This photo depicts organic ginger farming in a field, with two insets showing close-up views of a ginger rhizome.

Organic Ginger Farming: A Comprehensive Guide for Beginners

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Ginger is a popular spice and herb for its aromatic, intense, and medicinal properties. It is also a profitable crop that growers can cultivate organically with minimal inputs and environmental impact. This guide provides a step-by-step process for farming organic ginger, covering everything from selecting a site and preparing the soil to harvesting and curing.

Introduction

Ginger, botanically known as Zingiber officinale, is a perennial herb that belongs to the Zingiberaceae family, along with turmeric and cardamom. It is native to Southeast Asia but widely cultivated worldwide in tropical and subtropical regions. The part of the plant used as a spice and medicine is the underground stem or rhizome, which has a characteristic yellow color, knobby shape, and spicy flavor.

Ginger has many health benefits, such as improving digestion, relieving nausea, reducing inflammation, fighting infections, and boosting immunity. It is also a common ingredient in various cuisines, particularly in Asian dishes, and finds use in beverages, candies, preserves, and cosmetics. Ginger is one of the most traded spices in the world, with India being the largest producer and exporter.

Growing ginger organically means avoiding synthetic fertilizers, pesticides, herbicides, and other chemicals that can harm the soil, water, plants, animals, and human health. Organic ginger farming also involves adopting sustainable practices that enhance soil fertility, conserve water and biodiversity, reduce waste and pollution, and increase farm income and food security.

Ginger plants have two growth stages: young plants with green shoots and mature plants with pink and white rhizomes.

Rhizomes

Climate Requirement for Ginger Growth:

Ginger grows best in a warm and humid climate with a 25 to 35 degrees Celsius temperature range and an annual rainfall of 1500 to 3000 mm. It can tolerate partial shade but prefers bright sunlight for optimal growth and yield. It is sensitive to frost, drought, waterlogging, and strong winds.

Ginger can be grown from sea level up to 1500 meters above sea level1. It can be grown in different seasons depending on the region and climate. In India, ginger is usually planted in April-May in the plains and June-July in the hills. The crop duration is about 8 to 10 months.

Soil Requirement for Ginger Plantation:

Ginger thrives in well-drained soils rich in organic matter and has a pH of 6 to 6.5. Sandy loam, clay loam, red loam, or lateritic loam are ideal soil types for ginger cultivation. The soil should be loose and friable to facilitate root development and rhizome expansion.

Before planting ginger, you should test the soil for nutrient status, pH, organic carbon, and microbial activity. Based on the test results, appropriate amendments such as lime, compost, manure, biofertilizers, or biopesticides can be applied to improve soil quality and fertility.

InterCrop in Organic Ginger Farming:

Inter-cropping is growing two or more crops in a pattern or arrangement on the same land. Inter-cropping has many advantages for organic ginger Production, such as:

    • It increases crop diversity and productivity
    • It reduces pest and disease incidence
    • It improves soil health and nutrient availability
    • It conserves water and prevents soil erosion
    • It provides additional income and food security

Some of the suitable inter-crops for ginger are:

    • Legumes such as pigeon pea, cowpea, soybean, or green gram
    • Cereals such as maize or millet
    • Vegetables such as tomato or okra
    • Spices such as turmeric or black pepper
    • Fruits such as banana or pineapple

The choice of inter-crops depends on the agro-climatic conditions, market demand, crop compatibility, and farmer’s preference. The inter-crops should be planted appropriately from the ginger rows to avoid competition for space, light, water, and nutrients.

Buffer Zone in Ginger Farming:

A buffer zone is an area of land that separates an organic farm from a conventional farm or any other source of contamination. A buffer zone is essential for organic ginger farming to prevent the drift of chemical residues, seeds, pollen, or pests from neighboring farms or fields.

