Today, Let us talk abaout Citronella Farming, Citronella oil uses, extraction.
Citronella is a medicinal grass which has a very good aroma. It belongs to the family of Poaceae. Various components present in the oil of Citronella are used in the cosmetic industry, in recipes as flavouring add-ons, the industry of perfumes all across the world. The Citronella oils are a combination of monoterpenoids, phenylpropanoids, monoterpenes, which contain mainly limonene, geraniol, geranyl acetate, linalool, α-bisabolol, citronella etc. This herb is the one which is found in many places in India. The climatic conditions, soil conditions and even the species of plants present in the land will affect the components of the oil. The oil, which is abstracted from Citronella plant has less content of aldehyde in it which makes it less soluble.
Benefits of Citronella:
- This oil is an insect repellant and works against all the mosquito species which cause malaria. This is the feature which makes this oil unique.
- It also has anti-fungal properties.
- Due to the presence of Bioactive components present in the oil, they act as anti-inflammatory agents, anti-cancer agents, anticonvulsant agents and anti-oxidant agents and play a vital role in the improvement of the health of human beings.
Selection of land:
This is the most important aspect to be taken care of to get a good growth of the citronella and extraction of oil. To cultivate citronella, the land must have a soil which is well-drained, fertile and also deep. The soil needs to have a pH level of 6.5 with 1.55 of organic matter and a field holding capacity of 38%.
Read: Vanilla Farming.
The slips will be planted in an area of 100 square meters at a distance of 80×60 cms for good irrigation to take place. Then the plants will be provided with the most important fertilizer nitrogen, phosphorus and Potassium. 178 kgs of Nitrogen, 78 kgs of Phosphorus and 48 kgs of potassium will be used to fertilize the plants in a proper way for four times on a yearly basis. Before the plantation starts, approximately 6 tanks of cow dung will be applied to the soil. The best time of the plantation is in the rainy season, subtropical climates. The plantation can also be done from December ending to the start of March and between June and July. The percentage of growth of the crops increase during these months as there would be no or fewer weeds due to the control in the moisture of the soil.
Control of weeds:
- The plants of citronella are prone to weeds in the starting months of the cultivation. The weeds will increase in the rainy season and hence they should be maintained free of weed for the first two and a half months for good growth. The weeds should be removed manually by handwork process which is done regionally. It is better to work on the weeds until the plants get established completely.
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Pests and Diseases:
The diseases which affect Citronella are Leaf blight and Anthracnose. The sprays which can control the disease of leaf blight are Dithane M-45 or Z-78. By the application of Dithiocarbamate, Anthracnose can be controlled.
Irrigation and Harvesting:
This crop needs irrigation on a regular basis in the period where there are no rains. It uses a large extent of water for its growth. During the winters, the interval of irrigation should be two weeks and during the summer, it should be 9 days to get a good yield.
In the span of 12 months, three cuttings will be obtained after the 6 months of planting. As the blades of the lead will have more oil content than the sheath, so the harvesting will be done 20 cms above the level of the ground. The yield of optimum oil will be obtained after the sixth leaf is established well. After the first year’s harvest, there should be a gap of 75 days for the next harvest.
Extraction of Essential oil:
Read: Tulsi Cultivation Practices.
The leaves which are harvested freshly will be taken for the process of distillation. These will be spread in the shade or will be dried in the sun for one day to decrease the level of moisture in the leaves. To extract the oil, the herbs will go through steam distillation and this process will take at least 4-5 hours by using a plant which is boiler operated.