CINNAMON (Cinnamomum zeylanicum)
Cinnamon grows in areas up to an altitude of about 1800 m. Humid tropical evergreen rain forest conditions favour the best growth of cinnamon. Well-drained, deep sandy soil, rich in humus is suitable for the crop. Avoid marshy areas and hard laterites.
Navasree, Nithyasree and Sugandini.
Seeds and sowing
Cinnamon is usually propagated through seeds. Sow seeds immediately after harvest on raised beds. Pot seedlings when they are six months old.
Select seedlings with green leaf petioles. Plant seedlings in the main field when they are 1-2 year old with the commencement of southwest monsoon. Planting is done in pits of size 60 x 60 cm at a spacing of 2 x 2 m. Dig the pits sufficiently early to allow weathering. Fill the pit with leaf mould and topsoil before planting.
Apply N:P2O5:K2O @ 20:20:25 g/seedling in the first year and double this dose in the second year. Cattle manure or compost at 20 kg / plant / annum may also be applied. Increase the dose of N:P2O5:K2O gradually to 200:180:200 g / tree / year for grown up plants of 10 years and above.
Apply organic manures in May-June and fertilizers in two equal split doses, in May-June and September-October.
Weed regularly in the early stages of growth. Irrigate the seedlings till they get established, if there is long drought period.
Prune plants when they are 2-3 years old at a height of 15 cm above ground level. Cut the side shoots growing from the base to encourage growth of more side shoots till the whole plant assumes the shape of a low bush.
Harvesting and curing
The plants will be ready for harvest in about 3 years after planting. Harvesting is done during two seasons, the first in May and second in November. The correct time for cutting the shoots for peeling is determined by noting the sap circulation between the wood and corky layer. Peelers can judge this by making a test cut on the stem with a sharp knife. If the bark separates readily, the cutting is taken immediately. Stems measuring 2.0 to 2.5 cm in diameter and 1.5 to 2.0 m length are cut early in the morning and twigs and leaves are detached. The outer brown skin is first scrapped off and the stem is rubbed briskly to loosen the bark. Two cuts are made round the stem about 30 cm apart and two longitudinal slits are made on opposite sides of the stem. The bark is separated from the wood with curved knife. The detached pieces of bark are made into compound quills. The best and longest quills are used on the outside while inside is filled with smaller pieces. The compound quills are rolled by hand to press the outside edges together and are neatly trimmed. They are dried in shade as direct exposure to sun can result in warping. The dried quills consist of mixture of coarse and fine types and are yellowish brown in colour.
The quills are graded as Fine or Continental, Mexican and Hamburg or Ordinary. The Fine consists of quills of uniform thickness, colour and quality and the joints of the quills are neat. Mexican grades are intermediate in quality. The Hamburg grade consists of thicker and darker quills. The lower grades are exported as: (a) Quillings: The broken lengths and fragments of quills of all grades are bulked and sold as quillings; (b) Featherings: This grade consists of the inner bark of twigs and twisted shoots that do not give straight quills of normal length.
Chips: This includes the trimmings of the cut shoots, shavings of outer and inner bark, which cannot be separated, or which are obtained from small twigs and odd pieces of thick outer bark.
Cinnamon oleoresin is prepared by extracting cinnamon bark with organic solvent. Oleoresin yield varies form 10 to 12 per cent. The oleoresin is dispersed on sugar, salt and used for flavouring processed foods.
Cinnamon bark oil
A pale yellow liquid possessing the delicate aroma of the spice is obtained by steam distillation of quills (0.2 to 0.5%). Its major component is cinnamaldehyde (55%) but other components like eugenol, eugenyl acetate, ketones, esters and terpenes also impart the characteristic odour and flavour to this oil. Cinnamon bark oil is used in flavouring bakery foods, sauces, pickles, confectionery, soft drinks, dental and pharmaceutical preparations and also in perfumery.
Cinnamon leaf oil
Cinnamon leaf oil is produced by steam distillation of leaves yielding 0.5 to 0.7% oil. It is yellow to brownish yellow in colour and possesses a warm, spicy but rather harsh odour. The major constituent is eugenol (70 to 90 %) while the cinnamaldehyde content is less than five per cent. The oil is used in perfumery and flavouring, and also as a source of eugenol.
Cinnamon root bark oil
The root bark contains 1.0 to 2.8% oil containing camphor as the main constituent. Cinnamaldehyde as well as traces of eugenol are found in the oil, having less commercial relevance.
Leaf spot and dieback disease (Colletotrichum gloeosporioides)
On young nursery seedlings, small brown specks appear which gradually enlarge resulting in drying of the leaf. From the leaves, the infection spreads to the stem, resulting in necrosis from the apex downwards.
On old seedlings and mature trees, light and dark brown concentric zonation occurs. Spraying 1% Bordeaux mixture during rainy season controls the disease.
The other diseases of cinnamon include grey blight caused by Pestalotiopsis palmarum, sooty mould caused by Phragmocapnius sp. and algal leaf spot by Cephaleuros sp.