Cumin (Cuminum cyminum), popularly known as safed jeera, is one of the most common spices of India. In India, it is mainly cultivated in Gujarat (North Gujarat and Saurastra regions), Rajasthan (Barmer, Jaisalmer, Jalore, Jodhpur, Nagaur, Ajmer, Pali districts), in some parts of Madhya Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh as rabi crop. India produces 3.94 lakh tonnes of cumin from an area of 5.93 lakh ha with a productivity of 6.64 q/ha. The productivity in Gujarat is 7.58 q/ha while that of Rajasthan is 5.04 q/ha. The contribution of Gujarat in area and production is 62.9 and 75.8%, respectively. Cumin is mainly cultivated for flavoring vegetables, pickles, soups, etc. The mean volatile oil and fatty oil of cumin vary from 2.5-5.0% and 10%, respectively. The seeds are extensively used in Ayurvedic medicines prescribed for stomach pain and dyspepsia. The seeds also contain 18.0% protein, 23.8% fat, 44.6% carbohydrate, potassium 2.1%, phosphorus 0.45% and 0.05% iron. The important chemical content in cumin essential oil is cuminaldehyde.
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Climate and soil
A moderately cool and dry climate is best for cumin cultivation. Cumin crop does not prefer humid atmosphere during flowering and seed setting stage and is prone to severe attack by diseases like blight and powdery mildew under such climatic conditions. It is also susceptible to frost injury during the flowering and early fruit setting stage. At the time of maturity, cumin needs a dry climate. Cumin can be cultivated in a wide range of soils. Those having plenty of organic material with better fertility status are most suitable. The soil should have a better drainage facility because both stagnated water and excessive moisture are very harmful to cumin crops.
Varieties GC 1: Developed by SDAU, Spice Research Centre, Jagudan, from local germplasm, its plants and erect with pink flowers, bold, linear, oblong ash color grains. Matures in 105-110 days; average yield is 5.4 q/ ha.
GC 2: Developed by SDAU, Spice Research Centre, Jagudan, through pure line selection, its plants are erect with good branching, grains bold and attractive, and matures in 100 days; Average yield is 6.2 q/ha and yield potential 8.4 q/ha.
GC 3: Developed by SDAU, Spice Research Centre, Jagudan, through selection from the exotic lines, its plants are bushy with very high branching. It is resistant to wilt, matures in 110 days; Average yield of 6.2 q/ha; Yield potential of 7.8 q/ha. Essential oil content 3.5%.
GC 4: Developed by SDAU, Spice Research Centre, Jagudan, through selection, its plants are bushy, attractive having very high branching. Resistant to Fusarium wilt. Grains bold, non-splitting, pungent with very good aroma, dark ash in color, oil content 4.2%. Matures in 110 days. Average yield 12.5 q/ha (with yield potential of 18.75 q/ha).
RZ 19: Developed at RAU, SKN College of Agriculture, Jobner, through selection from a local collection, its plants are erect in growth behavior, bear pink flowers, and bold pubescent grains. It takes 120 – 140 days to mature; the average yield is 5-6 q/ha.
RZ 209: Developed at RAU, SKN College of Agriculture, Jobner through selection, it is tolerant to wilt. Takes 140-150 days to reach maturity; the seed yields 6.5 q/ha.
RZ 223: Developed at RAU, SKN College of Agriculture, Jobner, through selection, it possesses resistance to wilt; Seed yield of 6.0 q/ha; oil content of 3.23%.
Cumin should be sown during the second and third weeks of November. It can be successfully sown up to the first week of December. A seed rate of 10-15 kg/ha is sufficient. It is sown by broadcasting and line sowing (25-30 cm). The seeds are sown 1-2 cm deep and should be treated with Thiram or Captan @3 g/kg seed before sowing to control seed-borne diseases. Trichoderma @ 4 g/kg seed is recommended for control of Fusarium wilt.
The requirement for fertilizer depends on the fertility status of the soil. Add 10-15 tonnes of farmyard manure/ha. No additional manuring is required if in the preceding Kharif crop 10- 5 tonnes of farmyard or compost/ha has been applied. A dose of 15 kg nitrogen and 15-20 kg phosphorus/ha should be applied at the time of sowing, 15 kg nitrogen/ha may be applied as top-dressing after 1 month of germination.
