Ginger Production Guide for Beginner
Ginger (Zingiber officinale Roscoe) is popular tor its distinct sharp and hot flavor due to an oily substance called gingerol. It is known as ‘luya’ in Tagalog, ‘shoga’ (Japanese), ‘chiang’ (Chinese), ‘jingibre’ (Spanish), ‘gingembre’ (French), and ‘zanjabil’ (Arabic). It has an aerial part of about 0.8 m high, which could grow up to 1.5 m tall (in Costa Rica, Hawaii, and Honduras) and a finger-like perennial underground part or rhizomes called hands.
The top producing countries are India, China, Indonesia, Nigeria, and Thailand. In 2006, the area planted to ginger in the Philippines was 3,916 hectares (ha) with a total production of 27,261 tons (t). Cagayan Valley was the largest producer (5,566 t), followed by Calabarzon (4,969 t), and Northern Mindanao (4,029 t). Ginger is exported to Japan, Germany, Hong Kong, Britain, and Northern Ireland.
Uses and Nutritional Value
Ginger can be consumed fresh, dehydrated, powdered, or pickled. ‘Salabat,’ or ginger tea, a popular hot drink, is made from boiled fresh ginger or powdered ginger. Ginger adds flavor to some common Filipino dishes like tinola, goto, arroz caldo, paksiw, batchoy, and pinakbet. It is also used as an ingredient in the manufacture of perfumes and softdrinks and in the preparation of preserves, candies, and pickles. The Chinese consider ginger as the yang of hot/spicy food, which balances cold meals. It is also considered as ying for creating harmony.
Ginger stimulates gastric juice secretion and relieves cough and flu. It is also used to treat migraine, travel sickness, and rheumatoid arthritis. It is known to improve blood circulation and reduce fat deposits in the arteries. In India, ginger is used in the preparation of many ayurvedic formulations, ‘ayurveda’ being the traditional Indian medical discipline. The curative properties of ginger come from the volatile oil that contains cingibereno, cingiberol, borneol, felandreno, citral, cineol, starch, mucilage, and resin, among other substances.
Per 100 grams (g) edible portion, ginger contains: Energy, Protein, Fiber, Ash, Calcium, Phosphorus, Iron, Thiamine, Riboflavin, Niacin and Ascorbic acid.
Ginger Production Guide
Ginger varieties differ in size and shape of rhizomes, yield, moisture content, quality, and flavor. The following are the more common varieties in the Philippines with their corresponding rhizome characteristics:
Native – Small, fibrous, very pungent, best for making salabat
Red Native – Small, red, fibrous, very pungent
Imugan – Medium-sized, slightly fibrous, pungent
Hawaiian – Large, plump, yellowish brown, less pungent
Jamaica “Oya” – Medium-sized, pale-colored, gives off pleasant, agreeable aroma in dehydrated form
Canton or Chinese Large, yellowish, succulent, less fibrous, less pungent
Soil and Climate Requirements
Ginger can be grown in flat to slightly rolling areas with well-drained, light to medium textured soil high in organic matter and pH of 6.8-7.0. It can grow in elevations of up to 1,500 meters (m) above sea level with about 200-300 cm annual rainfall evenly distributed throughout the year and a temperature range of 25 -35°C. It grows well even with 25-40% shading.
About 800 to 1,500 kg seedpieces are required per hectare. Store ginger roots under shade and cover with banana or coconut leaves. Select healthy rhizomes with sprouts or eyes just before planting. Cut into pieces with 3-4 sprouts each.
The seedpieces may also be pre-germinated for uniform growth. Prepare raised beds of any desired length measuring 1 m wide and 20 cm high. Line sow the seedpieces 2 cm apart and cover with a mixture of compost and coir dust. Water as needed. Transplant when the sprouts are about 1-2 cm long. New varieties can also be propagated by micropropagation or tissue culture to increase the rate of multiplication.
Clear the area of bushes or stubbles of previous crop to facilitate land preparation. These can be used in compost piles and should not be burned.
Plow the field twice then harrow to pulverize the soil. Make furrows 1 m apart. Incorporate fully decomposed chicken manure at 3-5 t/ha.
