Cultivation of Nutmeg: Complete guide on Nutmeg farming involves in seed treatment, planting, pest management, irrigation, harvesting and uses.
Scientific name of Nutmeg (Myristica fragrans Hoult.) Myristicaceae:
Nutmeg (also known as pala in Indonesia) is one of the two spices – the other being mace – derived from several species of tree in the genus Myristica. The most important commercial species is Myristica fragrans, an evergreen tree indigenous to the Banda Islands in the Moluccas (or Spice Islands) of Indonesia.
Nutmeg is the seed of the tree, roughly egg-shaped and about 20 to 30 mm (0.8 to 1.2 in) long and 15 to 18 mm (0.6 to 0.7 in) wide, and weighing between 5 and 10 g (0.2 and 0.4 oz) dried, while mace is the dried “lacy” reddish covering or aril of the seed. The first harvest of nutmeg trees takes place 7–9 years after planting, and the trees reach full production after twenty years. Nutmeg is usually used in powdered form. This is the only tropical fruit that is the source of two different spices, obtained from different parts of the plant. Several other commercial products are also produced from the trees, including essential oils, extracted oleoresins, and nutmeg butter.
Nutmeg Leaves & Fruits
Vishwashree, Konkan Sugandha and Konkan Swad.
Some of the elite accessions recommended by IISR are A 9-20, 22, 25, 69, 150, A 4-12, 22, 52, A11-23, 70.
Vishwashree, Konkan Swad & Konkan Sugandha
Soil and climate:
Friable, well drained clay to red soils is suitable. This crop can be grown up to an elevation of 1000 m with 150 – 250 cm of rainfall, humid tropical climate.
Seeds /grafts/ budded plants.
Seeds are collected from regular bearing and high yielding trees (more than 10,000 fruits per tree per year) and having 30 g weight/fruit, 1 g wet mace /fruit and 10 g wet weight of nuts / fruit. Seeds are harvested during June – July. Sown immediately after extraction in beds at a spacing of 30 cm and 2.5 – 5.0 cm deep. Germination commences from 40 days and extends up to 90 days after sowing. Transplanted to poly bags (35 x 15 cm) one year old seedlings are transplanted to bigger poly bags (35 x 20 cm). Seedlings transplanted to main field from 18 – 24 months.
Grafting (approach method) or budding (Patch method) is recommended to perpetuate high yielding nutmeg types. Best season is from October to January. Use only orthotropic shoots as scion materials.
Season and planting:
Plant 12 – 18 months old seedlings in pits of 60 cm x 60 cm x 60 cm size and filled up with equal parts of forest soil and cattle manure. Adopt spacing of 8 m x 8 m either way. Season of planting is June – December.
Apply FYM 15 kg, N 20 g, P 20 g, K 60 g per tree during first year and FYM 50 kg, N 300 g, P 300 g, K 960 g for adult trees in two splits June – July, September – October. Apply 50 g in each of Azospirillum and Phosphobacterium one month after manuring.
Irrigation is given once in 5 – 7 days during summer months.
Keep the area around the plant weed free. Regulation of shade is important. It requires medium shade especially during the initial stages of growth. Fast growing shade trees or Banana are planted in between them a few months prior to planting and can be thinned out later. It can be grown as mixed crop with Arecanut and Coconut. In Arecanut plantations, Nutmeg can be planted after every third row of Arecanut.
It is a serious plant parasite affecting the growth of the nutmeg plant. This can be controlled by mechanical removal of the plant parasite. Remove severely affected branches. Twigs of nutmeg trees may also be removed along with the plant parasite and paint with Bordeaux paste.
The bearing starts from six to seven years after planting. The mature fruits when they start splitting are harvested. The aril commonly known ‘mace’ and ‘seed’ are separated and dried.
Harvesting Nutmeg Fruits
Nutmeg Mace & Rind
Fruits : 1000 – 2000/tree
Dried nuts : 5 – 7 kg/tree
Dried mace : 0.5 – 0.7 kg/tree
Nutmeg and mace have similar sensory qualities, with nutmeg having a slightly sweeter and mace a more delicate flavour. Mace is often preferred in light dishes for the bright orange, saffron-like hue it imparts. Nutmeg is used for flavouring many dishes, usually in ground or grated form, and is best grated fresh in a nutmeg grater.In Indian cuisine, nutmeg is used in many sweet, as well as savoury, dishes (predominantly in Mughlai cuisine). It is also added in small quantities as a medicine for infants. It may also be used in small quantities in garam masala. Ground nutmeg is also smoked in India.In Indonesian cuisine, nutmeg is used in various dishes, mainly in many soups, such as soto soup, baso soup or sup kambing.
The essential oil obtained by steam distillation of ground nutmeg is used widely in the perfumery and pharmaceutical industries. This volatile fraction typically contains 60-80% d-camphene by weight, as well as quantities of d-pinene, limonene, d-borneol, l-terpineol, geraniol, safrol, and myristicin. In its pure form, myristicin is a toxin, and consumption of excessive amounts of nutmeg can result in myristicin poisoning.
The oil is colourless or light yellow, and smells and tastes of nutmeg. It contains numerous components of interest to the oleochemical industry, and is used as a natural food flavouring in baked goods, syrups, beverages, and sweets. It is used to replace ground nutmeg, as it leaves no particles in the food. The essential oil is also used in the cosmetic and pharmaceutical industries, for instance, in toothpaste, and as a major ingredient in some cough syrups. In traditional medicine, nutmeg and nutmeg oil were used for disorders related to the nervous and digestive systems.
After extraction of the essential oil, the remaining seed, containing much less flavour, is called “spent”. Spent is often mixed in industrial mills with pure nutmeg to facilitate the milling process, as nutmeg is not easy to mill due to the high percentage of oil in the pure seed. Ground nutmeg with a variable percentage of spent (around 10% w/w) is also less likely to clot. To obtain a better running powder, a small percentage of rice flour also can be added.
Nutmeg butter is obtained from the nut by expression. It is semisolid, reddish-brown in colour, and tastes and smells of nutmeg. About 75% (by weight) of nutmeg butter is trimyristin, which can be turned into myristic acid, a 14-carbon fatty acid, which can be used as a replacement for cocoa butter, can be mixed with other fats like cottonseed oil or palm oil, and has applications as an industrial lubricant.
Nutmeg has been used in medicine since at least the seventh century. In the 19th century, it was used as an abortifacient, which led to numerous recorded cases of nutmeg poisoning. Although used as a folk treatment for other ailments, unprocessed nutmeg has no proven medicinal value today.
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