Lemon grass is one of the wonder plants. It has many benefits. It can easily be grown at home for personal consumption or commercially in a large farm. It is widely used in the Asian cuisine to provide the specific taste and smell, peculiar to lemongrass. The oil extracted from its leaves is used in the manufacture of soaps and candles and for thousands of years, it had been used to cure various ailments ranging from stomach cramps to arthritic pain.
Planting it on commercial scale is rather easy as the plant can grow effectively in almost any soil condition. It requires a warm tropical weather with a lot of sunshine. As it is easily grown, it had created a high market competition causing a drop in price.
The followings are the suggested steps to grow it on commercial basis:
1. Planning stage:
a. Secure the market. As the planting cycle is about 6 months, securing buyers is one of the critical elements of the project.
b. Equip yourself with the necessary skills and knowledge. It will be a good idea to attend courses and seek advice from the agricultural authority.
c. Familiarize with the list of suppliers of seedlings and equipments. They can be a source for information and advice.
d. Plan the detail of the project. The project can be divided into 4 steps.
i. Site preparation
ii. Planting and first month.
iii. Growing Stage
iv. Harvesting and Marketing.
2. Site preparation. Evaluate the site with an expert to check for suitability of the soil. Although lemongrass can be grown in a wide range of soil conditions, it would require specific treatment and fertilizing techniques for different soil type. This treatment can add up to the cost.
Synchronize the site preparation with the purchase of the seedlings. Planting is preferred to be done in the raining season, to reduce the need of watering. Clear the land and plough is twice, the final is using the rotor.
3. Planting and first month. Planting stage can be done two weeks after the soil preparation stage. Align the holes in grids of 3 by 4 feet and insert three seedlings into each hole. Water it immediately. The plants will need daily watering for initial 7 days. Then weekly round for a month to replace the dead seedlings. After the first month, the replacement of the dead seedlings should stop.
4. Growing Stage: Lemon grass does not require close attention while growing. Fertilize is monthly for the first three month. Clear the weeds manually. The plants does not have natural enemies and insets do not attack the leaves or roots.
5. Harvesting and marketing: Harvesting is the most difficult and time consuming task as has to be done manually. Depending on the contract with the buyer, the lemon grass can be harvesting in 3 ways depending its usage. For oil extract, cut the leave about one foot from the ground. You can repeat this cycle monthly for 4 times (4 months). For seedlings, when harvesting, leave a small amount of roots and cutoff the leaves leaving about a foot length of the stalk. If it is to be marketed for consumption, the harvesting is similar to that for the seedlings except the roots have to be cut-off.
With proper planning and controlled implementation, growing lemongrass can be a profitable proposition. The demand for the product has increased as the Asian foods are widely accepted by the West.