Drumstick Cultivation Guide

About the Crop

Crop Name

Drum Stick

Common names

Drum Stick, Moringa

Scientific Name

Moringa oleifera
Family : Moringaceae

Name in Indian languages

Murugaikkai (Tamil), Muringakka (Malayalam), Munagakayalu (Telugu), Nuggekai (Kannada), Sajgan Shinga (Hindi), Sajane Dauta (Bengali), Sargavani shing (Gujarathi), Shevaga (Marathi), Sajana Chhuin (Oriya), Savonjna (punjabi)

Origin, Distribution and Uses of Moringa

Moringa or Drumstick as it is popularly called is native to India, southern foot hills of Himalayas. It is cultivated in North India and South India as well. It is grown in tropical and sub tropical areas. India is the largest producer of Moringa with Andhra Pradesh as the largest producer among the states, followed by Karnataka and Tamilnadu in both area and production. In Tamilnadu varieties of this has been developed. It is also grown in neighboring countries, Pakistan and Afghanistan. It is also grown in south east Asia region, Africa and south America northern portion countries. Generally Moringa is grown in Sunny areas and it is drought resistant, though it gives more produce if water is available for irrigation. But it cannot withstand cold and frost.
In India its leaves and pods are used for culinary purposes. The leaves are rich in nutrients and a source of eradicating malnutrition. Its seeds are global in shape and used as fried peas for eating. It is also used for oil extraction and its oil finds use in food preparations, cosmetics and used as machine oil called Ben oil in watches, since it is non drying and non sticky and odourless in refined stage.
It has got medicinal properties, in addition to be used as food. It has anti inflammatory properties used in treating joint pains. It is said to have properties to treat Impotency and prevention of pregnancy and boosting mother’s milk. It is applied as paste form topically, on wounds and abscesses since it contains Anti fungal medicinal properties in treating skin diseases. The cakes after extraction of oil used as nutrients for plants and as water purifier.
According to USDA the nutritional values are as follows for 100 gm :-
Energy : 64 Kcal, Carbohydrates : 8.28 gm, Dietary fiber : 2 gm, Fat : 1.4 gm, Protein : 9.4 gm, Vitamin A : 378 ug, Thiamine (B1) : 0.257 mg, Riboflavin (B2) : 0.660 mg, Niacin (B3) : 2.220 mg, Pantothenic acid (B5): 0.125 mg, Vitamin B6 : 1.200 mg, Folate (B9) : 40 ug, Vitamin C : 51.7 mg.
Minerals :- Calcium : 185 mg, Iron : 4 mg, Magnesium : 147 mg, Manganese : 0.36 mg, Phosphorus : 112 mg, Potassium : 337 mg, Sodium : 9 mg, Zinc : 0.6 mg. and other constituents, water : 78.66 gm.
Further the nutritional values for 100 gm Moringa leaves are as follows:-:
Energy : 37 kcals, Carbohydrates : 8.53 gm, Dietary fiber : 3.2 gm, Fat : 0.20 gm, Protein : 2.10 gm, Vitamin A : 4 ug, Thiamine (B1) : 0.0530 mg, Riboflavin (B2) : 0.074 mg, Niacin (B3) : 0.620 mg, Pantothenic acid (B5) : 0.794 mg, Vitamin B6 : 0.120 mg, Folate (B9) : 44 ug, Vitamin C : 141.0 mg,
Minerals :- Calcium : 30 mg, iron : 036 mg, Magnesium : 45 mg, Manganese : 0.259 mg, Phosphorus : 50 mg, Potassium : 461 mg, Sodium : 42 mg, Zinc : 0.45 mg and other constituent water : 88.20 gm.

Area, Production and Productivity

India is the largest producer of Moringa with an area of 93,917 acres and production at 1,30,00,00 tons. Andhra Pradesh is the largest producer, followed by Karnataka and Tamilnadu as leading producers.

