Welcome to Directorate of Arecanut and Spices Development
Climate: Nigella is a cool season crop and is cultivated in the northern plains during winter season. Fairly warm weather during sowing with a temperature of 20-25ºC is desirable. Cold weather is congenial for the early growth period and crop requires warm sunny weather during seed formation and maturity.

Soil: Nigella can thrive on wide range of soils, which are rich in organic matter and free from water logging. However, loamy, medium to heavy soils with better fertility level are most suitable. The land should get sufficient sunlight free from shade. The place should be airy with good provision of irrigation water. Soil pH range near about neutral reaction but can be grown well on soil pH of 5 – 8. However Loamy, medium to heavy soils with better fertility level are most favourable.

Improved varieties: Ajmer Nigella-20, AN-1 Azad Kalongi, Rajendra Shyama, Pant Krishna, NS – 44, NS – 32, and Kalajeera

Preparation of land: The field should be well prepared for getting good germination, growth and yield. About 2-3 ploughing are required, first ploughing should be done by soil turning plough followed by light ploughing by harrow or cultivator.The soil should be prepared well for getting better tilth. The surface of field should be well leveled and smooth which may be divided into convenient size of beds. Pre sowing irrigation should be given for better and uniform germination of seeds.

Time of sowing: Optimum time for seed sowing is mid September to mid October. The seed can be sown up to November. However, good yield are obtained when sowing is done in time. Late sown crop give poor yield.

Seed rate: The crop is raised through seeds and 5-7 kg seed required for sowing in one ha in different states.

Seed treatment: To check the incidence of soil borne diseases, the seeds should be treated with Bavistin or captan or thiram @ 2.5 g/kg seed  or Trichoderma @ 6.0g/kg sed before sowing.

Sowing method: The crop can be sown by two methods i.e. line sowing and broadcasting. However, line sowing is better because it facilitates inter culture operations and plant protection measures. The seeds are sown 1.5-2.0 cm deep at row spacing of 30 cm and plant-to-plant spacing of 15 cm. If initial moisture is less, light irrigation can be given and seeds germinate within 10 days after sowing. Care should be taken at irrigation that water does not flow too fast in the beds otherwise seeds may be carried away and gather towards bunds resulting in the uneven distribution of the plants.

Manures and fertilizers: The manure and fertilizers should be applied based on soil testing report of fertility status. In general add 5-10 tons of well decomposed FYM or compost prior to field preparation. In addition, 40 kg N, 20 kg P2 O5 and 20 kg K2 O should be applied through fertilizers. Total quantity of phosphorus, potash and 1/3 dose of nitrogen should be applied as basal dose while rest of the nitrogen in two equal split, first at 30 days after sowing, while rest at flowering as top dressing in standing crop. If initial crop growth is poor, 1.0 % solution of urea can be sprayed after 3 weeks of sowing.

Weed Management:
Nigella seeds germinate within 10 days so initially crop should be keep weed free for better growth of plants. Field should be keep clean and weed free during 30 – 60 days of sowing by hand weeding. Nigella requires only 2 – 3 hoeing and weeding. First at 30 days and  second on 60 days after sowing, If required third weeding can be done. During first weeding the plants should also be thinned to the desired distance. Pre-emergence application of Oxadiargyl @ 0.075 kg/ha or Pendimethalin @ 0.75 to 1.0 ka/ha after dissolving in 400-500 liters of water is recommended.

If soil moisture is not sufficient at the time of sowing, a light irrigation can be given just after sowing for proper germination. Subsequent irrigation be given at 15-25 days intervals depending on climate and soil conditions. In all 3–5 irrigations are sufficient to raise the crop. Precaution should be taken during irrigation that water flow should be slow to escape flowing of soil and seed with irrigation water. Most critical stages for irrigation are flowering and seed formation. Therefore crop should not be allowed to face water stress at flowering and seed formation stages. Excess moisture causes root rot so irrigation should be given as per requirement of crop.

Plant Protection

Aphid: Aphids are major yield reducing factor of crops at all growing areas. Aphids suck the sap from the young growing twigs, flower buds & fruits and devitalize the plants. The population start developing on the crop during vegetative stages but heavy populations develop during flowering and fruiting stages there by causes significant losses in yield at harvest of the crop and also affect oil content on seeds . Timely management of aphids is necessary to prevent the crop from economic losses.
  •     Apply only recommended dose of fertilizers and irrigation. Excessive use of nitrogenous fertilizers and irrigation make plant succulent and help in higher aphids population build up on the plants.
  •     At early colonization of aphids, spraying of botanical insecticides like Neem Seed Kernal Extract (NSKE) at 5%, Neem oil 2 % give good control and prevent the buildup of large colony on the plants for some time.
  •     In case of higher population development spraying of either of Dimethoate 0.03%, Metasystox 0.03%, Imidachlorprid 0.005% or Thiomethoxam 0.025% give effective control . Repeats the spray in 15 to 20 days after first application if necessary.
Capsule Borer :Borer infestation starts at fruit forming stages. The borers attack young fruits, capsules and bore inside the fruit. Damaged capsule fail to form seed in it. Early detection and appropriate control measures should be necessary to prevent damage of borers on crop.
Control:I t can be controlled by application of Endosulfan 0.03 %, or Chloropyriphos 0.04%. Spraying should be done twice or thrice at interval of 10-12 days. If the infestation is detected at early stage hand picking and destruction of larva should be advised to check the population of the borer.

Termites: This insect damage Nigella crop generally at full vegetative growth stage by cut the plant stem near soil surface and falls down. Initially plant look like lodging but ultimately die. To monitor this insect regular field inspection should be made to detect the appearance of the pest.
Control: Application of Phorate 10G@ 10kg/ha or Fenvalrate Dust 1% @25 kg/ha in the soil near the base of the plant can be useful to bring this pest under control.Broadcast chloropyriphos 20 E.C. @4 lit./ha mixed with sand is also effective control of termites.

Diseases: Root rot is major disease of Nigella plant. Affected plant show wilted symptom and die within 10-20 days of infection. The seeds treatment with Trichoderma, 4 g/kg seed or carbendazim @ 1gm/kg proves effective in control of disease.

Harvesting and yield: The crop matures in 135-150 days after sowing. It should be harvested when the seed attained full maturity in capsule and have turned to full brown/black colour. The delay in harvesting may cause shattering of seeds. Average seeds yield of 5-10 quintals can be obtained from one hectare of land. The seeds are separated by rubbing plants or by stick beating. The seeds thereafter are winnowed and dried.