A Comprehensive Guide on How to Plant Cassava

Cassava (Manihot Esculenta) is the third-largest source of food carbohydrates in the tropics after rice and maize. In this post, we will highlight the comprehensive guide on how to start a cassava farm. According to Wikipedia, the origin of cassava can be traced back to West-central Brazil where it was likely first domesticated no more than 10,000 years BP. It was however introduced to Africa by Portuguese traders from Brazil in the 16th century. Today, Nigeria ranks first position as the world largest producer of cassava. This is followed by…

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Thinning of Plantain Suckers

Unlike those of most other bananas, plantain suckers develop very slowly. After harvest, all suckers start to grow at the same time and most have to be eliminated to stop competition. The tallest is left to guarantee the follow up and maintain the density. Thinning usually has to be repeated a month later, as new suckers will have emerged by that time. Suckers are thinned with a machete. The sucker pseudo stem is cut off near its corm and the point of the machete is twisted in the growing tip,…

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Required Spacing for Plantain Cultivation

The recommended spacing is 3 m between the plantain rows and 2 m within the row (in other words. 3 m x 2 m). An alternative is 2.5 m x 2.5 m. If spaced 3 m x 2 m, 1 hectare should contain 1667 plants, but with a spacing of 2.5 m x 2.5 m, it should contain 1600 plants. Rows should be straight in flat fields to give plants the maximum amount of sunlight. However, on sloping land, rows should follow the contour lines in order to decrease soil…

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Selecting the site for Plantain Cultivation

The site should be easily accessible, especially if the establishment of a large field is being planned. It should be well drained but not too steeply sloped. Plantain cultivation is impossible if the land becomes flooded from time to time, or has a water table at a depth of only 50 cm or less. The soil should be rich in organic matter (black soil). Hence fields in a long natural fallow, under an improved established fallow or with a lot of mulch are recommended.

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Plantain Inter-cropping

Plantain fields are arranged in rows spaced 3 m x 2 m. As the canopy closes only some 5 to 6 months after planting, a fair amount of inter-row space remains un-exploited during the first months. This space can be used for plants which have a short life cycle and which do not compete with plantains. Groundnut, yam, cocoyam and maize are suitable inter-crops although maize effectively delays the plantain harvest by about 2 months. Cassava and cowpea are not suitable, because their yields are reduced under the shade of…

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Preparing the field for Plantain Cultivation

Fields are to be prepared with minimum disturbance to the soil (no-tillage farming). In consequence, manual clearing should be preferred to mechanical deforestation because bulldozers always remove topsoil with the important organic matter and compact the remaining soil. When an old natural fallow is cleared, the debris from the forest should be burned if plantain cultivation is planned for 1 or 2 cycles only. If perennial cultivation is being considered, planting should be done through the mulch .Young fallows of about 3 to 5 years or improved legume fallows should…

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Ways of Preparing of Plantain suckers

Suckers are separated from their mother plant with a spade or machete. The sucker corm must not be damaged or chipped. Consequently the corm should be carefully peeled with a machete. The pseudo stem of the suckers should be cut off a few centimeters above the corm. Peeling of the corm delays the development of nematode infestation, while cutting of the pseudo stem reduces bulkiness and improves early growth of the newly planted sucker. The peeling process is just like that for cassava. A freshly peeled healthy corm ought to…

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Method of Planting Plantain Suckers (PPS)

Suckers are planted immediately after field preparation. Plant holes are prepared with a minimum size of about 30 cm x 30 cm x 30 cm. Care should be taken to separate the topsoil from bottom soil. The sucker is placed in the hole and its corm is covered, first with the topsoil and then with the bottom soil. In the plant hole, the side of the sucker corm which was formerly attached to the corm of its mother plant is placed against the wall of the hole. The opposite side…

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Plantain’s Planting Period (PPP)

Plantains can be planted throughout the rainy season. However, they should grow vigorously and without stress during the first 3 to 4 months after planting, and therefore they should not be planted during the last months of the rainy season. Planting with the first rains seems agronomically sound but not financially advantageous. Most farmers will plant at the onset of the rains, causing the market to be flooded with bunches 9 to 12 months after planting, when prices will be very low. Planting in the middle of the rainy season…

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Weed Management on Plantain Cultivation

Weeds can be hand-pulled or chemically controlled. Paraquat and simazine are appropriate herbicides since they control the weeds without affecting the plantains, unless leaves are accidentally sprayed. Glyphosate, diuron and gramuron are not recommended as they can be phytotoxic to plantains. Plantains should always be weed-free. Weed control starts during field preparation. Weeds are initially controlled about every 6 to 8 weeks; but when the plantain canopy closes, about 5 to 6 months after planting, weed infestation declines due to shading. Any plant with a superficial root system should be…

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