Organic Moringa Farming (Drumstick) – Production In India

Introduction to Organic Moringa Farming and Cultivation Practices

Moringa is one of the famous vegetable crops in India and it is also called Drumstick. Moringa is the most cultivated species in the family of Moringaceae. Organic Moringa cultivation is typically easy and profitable. Moringa tree is grown for its nutrient-rich tender, but full-grown pods, leaves, and flowers which are used for culinary purposes. Among the vegetable crops, the Moringa tree can fit very well as a candidate crop for organic cultivation. Moringa is an important perennial multipurpose vegetable grown widely in India. It is also known as ‘Ganigana’, ‘Mullakkai’ ‘Murrugi’, and ‘Muringa’. It is a delicacy in the south Indian households and it is most popular for its distinct, appealing flavoring fruits. The flower buds are used for culinary purposes and it also has medicinal value. India is the largest producer of Moringa and it is a nutritionally rich, fast-growing crop. In this topic we also discuss the below points;

  • How do you grow organic Moringa
  • How much water do Moringa trees need
  • Is Moringa farming profitable
  • How much time it takes to grow Moringa

A Step by Step Guide to Organic Moringa Farming and Cultivation Practices

Moringa tree can grow to a height of about 10-12 meters and a diameter of about 45 cms. The tree starts flowering after 6 months from planting in April to June. Flowering can happen twice with more constant seasonal temperature levels and rainfall all year around. The Moringa tree is drought resistant tree that can reach up to about 3 meters in its first year. The Moringa tree is very easy to grow and simply plant seeds or cuttings in a sunny spot. The Moringa tree is a plant that grows mainly in semiarid and subtropical areas. Moringa tree has become popular as a natural leaf powder supplement. It is used as a traditional remedy for several problems that contain disease-preventing nutrients. Also, it is used for water purification purposes, hand washing, oil extractions, and herbal medicines.

Moringa farming in India is profitable with minimum care and investment. Moringa is easy to grow from seeds and cuttings and it produces seed pods all year round without considering the climate. Farmers are much benefitted if they start growing Moringa plants. It is coming into view as a future crop considering its wider adaptability and tolerance to severe drought conditions.

Organic farming systems rely upon crop rotations, crop residues, legumes, green manures, mechanical cultivation, animal manures, off-farm organic wastes, mineral-bearing rock powders, and biological pest control. These organic components maintain soil productivity and tilth, supply plant nutrients, and help to control insects, diseases, weeds, and other pests. Organic Moringa production excludes the use of synthetic pesticides and fertilizers. The best choice for organic farming, Moringa is grown from seeds or stem cutting. It is a fast-growing crop best suited to dry regions. The Moringa seeds are to be soaked in water for 12 hours before sowing. And, a healthy bed of organic mixes and topsoil will nurture the seeds to healthy saplings.

Organic Moringa Farming.
Organic Moringa Farming

Soil and Climate Requirements for Ogrnaic Moringa Farming

Moringa tree grows best in a well-drained loam to clay loam. Soil pH level should be 6.2 to 7 and it cannot withstand prolonged waterlogging. Moringa tree requires a lot of sunlight.

Moringa tree enjoys the climate of the tropical and sub-tropical regions. Temperature ranges are 25 to 35°C, but it can tolerate up to 48°C and it can survive a light frost as well. It is a hardy plant and tolerant to drought and cold due to the presence of a long taproot system. Irrigation is required for leaf production if rainfall is less than 800 mm.

Seed Rate and Plant Spacing in Orgnaic Moringa Farming

About 500 grams/ha of seeds are required for Moringa cultivation. Sow two seeds per pit at a depth of about 2.5-3.0 cm. For intensive Moringa production, plant the tree every 3 meters in rows about 3 meters apart. The area between Moringa trees must be kept free of weeds.

Planting Season and Propagation in Organic Moringa Farming

Generally, Moringa seeds can be sown during June-July at the onset of Monsoon. However, in moderate climates, with the availability of irrigation, it can be sown any time during the year.

Moringa can be propagated from seed or cuttings. Moringa seeds can be germinated year-round and require well-draining soil. Moringa can be propagated either by;

(i) Seed or

(ii) Stem cuttings

Plants produced with cuttings will not have a deep root system and will be sensitive to wind and drought. Cuttings are more sensitive to termite attacks. Propagation Moringa by seed is preferred as the requirement is large given narrow spacing followed. Seeds can be sown directly raised in polybags in the nursery for further transplantation. A good seed must be viable, clean, and disease-free. Seeds must not be stored over long periods as they lose viability after about one year. Direct sowing is preferred for fodder purposes. Seeds are required to be soaked in water for 10 to 12 hours before sowing.

