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Organic cultivation of Ginger

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Ginger is cultivated in many states in India. Dry ginger has good demand abroad especially in the Middle East markets. India is the largest exporter of dry ginger.
Ginger is a tropical crop adapted for cultivation even in regions of subtropical climate such as the high ranges. This crop thrives best in well drained friable loamy soils rich in humus. Being an exhaustive crop, it may not be desirable to grow ginger in the same field year after year. Therefore, it is essential to convert the whole farm as organic with ginger as one of the crops in rotation. The crop cannot withstand water logging and hence soils with good drainage are preferred for its cultivation. In order to cultivate ginger organically an isolation distance of 25m wide is to be left on all around from the conventional farm. The produce from this isolation belt shall not be treated as organic. Being an annual crop, the conversion period required will be two years. Ginger can be cultivated organically as an inter or mixed crop provided all the other crops are grown following organic methods. It is desirable to include a leguminous crop in rotation with ginger. Ginger-banana-legume or ginger-vegetable-legume can be adopted.

Sources of planting material

Carefully preserved seed rhizomes free from pests and diseases, which are collected from organically cultivated farms can be used for planting. However, to begin with seed material from high yielding local varieties may be used in the absence of organically produced seed. Seed rhizomes should not be treated with any chemicals.

Preparation of land and planting

While preparing the land, minimum tillage operations may be adopted. Beds of 15 cm height, 1 m width and of convenient length may be prepared giving at least 50 cm spacing between beds. Solarisation of the beds is beneficial in checking the multipli­cation of pest and disease causing organisms. The polythene sheets used for soil solarisation should be kept away safely after the work is completed.
At the time of planting, apply 25 g powdered neem cake and mix well with the soil in each pit taken at a spacing of 20-25 cm within and between rows. Seed rhizomes may be put in shallow pits and mixed with well rotten cattle manure or compost mixed with Trichoderma (10 g compost inoculated with Trichoderma).

Cultural practices

Mulching the ginger beds with green leaves is an essential operation to enhance germination of seed rhizomes and to prevent washing off soil due to heavy rain. This also helps to add organic matter to the soil and conserve moisture during the later part of the cropping season. The first mulching is to be done with green leaves @ 10 - 12 t/ha at the time of planting. It is to be repeated @ 5 t/ha at 40th and 90th day after planting. Use of Lantana camara and Vitex negundo as mulch may reduce the infestation of shoot borer. Cow dung slurry or liquid manure may be poured on the bed after each mulching to enhance microbial activity and nutrient availability. Weeding may be carried out depending on the intensity of weed growth. Such materials may be used for mulching. Proper drainage channels are to be provided in the inter rows to drain off stagnant water.


Application of well rotten cow dung or compost @ 5-6 t/ha may be made as a basal dose while planting the rhizomes in the pits. Enriched compost giving a start to phosphorus and potassium requirements may be highly useful. In addition, application of neem cake @ 2 t/ha is also desirable.

Plant protection


Soft rot or rhizome rot caused by Pythium aphanidermatum is a major disease of ginger. While selecting the area for ginger cultivation care should be taken to see that the area is well drained as water stagnation pre-disposes the plants to infection. Hence provide adequate drainage. Select seed rhizomes from disease free areas since this disease is also seed borne. Solarisation of soil done at the time of bed preparation can reduce the fungus inoculum. However, if the disease is noticed, the affected clumps are to be removed carefully along with the soil surrounding the rhizome to reduce the spread. Trichoderma may be applied at the time of planting and subsequently if necessary. Restricted use of Bordeaux mixture (1 %) in disease prone areas may be made to control it.
The bacterial wilt caused by Pseudomonas solanacearum can be managed by treating the seed rhizomes with streptocycline (200 ppm) for 30 minutes and shade drying before planting. In case the disease is noticed in the field, a uniform drenching of all the beds with Bordeaux mixture (1 %) may be made.
Regular field surveillance and adoption of phytosanitary measures are necessary for pest management. The shoot borer Conogethes punctiferalis is the most important pest of ginger. It appears during July-October. period. Spot out the shoots infested by the borer. Cut open the shoot and pick out the caterpillar and destroy. Spray neem oil (O.5%) at fortnightly intervals if found necessary. Light traps will be useful in attracting and collecting the adult moths.

