By Umar Nsubuga
Cinnamon can be grown by planting seeds or cinnamon balls. However, better results are obtained by planting seedlings that are raised under nursery conditions.
This permits better selection of planting materials, which is necessary because established selections or vegetatively propagated plant materials are not available.
Commercial farmers are advised to cultivate the cinnamomum verum or the zeylanicum varieties because they give high yields.
Twaha Kakooza, a cinnamon farmers in Bubajjwe village, Kayunga district, says sandy loam soils with a mixture of humus or vegetative mould are needed to get sweet and fragrant bark.
According to Kakooza’s proximity to water, humid conditions and salty water are good for the crop. Cinnamon is propagated mainly by seeds and rarely by cuttings.
Seeds should be sown fresh after the removal of the pulp. Seeds are sown thickly in nurseries. Germination takes two to three weeks.
When the seedlings are four months old, they are transplanted into poly bags. After 10 to 12 months, they are planted in the main field.
Cattle manure or compost at 20kg per tree, per year, may be applied.
Inorganic fertilisers may be applied in the first year and gradually increased for grown-up plants of 10 years or more.
Regular weeding is done in the early stages of growth. Plants are pruned at two to three years. Side shoots growing from the base are cut to encourage the growth of more side shoots until the whole plant assumes the shape of a bush. Cinnamon is pruned every other year.
Cinnamon trees can grow up to 50 feet high. However, trees for commercial use are usually trimmed to a smaller height for easier harvest. A healthy tree can produce cinnamon bark for about 45 years.