Harvesting of Crude Drugs

Harvesting of Crude Drugs: Harvesting of crude drugs is an important operation in cultivation technology, as it reflects upon the economic aspects of crude drugs. An important point that needs attention over here is the type of drug to be harvested and the pharmacopoeial standards which it needs to achieve. Harvesting can be done efficiently in every respect by skilled workers. Selectivity is of advantage in that the drugs other than genuine, but similar in appearance can be rejected at the site of collection. It is, however, a laborious job and may not be economical. In certain cases, it cannot be replaced by any mechanical means, e.g. digitalis, tea, vinca, and senna leaves. The underground drugs like roots, rhizomes, tubers, etc. are harvested by mechanical devices, such as diggers or lifters. The tubers or roots are thoroughly washed in water to get rid of earthy matter. Drugs that constitute all aerial parts are harvested by binders for economic reasons. Many times, flowers, seeds, and small fruits are harvested by a special device known as a seed stripper. The technique of beating plants with bamboos is used in the case of cloves. The cochineal insects are collected from branches of cacti by brushing. The seaweeds producing agar are harvested by long-handled forks. Peppermint and spearmint are harvested by normal method with mowers, whereas fennel, coriander, and caraway plants are uprooted and dried. After drying, either they are thrashed or beaten and the fruits are separated by winnowing. Sometimes, reaping machines are also used for their harvesting.

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