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Ginger growing tips

Tuesday, June 19, 2018

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Jamaican ginger is regarded as the best in the world, commanding the highest prices. Here are some tips on growing ginger.

The Plant

Ginger is a herb that, once planted, grows year after year. Each year it bears parts called hands which put out branches that sprout shoots as they grow out.

Leaves make food and store it in hands. As days get shorter, leaves dry down naturally and hands reach mature size.

The next year, these new hands sprout (ratooning) and the plant spreads further.

Growing Areas, Soil, Locations

The major ginger-growing areas are 450 to 900 metres above sea level in the hilly areas of central Jamaica, where the parishes of Manchester, Clarendon, St Ann, and Trelawny meet.

Ginger grows well on many types of soil in Jamaica. Best results come from clay loams with a good supply of organic matter. The crop cannot withstand waterlogging.

Major Pests and Diseases

Ginger Rhizome Rot (GRR)

This disease hit the main ginger-growing areas in 1995. It worsened each year and in 1997 around half of the crop was destroyed.

It affects all parts of the plant. Leaves droop, turn yellow, and plant tops are easily pulled away from the root. The plant dries and falls over before reaping time.

Hands may look healthy outside or rotted. Inside, hands are a lighter or darker colour than normal.

Normal-looking hands placed in storage rot after several weeks if they are diseased.

The disease is caused by germs. These are spread in the ginger and soil, on tools, shoes, etc. It is more destructive in wet conditions. To control the disease, several things must be done.

* Do not plant ginger from affected areas in those places which do not show the disease.

* In central Jamaica, use planting material only from fields which show little or no disease. Select only healthy-looking hands:

Break and inspect insides for off-colour and rot.

* Avoid land which shows disease, for planting.

* Treat planting material with fungicide as follows:

i. Place about 34 kg (75 lb) planting pieces in each bag.

ii. In a bucket or similar container, pour about 5-10 litres water, add all the fungicide and mix well. Add the amount of sticker shown on the label and again mix well.

iii. Pour the mixture into one drum then top up with water and mix well.

iv. Pour half of this mixture into the empty drum, giving two drums, to speed up dipping.

v. Dip each bag for 20 minutes. Move the bag up and down every five minutes to stir. Make sure the bag is covered by the mixture each time.

vi. Spread pieces out to dry first or plant wet. Treat soil after planting, with the used mixture.

Land Preparation

* 1-3 months before planting, plough soil at least 30 cm (1 ft) deep and allow to weather (burn).

* On heavier soil, cut drains to remove excess water.

* Refine land shortly before planting. Add organic matter at refining. For well-broken down manure, do so about one month before planting. Fresh manure may need 2-4 months.

Planting

* Cut furrows using a hoe and place pieces in the bottom. Use soil from the second furrow cut to cover pieces in the first; from the third, to cover the second, and so on until the entire field is planted out. Cover pieces 4-8 cm (1.5-3 in.) deep.

* Tractors use a reverse disc after each furrow-blade; pieces dropped from the gang are covered by the disc. Animal-drawn ploughs are followed by someone dropping pieces and covering.

Spacings: give 110,000 - 218,000 plants per hectare (44,000- 87,000 plants per acre).

Sprouted pieces will emerge from the ground within 5-10 days, depending on moisture.

Fertiliser

Although ginger is often not fertilised in Jamaica, much higher yields are possible with fertiliser. This is more important with land that is not rested. Twelve to 17 50kg bags per hectare (5-7 bags per acre) of 14-28-14 are normally broadcast and chopped into the soil at refining. 18-18-18 is better for very acidic soil.

Weed Control

Using a hoe, do the first weeding at moulding (6-8 weeks after planting).

Two more weedings may be needed. A machete is best used later to avoid damage to hands.

It is best to avoid land infested with nutgrass as this weed is very difficult to remove. It will pierce the hands and form 'nuts' inside them. It may even reduce the size and yield in infested parts of a field.

Reaping

Plants mature and turn yellow around October/November and dry down by December/January. The reaping period is December to May: Fresh market ginger is reaped first and dried, reaped nearer May.

Loosen soil with a fork, and carefully lift hands and remove soil, to avoid breaking. Animal-drawn ploughs damage and bury hands much more. Wider- row spacing is better if tractors or animal ploughs are used.

Yield

Average yields in central Jamaica are 13-18 tonne (5-7 tons/acre) of green ginger, being lower in sandy soil and for the Tambric type. In India, the main types planted yield similarly to Jamaica; in Hawaii, 44 tonnes (17 ton/acre) is reported, using their larger, green ginger types.

Fresh ginger produces 20 per cent (one-fifth) its weight as peeled, dried ginger.

— Courtesy of the Rural Agricultural Development Authority

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