Seeds must be sown at a maximum depth of about 2 cm. Deeper seeding will greatly reduce the seed germination rate. Approximately one or two seeds per pit can be sown. When seeds are expensive or difficult to acquire, a better option is to plant one seed only and to wait 2 weeks for germination to occur. Then, the empty spaces are refilled. When the seed quality is more uncertain or the seeding period not optimal, the use of two seeds per pit is advocated. Moringa seeds germinate about 12 to 15 days after seeding. It is better to get the seed testing done or get the seeds from a reliable source for better seed germination.

Raising Seedlings – Seedlings raising is easy in Moringa farming. During May – June, soil and organic manure in 2:1 ratio have to be put in poly packets 2 seeds are to be put in each packet and kept under the shade and watered regularly. Germination takes place after 8 to 10 days. After 30 to 35 days seedlings are ready for planting in the mainland.

In case, if you are interested in this: Green Manure In Organic Farming.

Planting Method in Organic Moringa Farming

The best season for sowing the Moringa seeds in September under Southern Indian conditions. A plant spacing of about 2.5 x 2.5 meters between rows and seeds should be adopted. Pits of about 45 x 45 x 45 cm in size are dug out and the seeds are sown in the center of the pit. The Moringa seed germinates 10 to 12 days after sowing. When planted in single rows along with irrigation channels, a spacing of about 2 meters is sufficient. Treatment with Azospirillum cultures at the rate of about 100 grams per 625 grams of seeds before sowing resulted in early germination and increased growth and yield.

Irrigation Requirement for Organic Moringa Farming

Moringa trees do not need much watering. In very dry conditions, water regularly for the first 2 months and afterwards only when the tree is suffering. This crop is hardy and during dry season requires irrigation once in 2 weeks and for commercial cultivation, drip irrigation can be adopted with a daily application rate of about 12 to 16 liters of water per tree during the summer season and half this rate during other seasons.

Irrigation is necessary to produce leaves all year long, during dry seasons. Irrigation may not be required during these periods. Any suitable irrigation system can be used like a flood, drip, or sprinkler irrigation. Drip irrigation is recommended for saving water and also to get higher crop yields. If water is scarce, mulching or a superficial weeding will also decrease evaporation.

Irrigation can be done even at an interval of 30 to 40 days in case of temperature remaining less than 25°C. If the temperature level remains above 40°C, surface irrigation is recommended every 20 days. In the present model, drip irrigation is considered. The crop is quite hardy and during dry season requires irrigation once in 2 weeks and for commercial cultivation, drip irrigation can be adopted.

Fertilizer Requirements in Organic Moringa Farming

Organic fertilizers and supplies can be used from the 4th month to ensure better crop growth and yielding. Adding too much fertilizer helps to improve the Moringa plant growth. Organic manure or compost can be mixed with the soil to improve soil fertility. Also, you can use N-P-K fertilizer to encourage root development and leaf growth. And, make sure you do not apply fertilizers during the growing season.

Farmyard manure – FYM (Farmyard manure) is applied as a basal dressing by broadcast and immediately incorporated into the soil by ploughing. It contains approximately 0.6% nitrogen, 0.35% phosphorus and 0.6% potash in general. And, it takes a long time for decomposition for nearly a year. Pits of about 45cm × 45cm × 45cm size are dug at 2.5 meters × 2.5 meters spacing 1 week before planting. The farmyard manure at 15kg/pit is applied and a 60cm circular irrigation basin is made around the pit and then the pits are closed. FYM 75kg/plant can be given to 1- year-old plants and above during June in trenches 1metre away from plants.

Vermicomposting is also important organic fertilizer and prepared from the excrements of earthworms which is rich in organic carbon content (47%) and humus substances which help in building the soil structure. It can be applied to the Moringa tree along with biofertilizers and other organic manures.

Panchagavya is known to contain effective micro-organisms which in turn are found to increase the crop yield and resistance to pests and diseases in crop plants. The integrated nutrient management in the annual Moringa tree encompassing organic manures, and varying levels of N, P, and K. The results obtained a positive response from the Moringa tree to the application of manures and fertilizers. Apply the organic treatment with poultry manure by 500 g / pit + Panchakavya by 2% + Neem cake by 250 grams/pit sprays along with 150:150:100g NPK/tree. The same organic treatment resulted in early and vigorous tree growth confirming the superiority of integrated nutrient management in the Moringa crop.

Mulching – Mulching is a field practice to conserve soil moisture and also to control weeds. Moringa trees are grown successfully without fertilizers. During the rainy season, ring trenches are dug about 10 cm from trees and filled with green leaves, manure, and ash, and then covered with soil. This is said to promote higher crop yields.

Pest Management in Organic Moringa Farming

Hairy caterpillar and Leaf eating caterpillar occurring in the rainy period destroys the Moringa leaves. Pheromone traps were used to manage the pest.

