Harvest maturity varies according to the end use. If the rhizomes are for vegetable use or for the preparation of such products as ginger preserves and candy, harvesting should be done 4 to 5 months after planting. For dry ginger production and for distillation of oil or solvent extraction of oleoresin, harvesting is done 8 to 9 months after planting. Harvesting is delayed at higher elevations, in cooler climates, and under irrigation. Maturity studies were conducted in four cultivars at seven stages starting from 165 to 270 days after planting. Dry ginger recovery was highly correlated with crop duration. Dry ginger recovery was highest at 270 days after planting, and a dry recovery around 20 percent is essential to obtain an attractive marketable product. The percentage of oleoresin, oil, and fiber contents was highest at 165 days after planting, whereas the yield per hectare of oleoresin and oil varied with cultivars, and the highest was found at 270, 195, 225, and 225 days after planting in cultivars Rio de Janeiro, Maran, Kuruppampady, and Wynad local, respectively. For vegetable purposes, the crop could be harvested from 6 months onward (Nybe and Nair, 1978)
Jayachandran et al. (1980) noted highest yield of green ginger/plant at 7 months when the percentage of the contents of oleoresin and volatile oil was also highest. Dry ginger recovery, however, was highest at 8 months, when the starch content was maximal and the crude fiber content minimal. Nybe et al. (1982) evaluated 25 ginger cultivars at Vellanikkara, India, for their yields of fresh rhizome, drying percentage, oleoresin, oil, and crude fiber contents. Cv. Nadia gave the highest yield of fresh rhizomes (28,554 kg/ha) and dry ginger (6,453 kg/ha). Cv. Rio de Janeiro contained the highest oleoresin (10.5 percent), followed by Maran (see Figure 5.9). Ratnambal et al. (1987) reported that although the percentage contents of essential oil and oleoresin decreased with increasing maturity, the final yield per hectare of these two quality components was highest at full maturity. Cultivars Maran, Ernad, Chernad, and Nadia are recommended for fresh rhizome production, and Maran, Ernad, Chernad, Karakkal, and Nadia are recommended for dry ginger production.
Pawar and Patil (1990) observed that the dry weight of rhizomes per plant and green ginger yield were highest when the crop was harvested 8 months after planting. Mohanty et al. (1990) observed that of the seven cultivars tested, Suprabha and S-646 gave the
highest yields (>28 t/ha) and Rio de Janeiro the lowest yield (10.62 t/ha). Roy and Wamanan (1990) observed that yield was correlated with shoot height, leaves/clump, and tillers/clump. Pandey and Dobhal (1993) reported that the plant height, number of fingers, and yield/plant were positively correlated with each other and with most of the other traits. Path coefficient analysis revealed that the weight of fingers, number of fingers, width of fingers, and leaf width had a direct effect on yield. The weight of fingers also had a positive indirect effect on yield.
Patiram et al. (1995) reported that ginger is harvested twice in Sikkim. In the first stage during May and June, the mother or seed rhizomes are harvested. This harvested product (mau in the local language) is of inferior quality. The main harvesting comes 7 to 8 months after planting and continues up to January. Rai and Anita (1997) also recorded the mother rhizome extraction practiced by local farmers for many years in the hills of Sikkim and Darjeeling, India. By extracting the mother rhizome, farmers get back their investment on seed rhizome even if there is a severe outbreak of rhizome rot disease. The mother rhizome has equal market value as freshly harvested ginger because of the large size of rhizomes (100 to 500 g) planted. The wound created while detaching the mother rhizome may serve as an entry point for pathogens. Airdrying, packing in 250-gauge low density polyethylene (LDPE) bags followed by irradiation at 60 Gy keep the rhizomes in good marketable condition for up to 2 months at ambient temperature without sprouting or significant loss of quality and less than 5 percent weight loss.
Singh et al. (1999) observed that the cvs. Thingladium, Nadia, and Khasi local had the highest rhizome yields (more than 30 t/ha) under the conditions of Nagaland, India. The lowest rhizome yield was recorded in Tura and HP 666 (less than 20 t/ha). Cvs. Thinglaidum, Nadia, and Rio de Janeiro had the highest fiber and oil contents.
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