Planting is done at the start of the rainy season, usually April to May. In areas with abundant supply of water throughout the year, planting can be done anytime. Distribute pre-germinated seed pieces in furrows 30 cm apart and cover lightly with soil. In small-scale plantings, mulch with rice straw or coconut leaves. Ginger is usually intercropped with perennial crops such as coconut and coffee. Multiple cropping of ginger (0.3 m x 3 m), papaya (3 m x 3 m), pineapple (0.3 m x 0.75 m), and tomato (1.0 m x 3.0 m) is a common practice in Cavite.
Ginger takes up large amounts of nutrients. The general fertilizer requirement is 180 kg/ha N, 180 kg/ha P,05, and 255 kg/ha K.O. The considerably high K requirement makes ginger sensitive to low K supply. A hectare of ginger requires 11.5 bags 14-14-14 and 4 bags 0-0-60 in addition to 5 t/ha chicken or animal manure. Incorporate manure during furrow preparation and apply inorganic fertilizers as sidedress at 30 and 60 days after planting.
Ginger requires light but frequent irrigation during the vegetative stage, if rainfall is not evenly distributed. Depending on soil type and seasonal rainfall, irrigation varies from 4 to 7 days.
Ginger generally requires regular hand weeding during its growth period. Hand weed 1 month after planting. The frequency of subsequent weeding depends on weed density. Mulch with coconut leaves or rice straw to suppress weed growth.
Pest and Disease Management
Cutworms, scale insects, and aphids are common ginger pests, but they do not cause significant yield losses. Leaf spot, rhizome rot, and bacterial wilt are some of the major diseases. Ginger is tolerant to leafspot. Rhizome rot can be prevented by strict sanitation and use of Trichoderma as part of organic fertilization. During storage, separate healthy rhizomes from shriveled and discolored ones. Bacterial wilt infection can be avoided by planting in bacterial wilt-free areas. Pull out infected plants and burn.
Harvest ginger when the leaves turn yellow and wither. This is about 8-10 months after planting, depending on the variety used. To harvest, dig each hill with a spading fork or a hoe, pull the entire plant, shake off the soil, lay on top of the bed, and cut off the stem without breaking the rhizomes. Care should be practiced during harvesting to minimize injury that results to faster weight loss and susceptibility to decay.
Harvest according to the following market requirements: Market/Product Forms = Harvesting Period (months after planting)
domestic market = 8-11
salted and pickled 5-7 pickled (for export) = 3
dehydrated = 6-8
fresh ginger (for export) = 7-10
Cleaning/Washing. Trim off the shoots and roots and clean the rhizomes immediately after harvest. Wash the rhizomes first to remove soil particles then wash again in water with sodium hypochlorite prepared at 1 drop of 30% sodium hypochlorite per 3.8 L water to disinfect the rhizome and heal the wound faster. Air-dry the rhizomes after washing.
Curing. Cure the rhizomes first under 90% relative humidity and 25°-30°C for 9 days. If available, spray or dip the rhizomes in fruit wax to prevent shriveling.
Grading. Classify rhizomes according to size, weight, and appearance. Select healthy rhizomes and discard those that are infected with diseases.
The size classification for ginger is as follows:
Class I – Large > 3oo g
Class II – Medium 150-300 g
Class III – Small <150 g
Storage after curing. Store only clean and healthy rhizomes. Keep the 10-month old rhizomes under 7.2°C and the younger rhizomes at 13°C. Maintain relative humidity at 75% to minimize weight loss, sprouting, and rotting.
In areas where cold storage is not available, farmers keep their harvest in 2-m deep pits of up to 2 t capacity. These pits, covered with banana or coconut leaves, are located under the shade in backyards. Through this practice, ginger rhizomes can be kept for a year.
Ginger is generally sold in the local market by the “kaing”, can, sack, kilo, pile or “tumpok”, or by piece. In the export market, ginger is sold in fresh, preserved, or dried forms. Dried – ginger comprises more than 50% of the ginger sold in the foreign market. It is classified as peeled, unpeeled, whole, or split.