Turmeric (Curcuma longa) (Family: Zingiberaceae) is used as condiment, dye, drug and cosmetic in addition to its use in religious ceremonies. India is a leading producer and exporter of turmeric in the world. Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Orissa, Karnataka, West Bengal, Gujarat, Meghalaya, Maharashtra, Assam are some of the important states cultivates turmeric, of which, Andhra Pradesh alone occupies 35.0% of area and 47.0 per cent of production. During 2006-2007, the country produced 8,37,200 tonnes of turmeric from an area of 1,86,000 ha.
Climate and soil
Turmeric can be grown in diverse tropical conditions from sea level to 1500 meters above sea level, at a temperature range of 20-35o annual rainfall of 1500 mm or more, under rainfed or irrigated conditions. Though it can be grown on different types of soils, it thrives best in well- drained sandy or clay loam soils with a pH range of 4.5-7.5 with good organic status.
A number of cultivars are available in the country and are known mostly by the name of locality where they are cultivated. Some of the popular cultivars are Duggirala, Tekkurpet, Sugandham, Amalapuram, Erode local, Alleppey, Moovattupuzha, and Lakdong. The improved varieties of turmeric and their salient features are given in Table 1.
Preparation of land
The land is prepared with the receipt of early monsoon showers. The soil is brought to a fine tilth by giving about four deep ploughings. Hydrated
lime @ 500 kg/ha has to be applied for laterite soils and thoroughly ploughed. Immediately with the receipt of pre-monsoon showers, beds of 1.0 m width, 15 cm height and of convenient length are prepared with spacing of 50 cm between beds. Planting is also done by forming ridges and furrows.
In Kerala and other West Coast areas where the rainfall begins early, the crop can be planted during April-May with the receipt of pre-monsoon showers.