Lemongrass – cultivation, benefits and project report

Lemongrass is a tall, perennial grass native to the tropical and sub-tropical climates of South East Asia and Africa. India is the highest producer of lemongrass, where it is cultivated along with the mountain range of the Western Ghats(Maharashtra, Kerala), Karnataka and Tamil Nadu states and beside the foothills of Arunachal Pradesh and Sikkim in the Himalayan mountains.

The so-called East Indian lemongrass (Cymbopogon flexuosus) , also known as Malabar or Cochin grass is native to India, SriLanka, Burma, and Thailand; for the related West Indian lemongrass (C. citratus ), a Malaysian origin is generally assumed. Both species are today cultivated throughout tropical Asia.

The Lemongrass oil is distilled from leaves and flowering tops of Lemongrass. The oil has a strong lemon-like odor, due to a high percentage ( over 75%) of citral in the oil. The characteristic smell of oil makes its use in scenting of soaps, detergents, insect repellent preparations.

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Lemongrass characteristics

  1. Lemongrass is a multiyear crop, which can be used for 5 years.
  2. Lemongrass grows around 1.8 meters (6ft) in height.
  3. Leaves are long, green, linear tapering upwards and along the margins.
  4. Lemongrass is a tropical plant that freezes to death where winter temperatures drop below 15F (-9C)

Lemongrass oil benefits

Lemongrass (Cymbopogon citratus) oil has many therapeutic uses below are few

  1. Lemongrass oil is beneficial for scenting soaps, detergents and insect repellent.
  2. Consumption of Lemongrass tea aids digestion.
  3. The presence of Citral in Lemongrass oil is used for perfumes, cosmetics, and beverages.
  4. lemongrass adds flavoring for culinary purposes.
  5. Lemongrass oil is also used as an insect repellent ingredient in sprays, candles, soaps, and aromatherapy.
  6. Lemongrass oil has anti-bacterial and anti-fungal properties.
  7. Lemongrass oil makes a good preservative.
  8. Lemongrass oil is good for Stomach and intestinal cramps, High blood pressure, pain and swelling, Cough, Fever, Common cold and Vomiting.
Also Read  Citronella- cultivation, benefits and project report

Cultivation of Lemongrass

Lemongrass is very easy to grow and requires low maintenance.  a complete guide from soil preparation to the harvest of Lemongrass is shared below:

1. Soil Selection for Lemongrass cultivation

  • Soil should be porous. Preferable red soil with a mix of sand.
  • Water retention of soil should be low, clay soil is not suitable.
  • Rains should be around 200-250cm per year.
  • It requires a lot of sunlight and warmth.

2. Sowing period

  • The slip of lemongrass which has well-developed roots should be sown directly.
  • No transplanting is required.
  • 12000 to 15000 lemongrass slips are required for the one-acre plot.
  • Each lemongrass slip costs 3Rs.
  • The best time to sow lemongrass is between June – August.
  • Sow at a distance of 45*45 cm
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3. Irrigation for Lemongrass cultivation

  • Watering is not necessary during rainy days.
  • Water the plants once in 15-20 days. 
  • It requires a low amount of water.
  • Suitable for dry areas and water shortage areas.
  • It requires a lot of sunshine, and less rain around 200-250cm per year.

4. Weeding procedure in Lemongrass cultivation

  • Initially after sowing Lemongrass once or twice before the first harvest.
  • Later weeding should be done, after every harvest.

5. Harvesting Lemongrass

  • The complete crop above the ground can be used to extract the essential oil.
  • The percentage of citral will determine the quality of Lemongrass oil.
  • Harvest the crop from 10 to 15 cm above the ground. Leaving the plant to regrow.
  • The first harvest is after 6 months when it is fully grown.
  • Successive harvests will be after every 3 months for the next 5 years.
  • 10 ton to 14 ton herbage from an acre per harvest can be expected. (10 -14 ton/acre/harvest)
  • There are 3 to 4 harvests per year.
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6. Lemongrass Essential Oil extraction

  • The extraction of this essential oil is done by steam distillation of grass.
  • The distillation process should be done for 3 hours to extract complete Lemongrass oil.
  • Start oil extraction only after 24 hrs of harvest, as the water content will reduce the moisture content by 30% and improves oil yield. Do not let the herbage to dry in direct sunlight, keep in shade.
Also Read  Citronella- cultivation, benefits and project report

7. Aromatic Oil Production from Lemongrass per acre

  • In 1-ton herbage 8kg – 10kg of essential oil can be extracted.
  • So per acre in a year around 120kg – 150kg of essential Lemongrass oil can be extracted.

8. Purification of Lemongrass oil

The insoluble particles present in the oil are removed by a simple filtration method after mixing it with anhydrous sodium sulfate and keeping it overnight or for 4-5 hours.

