Package of Practices for Cultivation of Opium

Package of Practices for Cultivation of Opium

Botanical Name: Papaver somniferum L.
Family: Papaveraceae

The opium poppy Papaver somniferum is an outstanding medicinal plant, the products of which viz. opium and codeine are important medicines used for their analgesic and hypnotic effects. A spmi synthetic derivative of this drug from morphine known as heroin has led to world wide social; problems but attempts to find a synthetic drub which would replace morphine and codeine have not been fruitful so far. Its cultivation in India is confined to states of Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh.

Climate and Soil:

It is a crop of temperate climate but can be grown successfully during wjnter in, sub tropical regions. Cool climate favours higher yield, while, higher day / night temperature generally affects the yield. Frosty or desiccating, temperature, cloudy or rainy weather tends to reduce not only the quantity but also the quality of opimum.

Optimum, poppy prefers a well drained, highly fertile, light or loam soil with an optimum pH around 7.0.


A large number of races of optimum followed by their local names are reported to grow in India. They usually vary in leaf characters, floral characters or capsular
characters. Telia, Dholia are some of the local races recommended for commercial cultivation.


The seed is either sown broadcast or in lines. Before sowing, the seeds may be treated with fungicides like dithane M-45 @ 4 g per kg of seeds. Seed .is usually mixed with fine sand before broadcasting to ensure uniform spread in the bed. Line sowing is preferred to broadcasting as the latter method has many drawbacks like higher seed fate, poor crop stand and difficulty in carrying out inter cultural operations. The best time for sowing is late October or early November. Seed rate is .7-8 kg/ha for broadcast method and 4-5 kg/ha for line. Spacing of 30 cm between lines and 30 cm between plants is normally adopted.

Manures and Manuring:

Opium poppy responds remarkably to the application of manures and fertilizers which increase both the yield and quality of opium.

Farm yard manure @ 20-30 t/ha is generally applied by broadcasting while the field is prepared for sowing. Besides, 60-80 kg of N and 40-50 kg of P205 per ha is recommended. No potash is applied. Half of N and entire P are applied at sowing time through placement and remaining half of N Placed at rosette stage


A careful irrigation management schedule is essential to get a good crop of poppy. A light irrigation is given immediately after sowing followed by another light irrigation after 7 days when the seeds start germinating. Three irrigations at an interval of 12-15 days are given till pre-flowering stage and then irrigation frequency is reduced at 8-10 days during flowering and capsule formation stage.

Lancing and Latex Collection:

Opium starts flowering in 95-115 days after sowing. The petals start shedding after 3-4 days of flowering. The capsules mature after 15-20 days of flowering. Lancing of the capsules exudes maximum latex at this stage. This stage can be visually judged by the compactness and a change in the colour from greenish to light green coloured ring in the capsule. The stage is called as industrial maturity.

Harvesting and Threshing:

The crop is left for drying for about 20-25 days when the last lancing on the capsules stops exudation of latex. The capsules are then picked up and the plant is; removed with sickles. Harvested capsules are dried in open yard and seeds are collected by beating with a wooden rod.

The yield of raw opium varies from 50 to 60 kg/ha.

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