Planting Cassava ~ Cassava is one of the world’s most important food crops, providing quality carbohydrates in tropical regions where grains and potatoes grow poorly if at all. The roots, also known as manioc or yucca, can be stored for long periods in the ground as a hedge against famine.
The leaves can also be eaten as a nutritious green vegetable, when others are unavailable. There are two major types of cassava, though they are used similarly.
There are many kinds of cassava that are well adapted to our climate, but only four of these are common because of their low hydrocyanic acid content. They are Golden Yellow, Katabang, Macan and Brasil. Two others used in the manufacture of starch are the Hawaiian 5 and Java Brown. The Mandioca Sao Pedro Preto is not edible because of its high poison content
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Planting Cassava – Varieties Of Cassava
One of the two major varieties of cassava is referred to as “sweet” cassava. This is not because it is higher in sugars than other varieties, but because it is less poisonous. Cassava contains large quantities of cyanide compounds, which must be processed out of the tubers before they can be safely eaten. The sweet variety of cassava has fewer of these compounds, and does not require as much processing. Sweet varieties also produce higher yields.
Bitter cassava is very similar in cultivation and general appearance to sweet cassava, but produces much higher quantities of cyanide compounds. Sweet cassava my contain as few as 40 parts per million, while bitter cassava varieties can range as high as 490 parts per million. Any quantity of cyanogens over 50 parts per million is considered to be hazardous. In unsettled regions, some farmers deliberately switch to bitter cassava as a deterrent to crop theft.
Planting Cassava – Ecology and climatic requirements:
Cassava is a lowland tropics plant . It needs a warm, moist climate where mean temperature ranges from 25 to 29ºC. It poorly grows under cold climates . At temperature below 10ºC its growth stops.
The plant grows best when rainfall is 100 to 150 cm, but it can stand rainfall as low as 50cm per year. When moisture availability is low, the cassava plant ceases growth and shed some of its older leaves to reduce transpiration. When moisture becomes available , the plant resumes growth and produces new leaves. The ideal soil for cassava is a light , sandy loam soil of medium fertility.
Drainage is important. On clay or poorly drained soil, growth is generally poor. Cassava can grow and yield well on soils of low fertility where production of most other crops would be uneconomical. On highly fertile soil, cassava produces excessive vegetation at the expense of root formation. Cassava tuber root formation is controlled by photoperiod. Under short day conditions tubering occurs readily , but when the day length 12h, growth is delay
factors to consider when selecting Cassava stem for planting
Thickness of the cutting
Age of cassava stem
Number of eyes per plant
Planting Cassava – Land Preparation
Like any land preparation for planting, plow the land to remove weeds and grasses. Let it stand for a week to allow the remaining weeds to grow, then plow again. Let it stand for another week and plow for the third time.
Planting Cassava – Planting
Cassava may be planted at any season, but it is better if the soil is always wet in the first 4-5 weeks after planting.
The stem to be planted must be from a matured plant, about a year old, 25 cm long with 5-7 nodes from the bottom stem. The thickness of the stem must not be smaller than half of the fattest part of the stem from where it is cut.
If the stem is smaller than this, it will not have much nutrient content with which to start the new plant, so the roots and growths will be small.
Cut the stem crosswise with a sharp bolo . Avoid bruises and breaks, and plant within the week when the stems are cut.
Make hills about 75 cm apart from one another, depending on the kind to be planted.With the help of a pointed stick, make a hole about 18 cm deep in each hill where the stems are to be planted, one in each hole. Plant early in the morning or late afternoons during summer or any time when the sun is cool
The stems to be planted can last up to 10 days if these are wrapped in a wet cloth or sack and placed in any airy and shady place.
If it is not possible to plant immediately, these will still grow within a month if it is sprayed with any of the following before storage: Orthocide or Daconil , Manzate, Dithane, Demosan, Brassicol, Visigran, or Agallol.
It should be stored in a shady, humid or cool place with temperature between 20-30°C.
Planting Cassava – Three methods of planting cassava
- horizontal — during summer so that the plant will be kept moist.
b . vertical — during rainy days so that it will not rot if constantly wet.
c . slanting — between the two seasons mentioned.
In planting, unless the stem is horizontal, bury 3/4 of the stem in the soil, and cover the 1/4 with 10 cm fine soil.
After a month, other short term crops may be planted in between the cassava plants. But if the other plants will be as high as the cassava as they grow, they can be planted at the same time.
