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Agriculture > Medicinal Plants > Kacholam


An attractive medicinal plant used in various medicines. The aromatic essential oil of the roots is widely used in perfumery, as a condiment, and as a folk medicine. Asians employ the rhizomes and leaves as a perfume in cosmetics, hair washes and powders. They are used to protect the clothing against insects. They are chewed with betel nut.

Kacholam is a plant adapted for tropical climate. Fertile loamy soil having good drainage is ideal for the crop. Laterite soil with heavy organic manure application is also well suited.

Preparation of land

Prepare the land to a good tilth during March by ploughing or digging. On receipt of pre-monsoon showers in April, prepare beds of 1 m width 25 cm height and of convenient length with spacing of 40 cm between beds.

Seed materials

Whole or split rhizome with at least one healthy sprout is the planting material in kacholam. Select well developed healthy and disease free rhizomes. Rhizomes can be stored in cool dry place or pits dug under shade, plastered with mud or cowdung. Two weeks before planting of the new crop, smoking the rhizomes by spreading it on Glycosmis pentaphylla ('panal') leaves is practised in certain localities.

Varieties

Mostly local varieties are under cultivation and they include collections from Koothattukulam, Thodupuzha, Varandarapalli, Kalladikode, Ponnukkara, Perumbavoor and Vellanikkara. Rajani and Kasthuri are newly released high yielding varieties with an yield potential of more than 2 tonnes dry rhizomes per ha and have good aroma and flavour.

Season and method of planting

Planting is done during the month `of May with the receipt of four or five pre-monsoon showers. Take small pits in the beds in rows with a spacing of 20 x 15 cm and at a depth of 4-5 cm and plant rhizomes with at least one viable healthy bud facing upwards. Adopt seed rate of 700-800 kg/ha.

Manuring

Apply FYM or compost as basal dose at the rate of 20 t/ha, either by broadcasting and ploughing or by covering the rhizome in pits after planting. Apply N, P2O5 and K2O @ 50, 50 and 50 kg/ha at the time of the first and second weeding.

Mulching

After planting, mulch the beds with dry or green leaves at the rate of 15 t/ha.

After cultivation

Remove weeds as and when necessary. Apply fertilizers and earth up the crop during the first and second weeding (45 and 90 days after planting). Avoid water stagnation in the beds. Further weeding will not be necessary because of the spreading of leaves on the soil surface in the beds.

Plant protection

During heavy rains, leaf rot disease occurs in certain localities. For controlling this disease, drench the beds with 1% Bordeaux mixture. Thiram 0.2% can also be sprayed.For controlling nematodes (Meloidogyne incognatia and Rhadopholus similis) associated with Kacholam, rhizome treatment with Pseudomonas fluorescence @ 3% weight by weight of seed material or by green leaf mulching with neem and glyricidia @ 5 kg/ m2 at 30 DAP can be recommended.

Harvesting and curing

The crop can be harvested seven months after planting. Drying of the leaves is the indication of crop maturity for harvest. Harvest the crop carefully without cutting the rhizomes, remove dried leaves and roots, wash the rhizome in water and dry. With sharp knife, chop the rhizomes into circular pieces of uniform size except the end portion, which has to be cut separately. Spread the cut rhizomes uniformly on clean floor and allow drying for four days. On fourth day, heap the rhizomes and keep it overnight. On the next day it is again spread and dried. Clean the dried produce, bag and store in cool dry place or market it. Prolonged storage can cause insect and fungus attack.

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