Nutmeg Farming – Introduction
Nutmeg is an important spice among several other spices. The nutmeg is thought to have been originated in Indonesia. Through trade routes, the nutmeg plant found its way too many other countries over time. The nutmeg tree also yields mace- another important spice crop apart from nutmeg.
The nutmeg is a popular spice which is used for many purposes. It was thought to have some medicinal value. Though, today nutmeg is exclusively used for culinary preparations. It is used to flavor many dishes and beverages. The taste of nutmeg is somewhat sweet and it has a pungent smell like most of the spices. There are many other preparations which are made from the fruit itself. It is equally popular as the dried and powdered spice itself.
The nutmeg has a huge demand worldwide. Therefore, if it is cultivated properly, it can give huge benefits. Modern tools and implements must be used for nutmeg cultivation so as to increase the yield and reduce crop loss. The nutmeg tree takes a lot of time to start commercial production but the wait is worth it since the profits derived are also good. Also, the tree continues to give production for a longer time.
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Scientific Name of Nutmeg: Myristica fragrans
Top Nutmeg Producing Countries In The World
|Rank||Area||Production (Int $1000)||Production (MT)|
|5||Lao People’s Democratic Republic||8,274||3,974|
|7||United Republic of Tanzania||1,413||679|
Name Of Nutmeg In Other Languages
|Language||Ways to say nutmeg|
|Chinese Simplified||肉豆蔻(ròu dòukòu)|
|Chinese Traditional||肉荳蔻(ròu dòukòu)|
|Vietnamese||Hạt nhục đậu khấu|
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Different Varieties Of Nutmeg For Cultivation
The nutmeg tree is native to many countries but with time many improved varieties have been developed. Some of the improved varieties which are commonly cultivated are:
The yield of the tree is good. It produces about 10,000 fruits in a year. The fruit is small in size but heavy. The mace is normal reddish in color.
The nutmegs in the variety are of medium to large size. The mace has a normal red color and is thick.
This variety of nutmeg variety produces nuts which are larger in size and are dense. The yield of this variety of nutmeg is average for a year.
This variety is mainly designed for cultivation in the Konkan It is a high yielding variety which is also resistant to certain pests and diseases. The essential oil yield is about 40 percent.
This is also a high yielding variety of nutmeg. The mace has a deep red color and the seeds have a bold black color. The yield of essential oil is quite low at only seven percent. This variety is slightly tolerant to fruit rot.
The tree of this variety is a dwarf tree. The tree bears large sized fruits. The quality of mace is much superior compared to other varieties. This variety was made by a selection among the various seedlings of the nutmeg plant.
This is a high yielding variety of nutmeg. The plants bear regular nutmeg and the size is also average. The tree bears bisexual flowers. The fruits are borne in abundant.
Cultivation Of Nutmeg
Nutmeg cultivation requires the proper cultivation techniques and methods for a good yield. The variety must be selected based on the area where the cultivation is to be done.
Soil Conditions For Nutmeg Farming
Clay loam, lateritic or red soils can also be used for cultivation of nutmeg. Soils with good drainage facilities are well suited for the cultivation of nutmeg. The ph of the soil must be close to neutral. Too acidic or too alkaline soils are not good for the growth of nutmeg plants. For cultivating nutmeg, the soil must be used which has a good water retention capacity. Deep soil with a good amount of organic nutrients in it is best suited for the cultivation of nutmeg plants.
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Climatic Conditions For Nutmeg Farming
Humid locations are better suited for the cultivation of nutmeg. Regions which are higher than sea level up to 1000m are suitable for growing nutmeg. Basically, nutmeg is a crop of the tropical climate. However, too much heat and sunlight can be harmful to the growth of nutmeg plants. An annual rainfall above 150cm is a requirement for nutmeg cultivation. A pleasant climate with average rainfall and moderate humidity is all that is needed to cultivate nutmeg.
Land Preparation For Nutmeg Farming
For cultivation of nutmeg, the land is cleared of any materials from previous cultivation. Before that, a proper site has to be selected for the cultivation. the land must be thoroughly ploughed and harrowed to make a fine texture of the soil. Proper seed beds or ridges and furrows have to be made in the field for planting purposes. After that, proper quantities of farmyard manure have to be mixed with soil for enhancing its fertility.
Propagation And Planting Season For Nutmeg Farming
Usually, June-December is the time when the planting for nutmeg is done. The season may vary according to the climate, soil conditions and the method of propagation used. The nutmeg can be propagated using seeds. For that healthy and disease free seeds must be selected for planting purposes. Seeds must be collected from a good parent plant having superior characteristics. The seeds must be sown immediately after extraction. Before sowing, the flesh and mace are to be removed. The seeds get germinated within 30-90 days after sowing the seed. After germination, the seedlings are sowed to polythene bags that contain a mixture of manure, soil, and sand. They are regularly watered and taken care of. When the seedlings have grown 18-24 months old, they are shifted to the main field.
