Cardamom plants have 9-10 pickings per season starting from July and extending up to April. Lower summer rains and delayed monsoon rains lead to delayed flower setting and lower yield. It takes 90 days for the flower to turn into a fruit. The summer was harsh in Idukki which produces bulk of the cardamom produced in India. Big plantations have suffered good damage to their plants on account of drought. Small growers have survived by irrigating the plants in the dry climate, KK Devassia of Cardamom Growers Association said.
Cardamom needs low temperature, high humidity and incessant drizzles. Heavy rains could damage the crop, while intermittent rains that keep the atmosphere humid augur well.
Spices Board estimates Indias production in 2010-11 to be 10,350 tonne, which is almost the same as 2009-10 s figures. Good summer rains and conducive environment in the cardamom growing Idukki district during 2011 helped in continuous and higher arrival of cardamom into the market.
Arrivals have declined to the range of 15-40 tonne per day depending on the auctioneers and the quality is not great. Price is steady around R700-900 per kg depending on the quality, KK Devassia said.
He expects the market to remain steady due to less quality and lower production in Guatemala. During January, the average price for one kg of cardamom had dipped to R450. Cardamom prices had reached a record high of R1,950-2,000 per kg during June 2010 due to shortage of the commodity. A major reason for the record price during 2009-10 was lower production in competing Guatemala.
Exports of the commodity are also on the higher side and India has captured some markets due to good supply and competitive price. During the April-January period of the FY, 3,900 tonne of small cardamom was exported as against 795 tonne during the same period of last FY. Ramadan demand from the West Asian countries is expected to offer good support to the market in the coming months, traders said.