The size of the buffer zone depends on several factors, such as:

  • The type and direction of the wind
  • The type and mode of application of chemicals
  • The type and density of vegetation
  • The slope and topography of the land
  • The distance and orientation of the organic farm

It is advisable to maintain a buffer zone of 25 to 50 feet (7.6 to 15.2 meters) for organic ginger farming. You can plant this buffer zone with trees, shrubs, flowers, or crops resistant to contamination or can serve as windbreaks or hedgerows.

Land Preparation for Organic Ginger Plantation:

It is an essential step for organic ginger farming that involves the following activities:

  • Plowing and harrowing the soil to a fine tilth and removing any weeds, stones, or debris.
  • Applying organic manure or compost at the rate of 10 to 15 tons per hectare and mixing it well with the soil.
  • Forming raised beds of 15 to 20 cm in height, 100 to 120 cm in width, and convenient length with furrows in between for drainage and irrigation.
  • Applying biofertilizers such as Azospirillum, Phosphobacteria, or Rhizobium at the rate of 5 kg per hectare and mixing them with the soil on the beds.
  • Applying biopesticides such as Trichoderma, Pseudomonas, or Bacillus at the rate of 2.5 kg per hectare and mixing them with the soil on the beds.

Planting Material of Ginger:

The planting material of ginger is the rhizome or the underground stem with buds or eyes. The rhizome should be:

    • True to type and free from diseases and pests
    • Mature and well-developed with firm and smooth skin
    • Fresh and not shriveled or sprouted
    • Cut into 20 to 25 g pieces with one or two buds.

The planting material should be treated with biopesticides such as Trichoderma, Pseudomonas, or Bacillus at 10 g per kg of rhizome to prevent fungal and bacterial infections. The treated rhizomes should be dried in the shade for a day before planting.

Most Popular Varieties of Ginger:

Many varieties of ginger differ in their yield, quality, flavor, aroma, pungency, and disease resistance. Some of the popular types of ginger are:

  • Maran: This high-yielding variety produces large fleshy rhizomes with yellowish-brown skin and a strong flavor. It is resistant to soft rot and bacterial wilt diseases.
  • Varada: It is a high-yielding variety that produces medium-sized and compact rhizomes with light brown skin and a mild flavor. It is resistant to soft rot and bacterial wilt diseases.
  • Mahima: It is a high-yielding variety that produces small and slender rhizomes with dark brown skin and a spicy flavor. It is resistant to soft rot and bacterial wilt diseases.
  • Suprabha: It is a high-yielding variety that produces medium-sized and cylindrical rhizomes with light yellow skin and a pleasant aroma. It is resistant to soft rot and bacterial wilt diseases.
  • Suruchi: It is a high-yielding variety that produces medium-sized and oval rhizomes with golden yellow skin and a rich flavor. It is resistant to soft rot and bacterial wilt diseases.

Planting, Spacing of Ginger:

The best time for planting ginger is in April-May in the plains and June-July in the hills. It would help if you planted on cloudy days or in the evening to avoid sun scorching. The planting method is as follows:

  • Make small holes on the beds at 20 to 25 cm spacing between rows and 15 to 20 cm between plants.
  • Place one piece of rhizome in each hole with the bud facing upwards.
  • Cover the rhizome with soil lightly without pressing.
  • Mulch the beds with dry leaves or straw to conserve moisture and prevent weed growth.

Irrigation Requirement in Ginger Production:

Ginger requires adequate moisture throughout its growth period for optimum yield and quality. The frequency and amount of irrigation depend on the soil type, climate, rainfall, and crop stage. Generally, ginger requires irrigation once in three days during the dry season and once in seven days during the rainy season. You should stop the irrigation one month before harvesting to facilitate rhizome maturity and curing.

Drip irrigation is an efficient method for ginger cultivation as it saves water, reduces weed growth, prevents soil erosion, and enhances nutrient uptake. Drip irrigation can be done by installing drip lines along the rows of ginger plants at a depth of 10 cm below the soil surface. The drip lines should have emitters at an interval of 30 cm that deliver water at a rate of 4 liters per hour.

