Turmeric 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, Odisha, Karnataka, West Bengal, Gujarat, Meghalaya, Maharashtra, Assam are some of the important states cultivates turmeric, of which, Andhra Pradesh alone occupies 35% of area and 47% of production. Turmeric is the boiled, dried, cleaned and polished rhizomes of Curcuma long. The plant is herbaceous perennial.
The turmeric is available in these types of varieties:-
Yellowing, withering and drying of leaves are the maturity indices of turmeric. The turmeric crop is ready for harvesting in about 7 to 9 months after sowing depending upon the variety. The aromatic types mature in about 7 months and the long types in about 9 months and the intermediate types in about 8 months. The dry leaves are cut close to the ground. The land is irrigated, if necessary and ploughed in between the rows if the crop is planted on ridges. Otherwise a crowbar is used. The rhizomes are then dug up.
Depending upon the variety, the crop becomes ready for harvest in 7-9 months after planting. Usually harvesting extends from January to March-April. Early varieties mature in 7-8 months and medium varieties in 8-9 months. The crop is ready for harvesting when the leaves turn yellow and start drying up. At the time of maturity, leaves are cut close to the ground, the land is ploughed and rhizomes are gathered by hand-picking or the clumps are carefully lifted with a spade. The picked rhizomes are collected and cleaned. The mother and finger rhizomes are separated before curing. The yield per hectare comes to 20,000 to 22,000 kilograms of green turmeric. Some of the high-yielding selections developed have recorded a yield of 35,000 of green turmeric per hectare.
Well-cured and dried turmeric is generally packed in double burlap new gunny bags which are properly fumigated prior to packaging. Detail packaging studies have revealed that aluminum-foil laminate offers maximum protection against loss of volatile oil and ingress of moisture. Double pouch of 300 MSAT cellophane glassine inside and 250 gauge low-density polyethylene outside offers adequate protection to the product over 135 days in different conditions of storage when initial moisture content of the product is about 9% (DWB). Polyethylene pouches alone are inadequate to give desired protection against loss of volatile oil as nearly 60% of it is lost within 135 days.
Farmers can store cured turmeric for long if Turmeric bags are stored in a pit. For this purpose, pits of 450cm deep with 300cm and 200cm sides should be dug on raised ground. The pits should be allowed to dry for a couple of days and sides and bottom should be padded with a thick layer of paddy straw or any such material. Over the layer a date-mat is spread. After bags of turmeric are kept in the pit, they should be covered with a layer of straw or grass. It is then covered with soil.