Harvesting and post harvest operations

The crop is ready to harvest in about eight to ten months depending upon the maturity of the variety. When fully mature leaves turn yellow and start drying up gradually. Clumps are lifted carefully with a spade or digging fork and rhizomes are separated from dried leaves, roots and adhering soil. The average yield of fresh ginger per hectare varies with varieties ranging from 15 to 25 tonnes.
For making vegetable ginger, harvesting is done from the 6th month onwards. The rhizomes are thoroughly washed in water twice or thrice after harvest and sun-dried for a day.
For preparing dry ginger the produce is kept soaked in water overnight. Rhizomes are then rubbed well to clean them. After cleaning, rhizomes are removed from the water and the outer skin is removed with a bamboo splinter or wooden knife having pointed ends. Iron knife is not recommended, as colour will be faded. In order to get rid of the last bit of the skin or dirt, the dry rhizomes are rubbed together. The peeled rhizomes are washed and dried in the sun uniformly for one week. Rhizomes are to be dried to a moisture level of 11 % and they are stored properly to avoid infestation by storage pests. Storage of dry ginger for longer periods is not desirable. The yield of dry ginger is 16-25 per cent of the fresh ginger depending upon the variety and location where the crop is grown. Burning of sulphur for processing ginger is not allowed.

Preservation of seed rhizomes

The rhizomes to be used as seed material should be preserved carefully. The indigenous practices like spreading layers of leaves of Glycosmis pentaphylla called in Malayalam 'panal' being followed by farmers can very well be adopted for this purpose. In order to get good germination, the seed rhizomes are to be stored properly in pits under shade. For seed materials, big and healthy rhizomes from disease-free plants are selected immediately after harvest. For this purpose, healthy and disease-free clumps are marked in the field when the crop is 6-8 months old and still green. Seed rhizomes are stored in pits of convenient size made inside the shed to protect from the sun and rain. Walls of the pits may be coated with cow dung paste. Seed rhizomes are stored in these pits in layers along with well dried sand or saw dust (i.e. put one layer of seed rhizomes, then put 2 cm thick layer of sand or saw dust). Sufficient gap is to be left at the top of the pits for adequate aeration. The pits can be covered with wooden plank with one or two small holes for aeration. Seed rhizomes in pits need inspection once in twenty days to remove shriveled and disease affected rhizomes. Seed rhizomes can also be stored in pits dug in the ground under the shade of a tree provided there is no chance for water to enter the pits. In some areas, the rhizomes are loosely heaped over a layer of sand or paddy husk and covered with dry leaves in a thatched shed.


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GINGER (Zingiber officinale)

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Ginger is a biennial or perennial reed-like herb, grown for the pungent, spicy underground stems or rhizomes. The stems reach a height of 3 feet, with lanceolate, smooth leaves up to 8 inches long. The plants are propagated by small divisions of the rhizomes.Ginger is a tropical plant adapted for cultivation even in regions of subtropical climate such as the high ranges. It prefers a rich soil with high humus content. Being an exhausting crop, ginger is not cultivated continuously in the same field but shifting cultivation is practised. The crop cannot withstand waterlogging and hence soils with good drainage are preferred for its cultivation. It is shade tolerant / loving crop with shallow roots and therefore suitable for intercropping and as a component in the homesteads where low to medium shade is available.


Planting material

Ginger rhizomes are used for planting. For selection and preservation of seeds, adopt the following methods:

Mark healthy and disease free plants in the field when the crop is 6-8 months old and still green. Select best rhizomes free from pest and disease from the marked plants. Handle seed rhizomes carefully to avoid damage to buds. Soak the selected rhizomes for 30 minutes in a solution of mancozeb and malathion to give terminal concentration of 0.3% for the former and 0.1% for the latter. Dry the treated rhizomes in shade by spreading on the floor. Store the treated rhizomes in pits dug under shade, the floor of which is lined with sand or saw dust. It is advisable to spread layers of leaves of Glycosmis pentaphylla (panal). Cover the pits with coconut fronds.

Examine the stored rhizomes at monthly intervals and remove the rhizomes that show signs of rotting. This will help to keep the inoculum level low. Provide one or two holes for better aeration. Treat the seed rhizomes similarly before planting also.