Cultivation Requirements of Moringa

Climate and Seasons

Moringa grows in sunny climates and wherever sufficient water and sunshine available. It grows in tropical and sub tropical regions. It cannot sustain extreme cold and frost. Generally it is cultivated in the months of July to October when there will be moderate weather conditions.

Soils for Drumstick

Moringa grows well in loamy or sandy or combined loamy-sandy soil with pH value between 5 to 9. But best suited is at 7.5.

Varieties of Moringa

1. PKM 1

Developed at TNAU. Plant ready for harvest in about 9 months time. Yield about 220 pods per plant. Pods are about 70cms in length. Two harvests can be made in one year. Plant life 5 years. Total expected yield about 120 tons per year per acre.

2. PKM 2

Developed at TNAU. Yield about 340 tons per acre per year if high density cultivation is followed. Each plant can yield about 400 pods per plant per year and the length is about 70 cms length.

3. CO 2

Developed at TNAU. Yield about 350 pods per year per plant. Length of pods about 30 cm to 35 cms length.

4. Rohit 1

Yield about 135 pods per plant. Can take two harvests per year. Pods are about 50 to 60 cms length. Yield 20 kg per plant.

Crop Management of Drumstick

Field Preparation

The field to be ploughed well once before cultivation. Pits are dug and allowed to weathering in sun for a few days.


Propagation of Moringa plant can be either through direct sowing of seeds, or through planting of suitable cuttings or developing plants in nursery and transplanting. The nursery method protects the plant from diseases. Whatever be the methods, it is essential that the plant needs proper pruning in early stage, say when the plant attains a height of 2 meters, for better yield either of the leaves or pods.
While using cuttings of plant select cutting from pest free tree. The cutting shall have length of one and half meters length and 5 cm diameter. The cutting should be kept in the soil for 1/3rd portion for better root formation.

Sowing, Nursery and Transplanting

Seed Rate

For sowing in normal manner in prepared pits, about 1.250 kg seeds are required per acre, when two seeds are planted in a pit.

Seed Treatment and Sowing

The seeds after planting easily germinates in two weeks. However if the seeds are kept in water overnight and planted next day, it will quicken germination. For enabling sowing, pits of size 45 cm x 45 cm x 45 cm in length x width x depth are to be prepared. Leave it for a few days exposed to sun rays to protect the plant from earthy pests. Apply Farm Yard manure at the rate of 15 kg per pit and mix it with top soil and fill the pits before sowing.


The seeds are also sown in poly bags of size 20 cm height and 15 cm dia, duly filling the Bag with mixture of soil 2/3 and sand 1/3 portion. Sow 2 to 3 seeds and water them the seed will germinate in about 10 days. Keep the polybags with the Moringa plants in shade and after some time keep one healthy plant and remove other plants from the polybag. When the plants reach a height of 60 to 70 cms, transplant them in prepared pits for further growth.


2 x 2.5 meters for normal planting.
1.5 x 1.5 meter for high density planting.
0.6 meters x 1 meter for cultivation of leaves.


There are three methods of growing Moringa.

  1. Seed sowing direct: In this method the seeds are being sown after keeping in water overnight directly into the prepared pits.
  2. Growing in shade in nursery and transplanting: In this method initially seed is sown in plastic covers filled with Manure mixed soil and after the seedlings are developed into plants, transplanting them in prepared pits. In this method plants are protected from earthly diseases.
  3. Cutting of mature tree: Planting the stem portion of the matured tree direct into prepared pits.
  4. Live fencing: In this method the plants are planted in border of the field at short intervals so as to form posts for fencing in live form. This is monetarily beneficial for the farmer in both ways as they cut the cost of posts as well as derivation of income from yield of Drum stick.

Cropping Patterns

Since the plants take time to grow and start yielding, inter cropping with short duration vegetables is beneficial. The cropping pattern for Drumstick is annual as well as perennial. In annual pattern, the plants are recultivated after two yields, whereas in perennial cultivation such as in rainfed areas, the plant is kept for periods up to five or six years, following due pruning practices.