Ginger Cultural practices:

Ginger requires some cultural practices for proper growth and development. These include:

  • Mulching: Mulching is the practice of covering the soil surface with organic materials such as dry leaves, straw, coir pith, or sawdust. Mulching helps conserve soil moisture, control weed growth, moderate soil temperature, improve soil structure, and enhance microbial activity. It should be done soon after planting ginger and repeated after every weeding operation.
  • Weeding: Weeding is removing unwanted plants that compete with ginger for space, light, water, and nutrients. Weeding should be done manually or with a hoe at 15 to 20 days intervals. You should remove the weeds and their roots and use them as mulch or compost. Weeding also helps in aerating the soil and preventing pest and disease infestation.
  • Earthing up: Earthing up adds soil to the base of the ginger plants to provide support and prevent exposure to the rhizomes. Earthing up should be done twice during the crop growth, once at 45 days after planting and again at 90 days after planting. Earthing up also helps in increasing the rhizome size and yield.
  • Desuckering: Desuckering is the practice of removing the unwanted shoots or suckers that emerge from the rhizomes. Desuckering should be done once at 60 days after planting to reduce competition and improve the quality of the main rhizomes. Desuckering also helps in preventing the spread of pests and diseases.

Weed Control in Ginger Plantation:

It is an essential aspect of organic ginger farming, as weeds can reduce the yield and quality of ginger by competing for resources and harboring pests and diseases. You can achieve weed control by using various methods, such as:

Mulching:

It is the most effective and eco-friendly method of weed control as it suppresses weed growth, conserves soil moisture, improves soil fertility, and enhances crop growth. Mulching should be done soon after planting ginger and repeated after every weeding operation.

Mechanical:

Mechanical methods of weed control involve using tools such as hoes, spades, or weeders to remove weeds manually or mechanically. Automated processes are labor-intensive and time-consuming but can effectively control weeds in small areas or inter-rows.

Biological:

Biological methods of weed control involve using living organisms such as insects, fungi, bacteria, or plants to suppress or kill weeds. Physical methods are natural and safe but can be slow and unpredictable in their action. Some examples of biological weed control agents are:

      • Insects such as weevils, beetles, or moths feed on weed seeds, stems, or leaves.
      • Fungi such as Fusarium oxysporum or Colletotrichum gloeosporioides that infect and kill weeds
      • Bacteria such as Bacillus thuringiensis or Pseudomonas fluorescens that produce toxins or enzymes that inhibit weed growth
      • Plants such as sunflower, marigold, or mint release allelopathic substances that inhibit weed germination or growth

Cultural:

Cultural methods of weed control involve the manipulation of crop management practices such as crop rotation, inter-cropping, cover cropping, or tillage to prevent or reduce weed infestation. It is economical and sustainable but requires proper planning and execution. Some examples of cultural weed control practices are:

      • Crop rotation: Crop rotation is the practice of growing different crops in succession on the same piece of land to break the weed life cycle and reduce the weed population
      • Inter-cropping: Inter-cropping is the practice of growing two or more crops together on the same piece of land in a specific pattern or arrangement to create a favorable microclimate for crop growth and an unfavorable one for weed growth
      • Cover cropping: Cover cropping is the practice of growing a fast-growing crop that covers the soil surface and suppresses weed growth by shading, smothering, or competing with weeds
      • Tillage: Tillage is the practice of stirring or turning the soil to expose or bury weed seeds, roots, or shoots and prevent their germination or growth.

