Black pepper, known as the ‘king of spices,’ is the most important spice crop of Kerala. Being cultivated from time immemorial it has played an integral part in the history of our country. Owing its origin to the tropical rain forests of the Western Ghats, black pepper has a long tradition of cultivation and trade in North Malabar region. A number of indigenous practices and farmer innovations are observed in pepper cultivation in this region.
A large number of varieties of pepper, each one with specific characteristics, are grown in North Malabar region. Some of these varieties are Narayakodi, Chorakodi, Kumbakodi, Munda, Perumkodi, Balankotta, Uthiram kotta, Kalluvalli, Arakulam munda, Irumaniyan (only two berries are present), Malakotta (a ring like mark is observed on the berries), Arivally, Uthiri, Karimkotta, Neelimunda (comparatively foot rot tolerant variety, good yield), and Vellanamban (comparatively disease resistant with good yield, the new flush have pale white colour, flower and fruit throughout the year).
Selection of Standards
Farmers traditionally selected many suitable standards for trailing pepper vines such as murikku (Erythrina indica), seemakonna (Glyricidia maculata), muringa (Moringa olifera), plavu (Artocarpus integrifolia), karayam, and ambazham (Spondias sp). Erythrina is the popular standard tree with two types, vellamurikku and karimurikku.
Raising Erythrina Seedlings for Standard
Seeds of Erythrina are collected during summer and sown with a spacing of two to three feet during April–May, immediately following the receipt of summer showers.