Being a hardy plant, Cinnamon is adapted to a wide range of climatic conditions. It grows well at an altitude of about 1,000m and an annual rainfall of 200-250cm is ideal for its cultivation. Cinnamon is commercially cultivated as a rainfed crop.
Cinnamon is adapted to a wide range of soils ranging from nutrient rich loamy soils to poor sandy loam soils.
Seed propagation and vegetative propagation through cuttings and air layers are generally practiced in cinnamon.
In Western Ghats, cinnamon flowers in January and fruits ripen during June�August. Fruits are collected from the tree and then seeds are removed and cleaned and sown without much delay as cinnamon seeds have very low viability. Seeds are sown in sand beds or polythene bags containing a mixture of sand, soil and well-powdered dried cow dung in a 3:3:1 ratio. Watering is done regularly and the seeds germinate within 10-20 days. The seedlings require artificial shading till they become 6 months old.
Ideal time for cinnamon seedlings are at the onset of south-West monsoons. The pits of 50cm X 50cm X 50cm size are dug at a spacing of 3m - 3m and are filled with compost and top soil before planting. Generally one year old seedlings are planted. 4 -5 seedlings are planted per pit and adequate shade is provided for the seedlings until they get established
Two weeding in a year (June-July and October-November) and one digging of soil around the bushes (during August-September) are done.
A fertilizer dose of 20g N, 18g P2O5 and 25g K2O/seedling is recommended for the first year. This dose is increased gradually to 200g N, 180g P2O5 and 200g K2O for grown-up plants of 10 years and above. The fertilizers are to be applied in 2 equal split doses in May-June and September-October.
Cinnamon is a rainfed crop. But an annual rainfall of 200-250cm is ideal. In the initial 2-3 years, watering is given during summer months twice a week. The quantity of water depends upon the soil moisture level and growth of plants.
Coppicing is a practice of cutting back the height of the cinnamon trees to a desired height in a commercial plantation so as to manage the plantation more effectively. Two-year-old plants are coppiced during June-July to a height of about 15cm from the stump. Afterwards, main stem produces a bunch of side shoots and subsequently the plants assume the shape of a low bush of about 2m height and a bunch of canes suitable for peeling crop up in a period of about 4 years. Regular peeling operations could be commenced in case of seedling bushes, from fourth or fifth year, depending upon the extent of development of peeler shoots. Usually coppicing is done in alternate years.
Ideal time for harvesting shoots is from September to November. Side shoots having finger thickness and uniform brown colour are ideal for bark extraction. A test cut can be made on the stem with a sharp knife to judge the suitability of time of peeling. If the bark separates readily, the cutting can be commenced immediately. The stems are cut close to the ground when they are about 2 years old, as straight as possible, 1.0-1.25m length and 1.25cm thickness. Harvested shoots are bundled together and transported to the pack house for further post harvest procedures.
Scraping and peeling of the inner barks from the shoots are carried out at the pack houses. The peeling is a specialized operation, requiring some skill and considerable experience. It is done by using a specially made knife, which has a small and round end with projection in one side to facilitate ripping of the bark. The rough outer bark is first scrapped off. Then with brass rod, the scrapped portion is polished to facilitate easy peeling. A longitudinal slit is made from one end to the other. Then working the knife between the bark and wood, the bark is ripped quickly. The shoots cut in the morning are peeled on the same day. The peels are gathered and kept overnight under shade.
Peels are dried first in shade for a day and then in the sunlight for 4 days. During drying, the bark contracts and assumes the shape of quill. The smaller quills are inserted into larger ones to form compound quills.
Major grades of cinnamon rolls are quills, quillings, featherings, scrapped chips and unscrapped chips. The quills are graded from '00000' being the finest quality, to '0' the coarsest quality. The small pieces of the bark, left after preparing the quills are graded as 'quillings'. The very thin inner pieces of bark are dried as 'featherings'. From the coarser canes, the bark is scrapped off, instead of peeling, and this grade is known as 'scrapped chips'. The bark is also scrapped off without removing the outer bark and is known as 'unscrapped chips'.
Different grades of cinnamon rolls are used for ground cinnamon. Ground cinnamon or cinnamon powder are prepared by grinding the dried cinnamon rolls into a fine powder.Cinnamon powder are graded based on the grade of the cinnamon rolls used for powdering.