Manuring Ginger Plants:

This is essential to organic ginger farming as it provides nutrients for crop growth and improves soil health and fertility. Manuring can be done by using various sources of organic matter, such as:

  • Farmyard manure: Farmyard manure is a mixture of animal dung, urine, and bedding materials such as straw, hay, or leaves. Farmyard manure is rich in nitrogen, phosphorus, potassium, calcium, magnesium, sulfur, and micronutrients. Farmyard manure should be well decomposed before being applied to ginger beds at 10 to 15 tons per hectare.
  • Compost: Compost is a product of aerobic decomposition of organic wastes such as kitchen scraps, garden trimmings, animal manures, crop residues, or municipal solid wastes. Compost is rich in humus, carbon, nitrogen, phosphorus, potassium, and micronutrients. Compost should be mature and free from pathogens, weed seeds, or heavy metals before applying to ginger beds at 5 to 10 tons per hectare.
  • Vermicompost: Vermicompost is a product of vermicomposting, or using earthworms to convert organic wastes into a fine-grained, odorless, and nutrient-rich material. Vermicompost is rich in nitrogen, phosphorus, potassium, calcium, magnesium, iron, zinc, copper, and manganese. Vermicompost also contains beneficial microorganisms that enhance soil health and plant growth. Vermicompost should be free from contaminants and pests before being applied to ginger beds at 2.5 to 5 tons per hectare.
  • Green manure is a crop grown and plowed into the soil to add organic matter and nutrients. Green manure crops are usually legumes that fix atmospheric nitrogen and improve soil structure and water-holding capacity. Some examples of green manure crops for ginger farming are sunn hemp, cowpea, sesbania, or cluster bean. It would help if you sowed green manure crops before planting ginger and incorporated it into the soil at the flowering stage.
  • Biofertilizers: Biofertilizers are living organisms that enhance soil fertility and crop growth by fixing atmospheric nitrogen, solubilizing phosphorus, mobilizing potassium, or producing plant growth hormones. Biofertilizers can be bacteria, fungi, algae, or cyanobacteria that colonize ginger plants’ root zone or rhizosphere. Some examples of biofertilizers for ginger farming are Azospirillum, Phosphobacteria, Rhizobium, or Mycorrhiza. Biofertilizers and organic manures or composts should be applied to ginger beds at 5 kg per hectare.

Pests and Diseases, Control Measures of Ginger Plants:

Pests and diseases are major constraints for organic ginger farming as they can cause significant losses in yield and quality. You can control Pests and diseases by using various methods, such as:

Cultural

These pest and disease control methods involve manipulating crop management practices such as site selection, land preparation, planting material, crop rotation, inter-cropping, mulching, weeding, earthing up irrigation, or harvesting to prevent or reduce pest and disease infestation. Cultural methods are economical and sustainable but require proper planning and execution.

Mechanical:

These pest and disease control methods involve using tools such as traps, barriers, nets, or handpicking to remove or exclude pests or diseased plants from the crop. Mechanical processes are labor-intensive and time-consuming but can effectively control pests or diseases in small areas or isolated cases.

Biological:

These pest and disease control methods involve using living organisms such as predators, parasites, pathogens, or plants to suppress or kill pests or diseases. Biological processes are natural and safe but can be slow and unpredictable in their action.

Some examples of biological pest and disease control agents are:

    • Predators such as ladybugs, lacewings, spiders, or birds that feed on insect pests.
    • Parasites such as wasps, flies, or nematodes lay eggs on or inside insect pests and kill them.
    • Pathogens such as viruses, bacteria, fungi, or protozoa infect and kill insect pests or diseases.
    • Plants such as neem, garlic, onion, or marigold that repel or deter insect pests or diseases.

Botanical:

These pest and disease control methods involve using plant extracts or oils with insecticidal, fungicidal, or bactericidal properties. Botanical methods are eco-friendly and biodegradable but can be phytotoxic or harmful to beneficial organisms if used excessively or improperly. Some examples of botanical pest and disease control agents are:

