Drought-tolerant, high-yielding cinnamon
By Our Agriculture Correspondent
The improved cinnamon variety has pungency, sweetness and high oil content in both the bark and the leaves.
SCIENTISTS AT the Horticultural Research Station (HRS), Pechiparai, Kanyakumari district, have developed a high yielding and drought-tolerant cinnamon (Cinnamomum verum). This improved variety has been released for commercial cultivation by the farmers by the Tamil Nadu Agricultural University, Coimbatore, as `Cinnamon-PPI (C) 1'.
The improved variety is a selection from the germplasm of open pollinated seedlings maintained at the HRS.
The parental line was introduced from the Indian Institute for Spices Research (IISR), Calicut. It is resistant to pests and diseases, and has good regeneration capacity. It is suitable for coppicing at an interval of 18-24 months, according to the scientists at the HRS.
It is suitable for cultivation in the high rainfall zone and lower elevations of Tamil Nadu at an elevation ranging between 100 and 500 metres above sea level. It can tolerate a wide range of soils and climatic conditions. Growing to a mean height of 6 m at the time of first coppicing, four years after planting, this variety should, however, be maintained at 2-3 m height by repeated coppicing once in 18-24 months. After coppicing, the tree has the capacity of sprouting with an average of 32 sprouts.
Its young flush is purple, and it turns pale green in 4-7 days. The bark is dark green in the initial years, and it turns to brown upon maturity. It lends itself for the first harvest after four years of planting, and the subsequent harvests can be had once every 18-24 months. The bark can be extracted during September, when there is adequate moisture in the soil. The plants are perennial and upon maturity of the bark as indicated by the brown colour, it is peeled off. The trees can be maintained for economic yields for up to 50 years.
The plants are hardy, and can be grown as rain fed crop in the hill slopes at 100 to 500 m elevation with a mean annual rainfall of 100-150 cm.
A spacing of 3 m x 3 m is recommended for getting good yields. Its bark is sweet and pungent and contains volatile oil. The volatile oil content is 2.9 per cent in the bark and 3.3 per cent in leaves. The plants have a yield potential of 980 kg bark per hectare (248.2 kg quills and 731.58 kg of chips and dust) once in 18-24 months. The bark recovery is 34.65 per cent.
Serious pests and diseases do not affect the new variety of cinnamon. Incidence of wilt is seldom noticed, and it can easily be managed by using simple eco-friendly techniques. Leaf-eating caterpillars are often noticed during the new flush periods, and spraying with suitable botanical insecticide can control it.
Endowed with pungency, sweetness and high oil content in both the bark and the leaves, the new variety has been found preferred by the consumers, and it is bound to fetch higher returns to the growers as well.
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