The rhizome of kali haldi has a bitter, sharp, hot taste, and a pleasant odour. It has anti-bacterial and anti-fungal properties, and is laxative. It is used as a tonic for the brain and the heart. Rhizomes are useful in treating leucoderma, piles, bronchitis, asthma, tumors, and tuberculous glands of the neck, enlargement of the spleen, epileptic seizures, inflammations, and allergic eruptions.

Black turmeric is native to Northeastern and Central India where it has been part of cultural ceremonies and medicinal remedies. Black turmeric is used by many tribal communities in the state of Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra. The herb is sold fresh or dried in markets across India and Southeast Asia. As of 2016, Black turmeric has been listed as an endangered species by the Indian Agricultural Department. Efforts are being made to protect and conserve Black turmeric in Odisha, on the central eastern coast, along the Bay of Bengal.

Black turmeric is a rare herb. It is the underground portion of the stem, or rhizome, of the Cucurma caesia plant. The plant itself is sometimes grown as an ornamental, but the root has been used for centuries for medicinal and religious purposes. Black turmeric offers benefits similar to the orange variety, but the darker cultivar contains higher concentrations of curcumin than any other Curcuma species. In Hindi, the herb is called Kali Haldi. It is used widely in India for health and religious purposes.

NUTRITIONAL VALUE/ MEDICINAL USE

Black turmeric contains the highest concentrations of curcumin of any plant species. It is a powerful antioxidant and anti-inflammatory. The root has been used medicinally for centuries to treat arthritis, asthma, and epilepsy. Black turmeric root is crushed and can be applied to bruises and sprains to ease discomfort or applied to the forehead to help relieve symptoms of migraines.

The rhizome of the plant is aromatic, contains essential oil and used for a variety of purposes. The characteristic pungent smell of the rhizome is due to the presence of essential oil rich in camphor and starch.

The rhizome is traditionally used in the treatment of hemorrhoids, leprosy, asthma, cancer, fever, wounds, vomiting, menstrual disorder, anthelmentic, aphrodisiac, gonorrheal discharges and inflammation.  Furthermore, the smooth muscle relaxant, anti-tumour and anti-oxidant properties of Curcuma Caesia rhizome extract had been reported.

Variety of plant Curcuma caesia IC-319760 (NBPGR)
No. of plant 1000 Kgs of rhizomes shall be required per acre
Sowing time July to September
Soil Sandy Loam, Acidic
Temperature 20-40 0C
pH 4.5–7.0.
Climatic Zone partial shade-loving species
Irrigation Sprinkler irrigation or Drip Irrigation
Total production 17-20 tonnes of wet rhizomes per acre while dry rhizome yield is about 4-6 tonnes per acre
Market/buy back rates
Total income
buyers Herbal extractor, medicinal companies, spices company

PHYTO-CONSTITUENTS

Dried rhizomes of Curcuma caesia are reported to contain 1.6% essential oil containing 76.6% d-camphor; 8.2% camphene and bornylene; and 10.5% sesquiterpenes, curcumine, ionone, and turmerone.

Plant height: 14 – 29 inches

Plant spread: 5 – 9 inches

Common name(s): Kali haldi, Krishna kedar, Black Turmeric

Flower colours: White

Max reachable height: 1.5 to 3 feet

Difficulty to grow: Easy to grow

Special features: Foliage & Rhizome

CLIMATE

Curcuma Caesia usually grows in moist deciduous regions. The best season to plant turmeric is spring or summer. It requires warm and humid climate to grow. Keep the turmeric plant in partial sun in the warmer zones. Turmeric prefers warm direct or indirect sun.

SOIL

Rich organic soil that is moist and well-drained. It is grown on different types of soils from light black, ashy loam and red soils clay loam. However, it grows best in a well-drained sandy or clay loam. Keep the soil moist throughout the growing season from spring to fall and feeding with a liquid fertilizer in growing season is ideal.

CARING FOR BLACK TURMERIC

  • Choose a large pot as this herb can easily exceed the height and spread.
  • Place it about 2 inches (5 cm) below the soil surface, with the buds facing up.
  • Water the land thoroughly, avoid overwatering.
  • The crop is to be mulched immediately after planting with green leaves at the rate of 12-15 tonnes per hectare
  • It may be repeated for a second time after 50 days with the same quantity of green leaves after weeding and application of fertilizers or plastic mulching sheet could be useful.
  • Pruning is not necessary, taking dried leaves off will be sufficient.

NURSERY TECHNIQUE

Raising propagules: Rhizome pieces are directly planted in the field and no nursery stock is generally raised.

Propagule rate and pretreatment: Approximately, 1000 Kg of rhizomes shall be required per acre for planting at spacing of 30 cm × 30 cm. No particular treatment is given to the propagules before planting.

PREPARATION OF LAND

The land is ploughed, harrowed, mixed with Vermicompost, Neem Cake, Trichoderma and Gypsum @ 10 tonnes per acre together. If required, lime @ 2 tonnes per hectare may be applied to reduce excessive acidity in soils, at least one month before planting.

TRANSPLANTING AND OPTIMUM SPACING

Middle of April is the best time for raising the crop in North-East India, while in other regions, it is the pre-monsoon period. The crop is propagated vegetatively through rhizomes. The whole or parts of rhizome, weighing approximately 20 g, should be planted in rows directly in the field during April. Planting at a spacing of 30 cm × 30 cm is found optimum, for which 4500 propagules (rhizome segments) are required acre. The rhizomes sprout in about 15–20 days.

INTERCROPPING SYSTEM

Kali haldi is grown as a single crop. But, it may be intercropped beneath widely interrupted canopy trees, like Amla, Mango etc.

INTERCULTURE AND MAINTENANCE PRACTICES

  • Irrigation practices: The crop is usually grown under rain-fed conditions in high rainfall tracts of Assam and Kerala states. Constant humidity is to be maintained in other areas through regular irrigation. Sprinkler irrigation is the most suitable method.
  • Disease and pest control: Leaf spot (Tephrina sp., Coletotrichum sp.) and leaf blotch (Corticium sp.) are sometimes observed on the crop.  They can be controlled by spraying of liquid organic booster at a week intervals.

HARVEST MANAGEMENT

  • Crop maturity and harvesting: The crop takes about nine months to mature. Harvesting is done in mid-January. Before digging the rhizomes, soil is moistened through irrigation, so that the rhizomes are not injured. Injury to the rhizomes may cause decay of the harvest.
  • Post-harvest management: Peeled, half cut or sliced rhizomes should be kept in oven at 55 °C or under well-ventilated shade for drying. These dried rhizomes should be stored in suitable damp-proof containers.
  • Chemical constituents : Dried rhizomes of Curcuma caesia are reported to contain 1.6% essential oil containing 76.6% d-camphor; 8.2% camphene and bornylene; and 10.5% sesquiterpenes, curcumine, ionone, and turmerone.
  • Yield: Estimated yield of fresh rhizomes is 19-21 tonnes per acre while dry rhizome yield is about 3.5 to 5 tonnes per acre.
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