    • Neem oil: Neem oil is extracted from the seeds of the neem tree (Azadirachta indica) and has a broad spectrum of activity against insect pests and diseases. Neem oil can be sprayed on ginger plants at 5 ml per liter of water for 15 days.
    • Garlic extract: Garlic extract is prepared by crushing garlic cloves (Allium sativum) and soaking them in water for 24 hours. Garlic extract has a repellent effect on insect pests and a fungicidal effect on diseases. Garlic extract can be sprayed on ginger plants at 10 ml per liter of water for 15 days.
    • Onion extract: It is prepared by chopping onion bulbs (Allium cepa) and boiling them in water for 30 minutes. Onion extract has an antifeedant effect on insect pests and a bactericidal effect on diseases. Onion extract can be sprayed on ginger plants at 10 ml per liter of water for 15 days.
    • Marigold extract: Marigold extract is prepared by soaking marigold flowers (Tagetes spp.) in water for 48 hours. The marigold section has a nematicidal effect on root-knot nematodes that damage ginger rhizomes. The extract can be drenched on ginger beds at 20 ml per liter of water for 15 days.

Some of the common pests and diseases of ginger and their control measures are:

  • Shoot borer: It is an insect pest that bores into ginger stems and rhizomes and causes leaves wilting and yellowing. Shoot borer controlled by:
      • Removing and destroying the infested shoots and rhizomes.
      • Spraying neem oil or garlic extract on ginger plants.
      • Releasing parasitic wasps such as Bracon hebetor or Cotesia flavipes that attack the shoot borer larvae.
  • Leaf roller: This is an insect pest that rolls and feeds on the leaves of ginger and causes defoliation and reduced photosynthesis. Leaf roller controlled by:
      • Removing and destroying the rolled leaves.
      • Spraying neem oil or garlic extract on ginger plants.
      • Releasing predatory bugs such as Orius spp. or Chrysoperla spp. that feed on the leaf roller eggs and larvae.
  • Aphids: Aphids are small, soft-bodied insects that suck the sap from the leaves and stems of ginger and cause curling, yellowing, and stunting of plants. Aphids also transmit viral diseases such as yellow mottle virus or mosaic virus. Aphids controlled by:
      • Spraying a jet of water to dislodge the aphids from the plants
      • Spraying neem oil or onion extract on ginger plants
      • Releasing predatory insects such as ladybugs, lacewings, or hoverflies that feed on aphids
  • Soft rot: Soft rot is a bacterial disease that causes rotting and decay of the rhizomes of ginger. High temperature, high humidity, and poor drainage favor soft rot. Soft rot  controlled by:
      • Selecting healthy and disease-free planting material.
      • Treating the rhizomes with biopesticides such as Trichoderma, Pseudomonas, or Bacillus before planting.
      • Providing adequate drainage and aeration to the ginger beds.
      • Applying lime or wood ash to the soil to increase pH and reduce bacterial activity.
      • Spraying marigold extract or copper sulfate solution on ginger plants.
  • Bacterial wilt: Bacterial wilt is a bacterial disease that causes wilting, yellowing, and drooping of the leaves and stems of ginger. Contaminated soil, water, tools, or insects spread bacterial wilt.  Controlled by:
      • Practicing crop rotation with non-host crops such as cereals, legumes, or vegetables.
      • Avoiding injury or damage to the ginger plants during cultivation or harvesting.
      • Removing and destroying the infected plants and rhizomes.
      • Applying biopesticides such as Trichoderma, Pseudomonas, or Bacillus to the soil and plants.
      • Spraying garlic extract or copper sulfate solution on ginger plants.

Harvesting, Curing, and Yield of Ginger:

Ginger is ready for harvesting when the leaves turn yellow and dry up, indicating the rhizomes’ maturity. The harvesting time varies depending on the variety, climate, and purpose of use. Generally, people harvest ginger for fresh or dry use after 8 to 10 months of planting. The harvesting method is as follows:

  • Loosen the soil around the ginger plants with a spade or a fork
  • Lift the plants carefully along with the rhizomes without breaking or injuring them
  • Shake off the excess soil from the rhizomes and cut off the stems and roots
  • Sort out the rhizomes according to size, shape, and quality
  • Wash the rhizomes thoroughly with clean water to remove any dirt or debris

