:150 kg and 125:125:250 kg NPK/ha for rain-fed and irrigated areas respectively. As cardamom is still cultivated f soil moisture for efficient absorption and utilization of applied nutrients is quite imperative. Trench method of planting is significantly superior to pit method of planting. Application of 120:120:240 kg NPK/ha which recorded dry cardamom yield of 367.49 kg/ha and 160:160:320 kg NPK/ha (390.44 kg/ha) respectively were on a par in trench system of planting. Hence, a fertilizer dose of 120:120:240 kg NPK/ha accommodating a high density of 5,000 plants/ ha is recommended.

Micronutrients:

The zinc deficiency is widespread in cardamom soils. Application of 500 or 750 ppm of zinc as foliar application enhances yield and quality of cardamom. Zinc may be applied as a foliar spray as zinc sulphate. Iron and copper are not deficient in soils growing cardamom. Boron may have antagonistic effect over zinc if applied together on cardamom.

Irrigation:

 Judicious irrigation during summer ensures increase in yield by at least 50%. Irrigation is required generally from February to April but at times from January to May depending upon rainfall. But in Tamil Nadu, where the south-west monsoon is not very effective, irrigation during March-August is advisable. Cardamom plants irrigated at 75 % available soil moisture give better yields. As Cardamom is mainly cultivated on undulating topography of hills and hill slopes, overhead (sprinkler) method of irrigation is the most suited. The sprinkler irrigation method of applying water equivalent to 35-45 mm rain at fortnightly interval is recommended under average conditions. In drip irrigation, water @4-6 liters/clump/day may be given.

Cropping Systems:

 Plantation and spice crops, committed to land for several decades, are cultivated mostly in tropics and subtropics which have an equitable climate with plentiful precipitation and sunshine. These conditions favour plant growth round the year in evergreen forests. There is a available land for effective utilization of horizontal and vertical space and solar energy to get maximum returns per unit time farm-level income and to withstand sharp fluctuation in rice structure and employment opportunities on such small holdings is to adopt mixed cropping by growing compatible, high-value, perennial crops in interspaces.

Cardamom, a shade-loving plant, is the most eco- friendly plantation crop. It offers a great scope as a mixed crop in coffee plantations in the tropical forests, areca nut and coconut which provide an overhead shade, most essential for survival and better productivity of cardamom in the high ranges of Western Ghats in India.

Cultivating cardamom with coffee, black pepper and areca nut and coconut has better impact on enhancing the overlay! Productivity of the crop combination. Integrated input management in these crop combinations results in an efficient utilization of various cash inputs. Some of the combined cultural operations followed in the crop combinations also brought down total cost of cultivation. Mixed cropping of coffee, areca nut and coconut is more beneficial than cultivating sole crop, generating additional gainful employment.

Harvesting and Post-harvest Management System of Cardamom (Elettaria cardamomum Maton):

Although quality of produce is decided in every stage of its production, utmost care is needed on the maturity stage and time of harvesting and pre-drying treatment by adopting proper curing methods. In most of the areas, peak harvesting time is October-November. Picking is carried out at 15 days intervals and completed in 7-8 rounds. The stage of harvesting has direct relationship on recovery of cardamom. The recovery is the highest (29 %) in fully ripen capsules, followed by those harvested at physiological maturity (24 %) and immature (14 %) stage.

Dried cardamom/cured cardamom, bleached C, decorticated seeds and seed powder, cardamom volatile oil, and oleoresin are-end-products of cardamom. Cardamom is used for domestic culinary or ground form the world over. In Arab countries, it is traditionally used for flavoring coffee. In the Middle East, it is used for flavoring a range of baked goods, including cakes, pastries and bread. In other European countries and in North America, the spice is used mainly in ground form by food industries as an ingredient in curry powder, sausage products, soups, canned fish and to a small extent in flavoring of tobacco. Cardamom cola and instant gahua, carbonated gahua, biscuits, Danish pastries, toffees, and encapsulated cardamom oil are other new products of cardamom. The Arabs use it in coffee; the Americans in baked food; the Russians in pastries, cakes and confectionery; the Japanese in curry, ham and sausage; the Germans in curry powders, sausages and processed meats and so on in countless other dishes. Indian cardamom is low in fat and high in protein, iron, vitamins B and C.

Uses of Cardamom:

The main application of essential oil is to flavor processed foods, but it is also used in certain liquid products such as cordials, bitters and liqueurs and occasionally in perfumery. Cardamom oleoresin has similar application as of essential oil in flavoring of processed foods but is less extensively used.

It is very common to use tinctures of cardamom in medicines for windiness or stomachic. Powdered cardamom seeds are invariably mixed with ground ginger cloves and caraway and used mainly for combating digestive ailments. It is used as a powerful pleasant aromatic stimulant, carminative, stomachic and diuretic. Use of cardamom checks nausea and vomiting. In present day stress-prone population, cardamom is used invariably as a cardiac stimulant. Cardamom seeds are chewed to prevent unpleasant smell in mouth, indigestion, nausea, vomiting and to prevent pyrosis.

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