Grafting and budding is also a common method of propagation for nutmeg plants. Usually, the grafted and budded plants yield fruits faster than the ones which are raised from seedlings. The orthotropic shoots are only used as scion materials for vegetative propagation. The best time to conduct vegetative propagation method is October to January.
Planting Method For Nutmeg Farming
The nutmeg seedlings are transplanted in the main field when it is 18-24 months old. For planting the seedlings, pits having a dimension of 60cm*60cm*60cm are dug out in the main field. A spacing of 8m*8m is maintained in the nutmeg field while planting. The nutmeg plant also requires shade while growing. Therefore plants providing shade must be planted in the main field beforehand. These plants may later be thinned as the nutmeg plants grow. The seedlings are placed in the middle of the pits and covered with soil and manure. A light irrigation must follow after planting the seedlings.
Irrigation Methods For Nutmeg Farming
During summer, irrigation every 4-5 days is sufficient for the nutmeg crop. In dry months the frequency of irrigation has to be increased. The soil must always be checked for moisture. Water must be provided according to the requirement of the crop. In case of heavy rains, over flooding might pose a risk to the growing crops. Therefore, proper drainage channels must be present in the field to drain away the excess water. Irrigation after fertilizer application is necessary. Irrigation during the flowering and fruit formation stage is also very necessary. During the winter, the frequency of irrigation must be reduced but not stopped completely. Irrigation in winter protects the plants from the harsh weather.
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Manure And Fertiliser Application For Nutmeg Farming
Appropriate quantities of farmyard manure or organic fertilizer must be applied at the time of planting. After that, the macronutrients must be applied in split doses. For the application of fertilizers or manures, trenches are dug surrounding the radius of the plant at a distance of 1-1.5m. After applying the fertilizers, the trench is t be covered with soil. the initial dose of fertilizers must be gradually increased each year till the trees are fully matured. Along with macronutrients, several micronutrients must also be applied so that the plants do not suffer a deficiency. A balance between the organic fertilizers and chemical fertilizer must be maintained to keep the soil quality at its peak.
Intercultural Method For Nutmeg Farming
The nutmeg plants need constant care when young. For weed removal, a combination of cultural, manual and chemical methods may be used which will give effective results. Proper weed removal at regular intervals of time is necessary as weed infestation competes with the main plant for nutrition. The young plants also need shade. Therefore, cover plants may be used for providing shade to the seedlings in the main field.
The nutmeg is usually grown as an intercrop with areca nut and coconut. The intercropping is beneficial to the main crop and is also good for earning extra income for the business.
Disease And Pest Control Of Nutmeg Cultivation
The nutmeg crop is not severely affected by any serious diseases or pests. One can also use high yielding varieties to face lesser problems regarding diseases and pest attack of nutmeg. Some of the commonly known pest and diseases of nutmeg and their control measures are as follows:
- Dieback- application of Bordeaux mixture on the affected part.
- Fruit rot- Bordeaux mixture application on immature fruits.
- Thread blight- Bordeaux mixture spray
Yield Of Nutmeg
If proper farm management techniques are followed, a full-grown tree can produce up to 2000-3000 fruits per year. The yield also varies and is different for different varieties.
The nutmeg trees start producing fruits commercially after 15-20 years. The seedling trees will start bearing fruit after 6-8 years. On the other hand, the trees obtained through vegetative propagation start bearing fruits at a younger age when they are 4-5 years old. The nutmeg fruit takes about nine months to form after flowering. Although the flowering and fruiting take place all around the year, the best season for fruiting is June-August. During this time, the fruits are produced in abundance.
The nutmeg is ready to harvest when the fruits become fully ripen and the flesh starts to crack open. They can be collected from the tree itself or can be picked when they fall on the ground.
Post-Harvest Management And Marketing Of Nutmeg
Immediately after harvest, the fruits are collected together. The flesh from the fruits is collected and separated. The mace covering the seeds is separated and dries for sale. The nutmeg seeds are dried for several days until the seeds inside them are completely dry. Then the outer shell is broken and seeds are extracted and stored under controlled conditions.
For marketing, the nutmeg can be sold loose as seeds or packaged. The seeds can also be ground to powder form and sold in the market. Since nutmeg as a spice has a huge demand worldwide, it can be properly packed for selling overseas.
Benefits Of Nutmeg
- Nutmeg contains some very important minerals which can reduce the blood pressure and promote the healthy flow of blood in the body.
- Nutmeg is rich in iron. Thus it can help to cure the iron deficiency in the body and enhance production of red blood cells thus helping to improve blood problems in the body.
- Nutmeg can provide relief from pain such as arthritic pain or pain caused due to any other problems such as injury or sprain.
- Nutmeg is also beneficial for curing oral problems. it provides effective relief from bad breath.
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Nutmeg Farming – Conclusion
Nutmeg is a very popular flavoring spice which has a very good demand in the international market. Hence, proper cultivation of this essential spice can surely bring a lot of profit and make the business very successful.