Water Management

Water requirement is less for this plant, hence this is capable of giving yield in drought condition also but to a lesser extent. But with following proper irrigation methods like drip irrigation and fertigation, it will give more yield. It is a must when annual cropping pattern is followed. For annual cropping pattern with normal irrigation, the plants are to be irrigated before sowing and a few days after sowing, to allow the seeds to germinate. Onward once in 15 to 20 days interval will do.

Nutrient Management

N : P : K at the rate of 135 : 23 : 45 gm per pit per day through drip irrigation method will give good yield. In addition application of fertilizers N : P : K at the rate of 45 : 15 : 30 gms per pit after three months and later after six months of sowing N at the rate of 45 gm per pit is necessary.

Weed Management

Weeding of unwanted growth of plants to be done regularly. Intercropping with other vegetations can control weeds.

Pests of Drumstick and their Management

  • Leaf caterpillar (Noorda blitealis)
    Pest lays eggs on the leaf clusters which develop into larvae. They feed on the leaves and eats them completely. Ploughing around the affected trees to identify pupae and destroying them will help stop damage at the roots and after that collect the damaged leaflets clusters totally and destroy them along with cater pillar. Spraying of Malathion 50 EC - 2 ml per liter of water will help control this pest. Keeping light traps can stop this menace to an extent.
  • Bud worm (Noorda moringae)
    Pest lays eggs on flowers which are oval in shape. Transform into larvae which feed on the flowers and damage them. No pods will be formed. Collect the affected flowers and destroy them. Spray Malathion 50 EC - at the rate of 2.5 litres per acre.
  • Hairy caterpillar (Eupterote mollifera)
    Pest lays eggs on tender stem and adjoining leaves. Forms into larvae on the trunks of the plant. In severe cases the entire leaves of the tree defoliated. Collect the eggs and caterpillar from the trunks and destroy them. With the use of burning torches smoke the caterpillars out. Spraying of Carbaryl 50 WP at the rate of 2 gm per litre of water or FORS at the rate of 25 gm per litre of water can help control this condition
  • Pod fly (Gitona distigma)
    This pest lays eggs on the grooves of the pods a and they develop into Maggots. They feed on the pods causing the tip portion to dry with oozing from the pod, causing the pod to fall. Collect the fallen pods and destroy them. Thoroughly dig the soil around the plant and destroy the pupae. Apply Nimbecidine at the rate of 3 ml per litre of water during early stages of pods formation and after 30 days of first spray.
  • Bark caterpillar (Indrabela tetraonis)
    This pest creates a colony of caterpillars on the bark portion of the tree creating hole portion. Remove all the larvae en mass from the affected portion and place cotton wool soaked in any fumigant like Formalin or Chloroform and seal the portion with mud.

Harvesting and Yield

Pods are picked manually at maturity. Tender leaf can be harvested regularly.


There is ready market for Drum stick whether it is for pods or leaves or seeds either local or in Cities, which can fetch good profit. But only thing is they have to be marketed immediately after harvesting.

Post Harvest Technology

While pods and green leaves have to be sold soon they are harvested for consumption as food, the leaves and seeds can be preserved for future consumption. Leaves can be dried in shade, powdered and kept stored properly for use in food preparations, as the high nutritive value of the leaves makes it a preferable source of nutrition. The seeds are useful for oil extraction which is used in soap making, in medicinal preparations and as lubricant in fine machines like watches. The seed is also used in powdered form for medicinal use. They can be stored more than one year for further use of propagation or consumption.

Additional Information

Essentials of moringa farming
Intensive cultivation of organic moringa ( ICOM ) for leaf biomass
Moringa odc 3 leaf harvest
Pkm -1 annual moringa - an insight into improved cutivation

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