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Monday, October 5, 2009

Growing Roselle

Roselle (Hibiscus sabdariffa spp) in Malvaceae family is a bush type of tree which produce flower that rich of vitamin C (Claimed 9 times more than orange). I was experience in Roselle growing project during my tenure at Mersing Agriculture Office in late 1990's. Roselle was introduced by me in Mersing as alternative crop to tobacco at that time. About 4 hectare of bris soil was selected at Endau area. The project involved 5 farmers as pilot project. This crop still exists there until today. From my study shown that China is the largest roselle producers in the world followed by Thailand. This article in "Anim Agro Technology" , I would like to share my knowledge about Roselle Growing Project conducted in Mersing District, Johore.

Roselle is a bush type of tree with maximum height of 2-3 meter without pruning. The stem diameter about 1-2 cm with red grey or Pale color and has several branching system. The leaves are green reddish color with 10-15 cm length and has a sour taste. The leaves also uses as cooking culinary due to the characteristic for 'masak asam pedas'. The Roselle fruit formed after pollination of their beautiful flower (See photo next). The fruit about 3-5cm diameter with dark red color and 4 calyx. The fruit has seeds in the center and used as source of planting material. From my observation it grows well with proper irrigation system on fertile soil.

There are three cultivar of roselle in Malaysia known as Red Roselle, Wild Red Roselle and Yellow Roselle. It was reported by Department of Agriculture Johore (DOA) for commercial growing the Red Roselle (UMKL Variety) and Red UKM Variety are recommended. In Malaysia, roselle was commercially grown in Terengganu in mid 1980's and recently in Johore (District of Mersing) in late 1990's introduced by DAO Mohd Anim at that period and mostly was grown on Bris Soil. About 246 hectare are planted from 2000 to 2008 which produce 424.7 metric ton of calyx valued for RM 1.03 million. Currently the growers shifted to better soil area (on mineral soil - with new crop management system) for higher calyx production.

Seeds from matured tree collected and dried. Select those tree with special criteria such as high yielding, stay stand with strong stems, early maturity period, even branching system and vigorous. The seed treated with fungicide before planting. Recommended planting distance was 1.5 m x 0.6 m giving a crop intensity at 7,500 trees/ ha. From my observation in Mersing, the flower start blooming after 60 days of planting. Harvesting of calyx from 80 to 105 days after planting and if harvesting interval for 7-10 days than we can achieve about 6-9 harvesting frequency.

Potential yield recorded in Johore about 14 - 18 mt per hectare. DOA demonstration plot recorded about an average of 152 flower/calyx was produced from each tree with an average 7 flower from each branch. One kilogram of calyx consists of 75 set flowers and 142 calyx weigh about 1 kg. Hence we can collect an average 1.1 kg of calyx every tree. With farm price at RM 2.80/kg calyx it means about RM 23,000 gross income per hectare with give a return of RM 3.08 / tree. The 'DECORING PROCESS' is the most tidiuos job in roselle  growing project (See photo next). It use a hollow sharp steel push to the calyx center to remove the seed.
Fresh Calyx collected from fresh flower after 'Decoring"process which a special rounded knife push onto the flower to remove the seeds. The calyx must be processed within 12 hours or keep in freezer in below zero degrees for longer storage. The calyx later processed for Drink Juice, Halwa, Jem or other product. It was claimed that other product from roselle are Health Food, Cosmetic Product, Pharmaceutical Product, Snack Food and others. Study found that the demand is about RM 792.5 million annual of finishes roselle product mostly in pharmaceutical product in 2005.

Most of Roselle produced in Malaysia are processed for making syrup or juice for healthy drinks. The other used is for Roselle tea, beverages, jam , health food and food coloring. Roselle rich of anthocyanins, protogutetic acid and many other chemical. It used as diuretic food for many years. In Malaysia the roselle syrup processed as a Agrobased product with bottled in 1 litre and tag price about RM 10.00 each. The roselle jam was popular as another product.
It is a great potential in growing roselle provided there is better technology especially in reducing labour cost in harvesting and 'decoring' activities. Any farmers interested to grow or familiar with roselle technology can approach to the nearest Department of Agriculture Extension Officers.


M AnEm


(Updated on 30 March 2013)

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