About the crop
Cinnamon (Cinnamomum zeylanicum) of commerce is the dried bark of the plant
cinnamon. The spice is light brown in colour and has a delicately fragrant aroma
and warm, sweet flavour. It is lighter in colour and milder in flavour than the
other related species. In Egypt, it was sought for embalming and witchcraft; in
medieval Europe for religious rites and as flavouring. References to cinnamon are
plenty throughout the Old Testament in the Bible. Later it was the most profitable
spice in the Dutch East India Company trade. Commercial part of this tree spice
is bark and leaf. Cinnamon is native to Sri Lanka (Ceylon), and Myanmar (Burma)
and also cultivated in South America and the West Indies.
Cinnamon is a bushy evergreen tree (6-8 m tall) belong to the family Lauraceae,
cultivated as low bushes to ease the harvesting process. The leaves are long (10-18
cm), leathery and shining green on upper surface when mature. The flowers have a
fetid, disagreeable smell. The fruit is a dark purple, one-seeded berry. It prefers
shelter and moderate rainfall without extremes in temperature. Eight to ten lateral
branches grow on each bush and after three years they are harvested. The Sri Lankan
farmer harvests his main crop in the wet season, cutting the shoots close to the
ground. In processing, the shoots are first scraped with a semicircular blade, then
rubbed with a brass rid to loosen the bark, which is split with a knife and peeled.
The peels are telescoped one into another forming a quill about 107 cm (42 inches)
long and filled with trimming of the same quality bark to maintain the cylindrical
shape. After four or five days of drying, the quills are rolled on a board to tighten
the filling and then placed in subdued sunlight for further drying.
Climate and soil
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.
Since it is mostly raised as a rainfed crop, an annual rainfall of 200-250 cm is
Navasree, Nithyasree and Sugandini.
Variety - Sugandhini (ODC-130)
Cinnamon is usually propagated through seeds. Under West Coast conditions, cinnamon
flowers in January and the fruits ripen during June-August. The fully ripened fruits
are either picked up from the tree or the fallen ones are collected from the ground.
The seeds are removed from the fruits, washed free of pulp, and sown without much
delay as the seeds have a low viability. The seeds are sown in sand beds or polythene
bags containing a mixture of sand, well rotten cattle manure and soil (3:3:1). The
seeds start to germinate within 15-20 days. Frequent irrigation is required for
maintaining adequate moisture. The seedlings require artificial shading till they
are about 6 months old.
For raising cinnamon from cuttings; semi hardwood cuttings of about 10 cm length
with 2 leaves are taken and dipped in IBA 2000 ppm and planted either in polythene
bags filled with sand or a mixture of sand and coir dust in the ratio 1:1 or in
sand beds raised in a shaded place. The cuttings in polythene bags must also be
kept in a shaded place or in a nursery. The cuttings are to be watered regularly
2-3 times a day for maintaining adequate moisture and prevent wilting. Rooting takes
place in 45-60 days. The well-rooted cuttings can be transplanted to polythene bags
filled with potting mixture and maintained in a shaded place and watered regular.
Air layering of cinnamon is done on semi hardwood shoots. A ring of bark is removed
from the semi hardwood portion of the shoot and a rooting hormone (IBA 2000 ppm
or IAA 2000 ppm) is applied on the portion where the bark has been removed. Moist
coir dust or coir husk is placed around the region where the hormone has been applied
and is secured in position by wrapping with a polythene sheet of 20 cm length. This
would also avoid moisture loss.
Rooting takes place in 40-60 days. The well rooted air layers are separated from
the mother plant and bagged in polythene bags filled with potting mixture and kept
in a shaded place or nursery by watering the plants twice daily. The rooted cuttings
and layers can be planted in the main field with the onset of rains.
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. The
area for planting cinnamon is cleared and 50 cm x 50 cm x 50 cm size pits are dug
at a spacing of 3 m x 3 m. They are then filled with compost and topsoil before
Cinnamon is planted during June-July to take advantage of the monsoon for the establishment
of seedlings. For transplanting, 10-12 months old seedlings or well rooted cuttings
or air layers are used. In each pit 3-4 seedlings or rooted cuttings or air layers
can be planted. In some cases, the seeds are directly dibbled in the pits that are
filled with compost and soil. Partial shade in the initial years is advantageous
for healthy, rapid growth of plants.
Weeding should be done regularly in the early stages of growth. Two weedings in
an year during June-July and October-November, and one digging of the soil around
the bushes during August-September is recommended.
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.
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
Cinnamon butterfly (Chilasa clytia)
The cinnamon butterfly is the most serious pest of cinnamon especially in younger
plantations and in the nursery and is generally seen during the post monsoon period.
The adults are large sized butterflies and occur in two forms. One of the forms
has blackish brown wings with white spots on outer margins; the other form has black
wings with bluish white markings. Fully-grown larvae are pale yellow with dark stripes
on the sides and measure about 2.5 cm in length.
The larvae feed on tender and slightly mature leaves; in severe cases of infestation,
the entire plant is defoliated and only midribs of leaves with portions of veins
are left behind.
The pest can be controlled by spraying quinalphos 0.05% on tender and partly mature
Leaf miner (Conopomorpha civica)
Infestation by the leaf miner is more common during the monsoon period and generally
nursery seedlings are seriously affected. The adult is a minute silvery gray moth.
The larvae are pale gray initially and later become pink measuring about 10 mm in
Larvae feed on the tissues between the upper and lower epidermis of tender leaves
resulting in linear mines that end in 'blister' like patches. The infested leaves
become crinkled and the mined areas dry up leading to the formation of large holes
on the leaves.
Spraying quinalphos 0.05% during emergence of new flushes is effective in preventing
the pest infestation. Many other leaf feeding caterpillars and beetles also occur
sporadically on cinnamon feeding on tender flushes. Application of quinalphos 0.05%
would keep them under check.
Leaf spot and dieback disease (Colletotrichum
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 fungus causes light brown patches on the stem, which girdle the stem and cause
death of seedlings. The disease can be controlled by spraying Bordeaux mixture 1%.
Grey blight (Pestalotiopsis palmarum)
It is characterized by small brown spots which later turn grey with brown border.
The disease can be controlled by spraying Bordeaux mixture 1%.
The plants will be ready for harvest in about 3 years after planting. Harvesting
is done during two seasons, in May and 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
Cinnamon oleoresin is prepared by extracting cinnamon bark with organic solvent.
Oleoresin yield varies from 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