The Curing method

Curing involves drying and preserving the rhizomes for long-term storage and marketing, specifically for dry ginger production. The curing method is as follows:

  • Peel off the skin from the rhizomes with a knife or a scraper.
  • Cut or slice the rhizomes into thin pieces of uniform size and shape.
  • Soak the pieces in a solution of lime water (10 g of lime per liter of water) for 6 hours to prevent fungal growth and enhance color.
  • Drain off the excess solution and spread the pieces in a thin layer on a clean surface under shade for 24 hours.
  • Dry the pieces in direct sunlight for 4 to 5 days until they become hard and brittle.
  • Store the dried pieces in airtight containers or bags in a cool and dry place.

The yield of ginger depends on various factors such as variety, climate, soil, irrigation, manuring, pest and disease management, and harvesting and curing methods. The average yield of fresh ginger is about 15 to 20 tons per hectare, and the average yield of dry ginger is about 2.5 to 3 tons per hectare.

Ginger roots and plants. Green leaves, white flowers on the left: Knobby, light brown meat on the right.

Ginger

Preservation of Ginger Seed:

Preserving ginger seed is important for maintaining the quality and viability of the planting material for the next season. You can do protection of ginger seed by using various methods, such as:

Pit method: 

It is a traditional method of preserving ginger seed that involves the following steps:

  • Dig a pit of 1-meter depth, 1 meter width, and convenient length in a shady and well-drained place.
  • Line the pit with straw or leaves and fill it with sand or sawdust.
  • Place the rhizomes in a single layer on the sand or sawdust and cover them with another layer of sand or sawdust.
  • Repeat until the pit is complete, and cover the top with straw or leaves.
  • Water the pit occasionally to maintain moisture and check for any rotting or sprouting of rhizomes

Heap method

This is a simple method of preserving ginger seed involves the following steps:

  • Select a cool and dry place with good ventilation and shade.
  • Make a heap of rhizomes on a wooden platform or a raised bed covered with straw or leaves.
  • Cover the pile with straw or leaves and tie it with a rope or a net.
  • Water the heap occasionally to maintain moisture and check for any rotting or sprouting of rhizomes.

Cold storage method

It is a modern method of preserving ginger seed that involves the following steps:

  • Select healthy and disease-free rhizomes and treat them with biopesticides such as Trichoderma, Pseudomonas, or Bacillus.
  • Pack the rhizomes in perforated polythene bags or crates and label them with date and variety.
  • Store the rhizomes in a cold storage unit at 10 to 15 degrees Celsius and a relative humidity of 80 to 85 percent.
  • Check the rhizomes periodically for any signs of deterioration or damage.

What is the main point to keep in mind when cultivating ginger?

Ginger, which can grown organically with minimal inputs and environmental impact, is a valuable spice and herb. Organic ginger farming requires proper planning and management of various aspects such as site selection, land preparation, planting material, crop rotation, inter-cropping, mulching, weeding, earthing up irrigation, manuring, pest and disease control, harvesting, curing, and preservation.

Admin

I am Gaushoul Agam,

𝐂𝐨-𝐅𝐨𝐮𝐧𝐝𝐞𝐫 & 𝐂𝐄𝐎,
ToAgriculture

As an experienced SA Horticulture Officer in the Horticulture Wing of the Department of Agricultural Extension, Ministry of Agriculture, Government of the People’s Republic of Bangladesh, I am dedicated to advancing agriculture and farming.

With a mission to address global food safety challenges amid a growing population, diminishing arable land, and the impacts of climate change on agriculture, I founded ToAgriculture. Through this platform, I empower readers with modern agricultural techniques, effective pest and disease control, and sustainable agricultural management, leading to a more secure and prosperous future in agriculture.

With over four years of expertise in field crops and seven years in horticulture crops, my knowledge spans fruit and vegetable farming techniques, adept pest-disease management, proficient irrigation strategies, and the art of grafting. Join me on this journey of discovery as I share insights and experiences to guide readers toward a sustainable future.

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