Harvest starts generally by January 15 and ends in February-March. Women, and some men, take care of the harvest. This work is long and is undertaken twice a day. Bulbs whose petals have recently fallen are incised during a sunny afternoon with a 2, 3 or 4 edged knife. In fact, the head must be hot to allow the resin to liquify and flow outside the bulb. The bulbs are incised first on one side, and a second time the following day on the other side. The resin hardens in the night’s coolness and is harvested early in the morning, between 5 and 10 o’clock, before it softens. Harvest is made with a small locally manufactured clip.
Good harvest is recorded when density and homogeneity of seedling are favourable for growth, there is good soil fertility and a foggy and cold climate in November and December. This favours the development of the bulb. Good harvests are also where the climate during the harvesting period is sunny in the afternoon for incision, and cool, cloudy and humid in the night time and in the morning. Villages reported that the white petal poppy variety gives a better yield than the purple variety.
Drying and storage
The harvest is left to dry and oxidise for one to three days in full sun, then left to brown for some days in the house, before it is divided into small balls enveloped with bamboo paper. Each packet is weighed and stored in the house. The opium may be preserved for several years in this way.
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