Curcuma domestica
Family: Zingiberaceae


Turmeric has been used in India for more than 5000 years now. Initially, it was cultivated as a dye as its’ vivid yellow color works brilliantly as a coloring agent. Then its highly developed uses came to know and people started using it for cosmetic and beautification purposes and eventually as a medicine.  Later it became popular as a spice. Originating in India turmeric had reached China by 700 A.D, East Africa by 800 A.D and West Africa by 1200 A.D. Then it had begun to become popular all through the world. It is known that the Arab traders had carried turmeric with them to Europe in the 13th century.

Products and Uses

Turmeric is available in the market as in a whole dried form or in a powdered form. It is also used as an ingredient in the preparation of curry mixtures. Oils and oleoresins are extracted from turmeric which is mainly used as a coloring and flavoring agent in the food industry.
Turmeric is mainly used as a flavoring and coloring agent in the food industry. It is also used as a coloring in textiles and preparation of specific paints. In Ayurvedic and Chinese medicine turmeric is a common ingredient. In India turmeric is largely used as a disinfectant in the day to day life and in religious ceremonies.

Major Growing Areas

Turmeric is grown in wet and intermediate zones of Sri Lanka as a mono-crop and an intercrop under coconut.  Major growing districts are Kurunegala, Gampaha, Kalutara, Kandy Matale and Ampara districts.


Though there are a number of locally grown varieties they are not specially identified. There are imported varieties namely, Gunter, Puna and Madurasi Majal. and they have been mixed with local varieties.

Soils and Climatic needs

Many soil types are suitable. However well-drained sandy clay loam soils rich with organic matter and sandy loam are the most suitable soil types. Poorly drained rocky or clay type soils are not suitable.

Altitude: up to 1500 m
Rainfall: For the successful growth, annual rainfall should be 1500mm or high. However, turmeric can be grown in the dry zone under irrigation.
Temperature: 20 ºC – 35º C
pH – 5.5 – 6.5
Shade: Medium shade is most suitable. High shade declines the yield. Can grow successfully as an intercrop with coconut and banana.
Season: Main season- March April
Minor season – September-October (Mainly in dry area)

Crop establishment

Planting material

There are two types of rhizomes as mother rhizomes and finger rhizomes. Matured finger rhizomes are the most suitable planting material. A piece of the rhizome should be 30-50g in weight and be with 1-2 buds. Planting material should be disease free and selected from a high yielding cultivation. Before planting, rhizomes should be immersed in a fungicide (Mancozeb 30g/10L of water) for about 5 minutes to avoid fungal growth during planting. Planting material requirement is 1500-2000kg/ha.

Field Planting

Turmeric is planted in raised beds or ridges. The field should be ploughed up to 35-40cm in depth and tilling soil is done. Beds are 4ft in width and recommended length is 10ft and it is varying with the space available. However, when intercropped with coconut width and length can be changed according to the available space. The height of the bed is about 20cm and drains, with 30cm in depth, should be prepared in between beds.

Spacing – between rows – 30cm
between plants – 30cm
03 or 04 rows per bed
Planting depth – 5-7.5cm
Planting should be done after the rain. If no adequate moisture beds should be irrigated.

Crop management

To protect moisture and to keep weeds under arrest mulching should be done immediately after planting. Paddy husk, coir dust, dry leaves or Gliricidea leaves are most suitable mulching materials.

Fertilizer recommendation

 TimeOrganic fertilizer (MT/ha)Urea(kg/ha)TSP (kg/ha)MOP (kg/ha)
BasalAt the time of planting20 (50g per bed)100
1st app.After 01 months65100
2nd app.After 03 months65100

Fertilizer is applied after weeding and should be mixed with the soil. After that beds should be mulched. Fertilizer is applied with rain or should be irrigated after fertilizer application.

In addition, gliricidia leaves can be added as an organic fertilizer and thereby can cut down the need for chemical fertilizer and to protect the soil moisture.

Weeding has to be done after one month of planting. The second weeding is done after three months of planting and the beds should be mulched again to protect the moisture. Cleaning drains and earthling up also done with the weeding.

Crop Protection

Leaf blotch
Caused by a fungus. Yellow patches appear first and then spread to the whole leaf.  At the serious stage, leaves look scorched. Agronomic practices and cultural methods are used as protection measures and if the problem is serious Mancozeb-2(30g/10L of water) is sprayed.
Other diseases in turmeric are Leaf sun schorching, leaf rot, and Rhizome rot.


  • Stem borer

Stem borer is the major pest attacks to turmeric cultivation. Adult moth lays eggs in leaf sheaths and caterpillar enters to the pseudostem and damages the internal tissues of the plant. Initially, plants become yellow then turn into brown and die. Dead heart symptom is the clear evidence to identify the presence of stem borer. Damaged plant parts have to be destroyed to control the spread and if the condition is serious, recommended insecticide has to be sprayed.

Leaf rolling caterpillars and scale insects are other minor pest attacks.

Harvesting and Post Harvest practices

Harvesting is done after 8-10 months of planting. If planted in March-April Season turmeric is ready to be harvested by December – January. During that time plants become yellow in color and start leaves drying. Harvesting is done with care not to damage rhizomes and attached soil clusters should be removed with a wooden stick.

Mother and finger rhizomes should be separated, washed thoroughly and remove all stem parts. They should be left for about a day for wilting. Mother rhizomes should be cut into pieces. Rhizomes should be boiled well in a closed pot filled with ¾ of water for 30 minutes. When boiled properly rhizomes become tender. Instead of water steam boiling can also be applied. Pressure cookers can also be used to boil a few kilograms of turmeric. Boiled rhizomes should be left in-door for about a day and then put for sun drying. Drying in the first three days is limited to 3-4 hours and after that continues drying is a must. Whole drying process requires 10-15 days. When dried properly, metallic sound can be heard. Dried rhizomes are rubbed on a rough surface to become them to bright yellow in color.

Standard quality specifications

Extraneous matter (to physical weight)0.5%
Essential oil3-5%

Source: SLSI

Medicinal and Chemical Properties

The main chemical compound in turmeric is curcumin. Curcumin content varies from 2-6% depending on the species, Agro climatic conditions

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