9. Storage and Packing of Lemongrass Oil

  • The oil can be stored in glass bottles or containers made up of stainless steel or aluminum or galvanized iron, depending upon the quantity of oil to be stored.
  • The oil should be filled up to the brim and the containers should be kept away from direct heat and sunlight in cool/shaded places.

Lemongrass plant varieties

There are varieties of Lemongrass plant which differs in herbage quantity and Citral content, some are developed by research centers in India. Here are the best varieties available in the market.

Lemongrass VarietiesOil extracted (kg/acre/year)Citral(%)
Trishna120kg – 150kg80-85
cim – Shekar
140kg – 180kg85-90

GC report for Lemongrass Essential Oil

Gas chromatography (GC) is a common type of chromatography used in analytical chemistry for separating and analyzing compounds that can be vaporized without decomposition. There should be a peak for Citral, this determines the quality of Lemongrass Oil quality. The purity oil determines the rate in the market. After every oil extraction process, the GC certificate is a must for that batch, to command a better price.

Also Read  Palmarosa Essential oil benefits,cultivation, and project report

Lemongrass cultivation project report

Complete details of expenditure and profit for the consecutive 3 years of Lemongrass Essential oil extraction.

ExpenditureFirst-yearSecond-yearThird-year
Land Preparation5,000  
Sowing and Transplanting 4,000  
Slips(₹3/slip)36,000  
Weeding3,00020002000
Harvesting4,00060006000
Oil extraction15,0001500015000
Total expenditure
67,00023,00023,000
Oil extracted 60 – 100 kg120 – 150 kg120 – 150 kg
Essential oil Rs 1550 /kg93,000 – 1,55,0001,86,000 – 2,32,0001,86,000 – 2,32,000
Total Profit(₹)26,000 – 88,0001,63,000 – 2,09,0001,63,000 – 2,09,000

We can always save the cost of Lemongrass slips as its expensive for more than one acre of land. A small amount of planning can bring down costs. Sow slips in a quarter of an acre, 4 to 6 months prior to actual sowing. By now the lemongrass will grow and have a lot of slips in the single plant. Each plant can produce more than 100 slips. This can be transplanted to the larger field.

Lemongrass cultivation profit on an average for consecutive 3 years are ₹55000, ₹190000 and ₹190000. Farmers can earn a stable income through Lemongrass cultivation. Most of the water-scarce locations are well suited for Lemongrass cultivation. The demand of Lemongrass oil is an all-time high, as it has a long list of benefits and spread across the market.

Lemongrass cultivation complete  information guide

Lemongrass is a perennial grass that can be harvested at 2-3 times during the first year and 3-4 times from second year onward. As this crop can be maintained for 5 years, the above-mentioned schedule starting from irrigation shall be followed for the remaining period with suitable alterations. A complete information guide for Lemongrass cultivation is given below.  

Major activityMonthActivity details
Land preparation May – June1ft deep plowing & harrowing
Manure and fertilizer application May – JuneNPK is required. Use Natural farming practice – apply Jeevamrutham (every 15 days once)
Sowing slips
June – July Sowing of healthy slips at a
spacing of 45*45cm
Irrigation June – July One irrigation immediately after transplanting and subsequent irrigation at 10-15 days interval along with water.
Weeding August- September Two weeding at 40 days after transplanting and another at 30-40 days after first weeding.
First harvest October – November Harvest the lemongrass by cutting the clumps at 10-15 cm from the ground level
Weeding October – November Normal weeding
Irrigation October – November Irrigation should be given after harvesting. Continue Jeevamrutham every 15 days along with water.
Second harvest February – March Harvest the lemongrass by cutting the clumps at 10-15 cm from the ground level
Irrigation February – March Irrigation should be given after harvesting. Continue Jeevamrutham every 15 days along with water.
Third harvest May – JuneHarvest the lemongrass by cutting the clumps at 10-15 cm from the ground level
Irrigation May – June Irrigation should be given after harvesting. Continue Jeevamrutham every 15 days along with water.

Lemongrass Diseases

Lemongrass is a sturdy plant, but still, sometimes it may get affected by some diseases. Few of the common diseases are listed below:

Name of diseaseSymptoms
Red Leaf Spot Brown spots with concentric rings in the center appearing on the lower surface of the leaves. The spots may be formed on leaf sheaths and midrib. Later the spots merge to form bigger patches and the affected leaves dry away.
Leaf Blight Minute, circular, reddish-brown spots mostly on the margins and tip of the leaves which merge to form elongated reddish-brown necrotic lesions resulting in premature drying of leaves, older leaves are more susceptible to infection.
Little Leaf or Grassy Shoot Stunted growth Little leaf formation in place of the normal inflorescence.