Dry ginger: Maran, Wayanad, Manantoddy, Himachal, Valluvanad, Kuruppampady, IISR-Varada, IISR-Rejatha and IISR-Mahima

Green ginger: Rio-De-Janeiro, China, Wayanad Local and Tafengiya

Rio-De-Janeiro is preferable for extraction of oleoresin


Preparation of land
Clear the field during February-March and burn the weeds, stubbles, roots etc. in situ. Prepare the land by ploughing or digging. Prepare beds of convenient length (across the slope where the land is undulating), 1 m wide, 25 cm high with 40 cm spacing between the beds. Provide drainage channels, one for every 25 beds on flat lands.
Season and method of planting
The best time for planting ginger is during the first fortnight of April, after receipt of pre-monsoon showers. For irrigated ginger, the best-suited time for planting is middle of February (for vegetable ginger).

Plant rhizome bits of 15 g weight in small pits at a spacing of 20 x 20 cm to 25 x 25 cm and at a depth of 4-5 cm with at least one viable healthy bud facing upwards. Adopt a seed rate of 1500 kg/ha.
Immediately after planting, mulch the beds thickly with green leaves @ 15 t/ha. Repeat mulching with green leaves twice @ 7.5 t/ha first 44-60 days and second 90-120 days after planting. Grow green manure crops like daincha and sunn hemp in the interspaces of beds, along with ginger and harvest the green manure crop during second mulching of ginger beds.




Apply manures and fertilizers at the following rates.


30 t/ha


75:50:50: kg/ha/year

Full dose of P2O5 and 50% of K2O may be applied as basal. Half the quantity of N may be applied 60 days after planting. The remaining quantity of N and K2O may be applied 120 days after planting.


Remove weeds by hand-weeding before each mulching. Repeat weeding according to weed growth during the fifth and sixth month after planting. Earth up the crop during the first mulching and avoid water stagnation.


Plant protection
1. For control of shoot borer spray dimethoate or quinalphos at 0.05%
2. For control of rhizome rot adopt the following measures:
a. Select sites having proper drainage.
b. Select seed rhizomes from disease free areas.
c. Treat seed rhizomes with 0.3% mancozeb.
d. When incidence of rhizome rot is noted in the field, dig out the affected plants and drench the beds with cheshunt compound or 1% Bordeaux mixture or 0.3% mancozeb.
e. Inoculation with native arbuscular mycorrhiza, Trichoderma and Pseudomonas fluorescens at the time of planting is recommended as a biocontrol measure.
3. For controlling the leaf spot disease, 1% Bordeaux mixture, 0.3% mancozeb or 0.2% thiram may be sprayed.
4. For control of nematode in endemic area, apply neem cake @ 1 t/ha at planting and carbofuran 1 kg ai/ha at 45 DAP.


Harvesting and processing
For vegetable ginger, the crop can be harvested from sixth month onwards. For dry ginger, harvest the crop between 245-260 days. After harvest, the fibrous roots attached to the rhizomes are trimmed off and soil is removed by washing. Rhizomes are soaked in water overnight and then cleaned. The skin is removed by scrapping with sharp bamboo splits or such other materials. Never use metallic substances since they will discolour the rhizomes. After scrapping, the rhizomes are sun-dried for a week with frequent turnings. They are again well rubbed by hand to remove any outer skin. This is the unbleached ginger of commerce. The peeled rhizomes are repeatedly immersed in lime solution (2%) and allowed to dry in the sun for 10 days while rhizomes receive a uniform coating of lime. This is the bleached ginger of commerce.

Ginger oil
Ginger oil is prepared commercially by steam distillation of dried powdered ginger. The yield of oil varies from 1.3 to 3.0 per cent. The major use of ginger oil is as a flavouring agent for beverages, both alcoholic and non-alcoholic.

Ginger oleoresin
Oleoresin from ginger is obtained conventionally by extraction of dried powdered ginger with organic solvents like ethyl acetate, ethanol or acetone. Commercial dried ginger yields 3.5-10.0 per cent oleoresin. Ginger oleoresin is a dark brown viscous liquid responsible for the flavour and pungency of the spice.


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