Cumin requires less irrigation compared to other seed spices. First light irrigation is given immediately after sowing to wet the surface soil. At this time, the flow of water in beds must be slow so that seeds are not disturbed. Second irrigation should be applied. 6-10 days after first irrigation for better germination. Depending upon the soil type and climatic conditions the subsequent irrigations may be given at 15-25 days. intervals Irrigation should be controlled during heavy dew days or cloudy weather. Whereas, on incidences of blight disease or possibilities of blight disease, irrigation should be avoided. Under heavy soils, the crop is successfully raised without irrigation to conserve soil moisture Inter-culturing is recommended at 30 and 45 DAS.
Cumin crop faces severe weed competition at all stages of growth because of its slow growth and short stature The crop should be kept free from weeds. Generally, according to weed intensity adopt 2 inter culturing followed by hand weeding at 25 and 40-45 DAS. Thinning should also be done during the first hoeing and weeding to remove the excess plants. For effective control of weeds spraying of Pendimethalin @ 1.0 kg a../ha or Terbutryn or Oxcadiazone @ 0.5-1.0 kg/ha as pre-emergence in 500 L of water is recommended. At the time of weedicide application, sufficient moisture should be present in the soil.
Mechanization: Some machines were developed for easy cultivation.
• Sowing. Use seed-cum-fertilizer drill specially modified for sowing of seed spices.
• Inter-culturing. Use of improved wheel hoe for cost-effective energy saving.
• Harvesting: Use Navin sickle.
• Threshing: Use modified thresher.
Diseases and pests
Aphid: Both nymphs and adults cause serious damage at the flowering stage of the crop by sucking the cell sap Avoid late sowing, Install yellow sticky traps for monitoring incidence of aphid @ 10 traps/ha.
Thrips: Seed treatment with Thiamethoxam 70 WS @4.2g/kg seed or Imidacloprid 70 WS @ 10g/kg seed is recommended.
Fusarium wilt: Select well-drained field, use wilt resistant variety GC-4, soil application of castor cake/ mustard cake/poultry manure @ 2.5 tonnes/ha and crop rotations like cluster bean-cumin/wheat/mustard can effectively manage the wilt incidence in cumin. Disease-free seed should be used for sowing.
Alternaria blight: Prefer line sowing, inter-culturing twice. Seed treatment with thiram or captan @3.0 g/kg seeds before sowing, spray Mancozeb @ 0.25% 4 times at 10 days intervals commencing from 40 days after sowing. Add 1 ml soap solution/liter water for better efficiency of fungicide. Keep the crop free from weeds.
Powdery mildew: Can be controlled by dusting of Sulphur dust @ 25 kg/ha in the early morning or spraying with wettable sulphur after 10 AM on the appearance of the disease. The second spray should be given after 10-15 days.
Frost: Cumin is susceptible to frost during the flowering and seed formation stage. The provision of smoke in the field is necessary to protect the crop.
Harvesting and post-harvest management
Quality improvement: Apply a recommended dose of nutrition. Keep the crop free from weed and disease. Harvest cumin crop at physiological maturity for higher volatile oil content.
Generally, the cumin crop takes 90-120 days to reach maturity. Harvesting should be done when plants turn yellowish-brown preferably early in the morning by cutting with sickle and not by uprooting the whole plant. The harvested plants should be stacked for few days and dry in sun in the threshing yard before threshing. Under scientific management conditions, the seed yield of 8-12 q/ha of cumin of improved varieties can be obtained. Dried and clean seeds are filled in bags and stored in damp-free aerated stores. On a commercial scale, seeds are cleaned with the help of a vacuum gravity separator or distoner, spiral gravity separator. To get good prices and easy marketing the product should be categorized in different grades and stored properly.
Value-addition: The characteristic odor of cumin oil is due to the presence of cuminaldehyde in cumin oil. The oil is extensively used in the perfumery, flavoring liquors, and cordials. Cumin seed is considered a stimulant, carminative, stomachic, astringent and useful in diarrhea and dyspepsia. Cumin seed is largely used as a condiment and form of an essential ingredient in all mixed spices and curry powder for flavoring soups, pickles, and seasoning bread and cakes. The byproduct Jeera Ark produced after extraction of essential oil possesses good medicinal properties for curing indigestion at the household level.
Cumin is one of the important export commodity crops. India exported 79,500 tonnes of cumin during 2012-13, earning foreign exchange worth 1,093 crores.