Bark eating caterpillar – Bark eating caterpillars can be controlled by the mechanical process by adding an iron rod or addition of cotton ball soaked in petrol in the hold. Then, the spraying may be done in the morning or evening hours.

Insects – The most common pests in Moringa are grasshoppers, crickets, and caterpillars. These insects bite and chew parts of the plant, destroying plant leaves, buds, flowers, shoots, fruits, or seeds as well as interrupting sap flow.

In organic farming, Bt (Bacillus thuringiensis) is an insecticide composed of bacteria specific to Lepidoptera larvae. It should be ingested to be activated, with no impact on humans, wildlife, or pollinators. The waiting period before harvesting is only 3 days.

Disease Management – Rotting of the stem in water logging conditions and drain excess water from the field.

Fungal diseases – Fungal diseases are by far the most serious in Moringa farming. The main symptom of this disease is brown spots on the Moringa leaves and then spread them entirely, turning the leaves yellow color and killing them.

The area around the trees should be kept clear of weeds which often host diseases in organic farming. The leaves and young shoots must be checked regularly for symptoms of fungal attacks. Early detection will save a lot of young Moringa plants from destruction. Neem leaf or seed extract can be sprayed on the Moringa plants to control pest and fungal attacks. The neem extract must be used as early as possible and sprayed repeatedly. Neem products can be formed locally and are not toxic to humans.

Organic plant protection practices are;

Developing fruit are damaged by the fruit fly which can be managed by adopting integrated pest management (IPM) measures. The package includes;

  • Application of Fenthion 80 EC 0.04% during the vegetative and flowering stage.
  • Application of Nimbecidine 0.03% at 150 ppm during 50% fruit set and 35 days after
  • Soil application of Neem seed kernel extract (NSKE) at 2 lit per tree at 50% fruit set and
  • Weekly removal of affected fruit.

How to Prune a Moringa Tree?

  • When the plant reaches 1 meter, the apex shoot of the plant can be removed to allow lateral shoots to emerge for better productivity and yield.
  • Proper support can be given to each plant.
  • First pruning must be done after 2 months of planting or when the plant reaches a height of one meter.
  • After the initial pruning to shape the Moringa trees maintenance pruning is required.
  • This can be done at each harvest if the plant leaves are removed by cutting all the stems above a certain height.
  • The bushy shape can be lost and a good pruning should be done at the onset of the rainy season.

When and How to Harvest Moringa

You can harvest Moringa after 9 months from planting. Harvest when the Moringa pods are young and about 1 cm in diameter. Older pods develop a hard texture outside with white color seeds and flesh remains edible. In some cases, it is necessary to cut the branch that holds several pods to prevent it from breaking off.

Harvest when the Moringa pods are still young about 1cm in diameter and snap easily. When producing seed for planting, allow the pods to dry and turn brown on the Moringa tree. Harvest the Moringa pods before they split open and seeds fall to the ground. Then, seeds can be stored in well-ventilated sacks in dry and shady places. Harvest Moringa pods before they open up and seeds fall to the ground. Moringa seeds can be stored in a dry and shady location to grow in the next growing season.

Commonly Asked Questions about Moringa Farming

Why did the Moringa tree call the miracle tree?

Moringa is called the miracle tree because of its leaves that contain a high nutrient value.

How much time does it take for a Moringa seed to sprout?

Take some Moringa seeds and then soak them in water for 12 hours.  Sow them in the well-drained soil. After 2 weeks seedlings can appear and continue to grow till you see seed pods.

Can Moringa survive winter?

Except for tropical climates, Moringa goes dormant in the winter season. If it gets too cold outside, the Moringa tree will die unless kept warm inside.

Can you Propagate Moringa from Cuttings?

Moringa trees grow easily from cuttings because it takes less time to harvest. Before planting choose a mature and healthy tree. To propagate drumsticks tree from cuttings, take a stem of size 1 foot tall. Now make a hole in the soil about 15 to 20 cms depth. Then, place the cutting in this hole and fill it with a mixture of sandy soil and organic compost like cow dung to protect the cuttings from pests. Keep the soil moist but not soggy. Water the plant thoroughly on regular basis. Very soon the cuttings will start sprouting.

How fast do Moringa trees grow?

Moringa trees can grow up to 18 feet in less than 6 months, making it hard to harvest leaves and seed pods.

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  1. Hello Mr. Reddy

    first of all thanks for publishing an article about Moringa, where we as a civilization are slowly understanding its benefits, very informative article,
    I am looking for organic certified farms where Moringa is grown and where proper drying of the moringa fresh leaves are kept in mind.
    Can you help me to connect with some farms or farmers whose farms are organic certified and can provide TCs?
    Looking forward to your response.
    thanks and regards


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