Planting Cassava – Fertilizer Application
When applying fertilizers for a second time, hill up around the plants, as in corn fertilizing. It needs watering, especially in the first two months of its growth, when the root crop is beginning to grow.
As much as possible, the soil where the cassava is to be planted should be analyzed at the Bureau of Soils. However, if this is not possible, the following may be used:
+100+120 NPK mix or about 222 kg urea 45-0-0
500 kg solophos (0-20-0)
200 kg muriate of potash (0-0-60)
Apply half of the N.P.K. on planting and the remaining half about two months afterwards
Planting cassava : weeds and pest Control
Cassava green mite Appearance: Cassava green mite, Mononychellus tanajoa, lives on the under surface of young cassava leaves
Mites are wingless, very tiny, and appear as specks to the naked eye. In the farm, you can see them more clearly if you look at them under a hand lens. The nymphs (immature mites) are green in color and turn yellowish as they get older.
Red mites also occur on cassava, mostly on the older leaves, but they are not common and do not cause serious damage. Crop damage symptoms: Cassava green mite sucks sap from cassava leaves and shoot tips.
The pest causes tiny yellow chlorotic spots the size of pin pricks, on the upper leaf surfaces . You should not confuse chlorotic spots caused by the pest with the chlorotic patches of cassava mosaic disease . Young leaves attacked by cassava green – mite become small and narrow
The pest kills the terminal leaves and as these drop the shoot tip looks like a “candlestick” . Cassava crop damage by the pest is more severe in the dry than in the wet season
Planting Cassava – Pests
Thrips : there are more than 6,000 species sucking the life from plants all over the world. Get rid of them naturally without resorting to toxic sprays by using these SAFE, organic methods.
Cassava shoot fly are the few pests of cassava : Malathion or Servin may be sprayed on insects pests, but the bigger enemies are the rats and pigs .
To control the yellowing and eventual falling of leaves, spray demothoate 3 spoons for every (kerosene) can of water, or follow the
instructions on the label.
Spray every 2-4 weeks. But the best measure against insect pests are the natural pesticides like the mixture of wild pepper, makabuhay and the like.
Planting Cassava – Diseases
Cassava bacterial blight : Cassava bacterial blight, incited by Xanthomonas axonopodis pv. manihotis (Xam) is a serious threat to cassava plants in several developing countries in both Africa and South America.
African mosaic disease :
African cassava mosaic virus (ACMV, ICTV approved acronym) is a plant pathogenic virus of the family Geminiviridae that may cause either a mosaicappearance to plant leaves, or chlorosis, a loss of chlorophyll. In Manihot esculenta, a highly valuable African food crop, the virus causes severe mosaic.
Planting Cassava – Harvest
Cassava may be harvested 10-14 months after planting. Try first a few roots’. If the rest of the crops don’t grow any more, then it is time to harvest. Plow the field or carefully pull up the crops manually. Cassava is sold fresh or dried as flakes. Wash well, peel and shred, then dry.
Harvest and Storage of Cassava
It will be ready for harvest from six to seven months after planting. This is sweet if harvested at the right age, but premature, it is tasteless and rots easily. When over mature, it will have harbored mold (bukbok) and/or will be eaten by pests, and the fibers will be tough.
Don’t harvest just after a rain or when the soil is wet. The crops will rot easily and it will be difficult to clean off the soil around it.
If the soil is compact, loosen it first with a pointed wooden stick, not metal, so as not to bruise, or hurt the crop. Pull up the whole plant gently, with all its root crop.
Don’t drag so as not to bruise, which will cause the start of rotting. In separating the crop from the stem, don’t just break it off . Use a sharp knife for cutting closest to the stem. Don’t leave the crops exposed under the sun but in the shade. Separate the small ones from the large ones, and the damage from the undamaged or unhurt. Cook soon those with damage or bruises as these will be the first to rot, or use the damaged crops and the small ones as animal feed. The good ones and matured may be stored or sold.
Planting Cassava – Storage
There are two easy of storing cassava that enables it to last 3-4 months. This is by keeping them in a hole in the ground, or by storing the crops in a wooden box. In transporting the crops from the field to the storage place, put them in a firm container (like a basket not sack) so as to avoid bruises that will eventually cause rotting.
Storage in the Ground
In an elevated and shady place, where one side is lower than the other and does not log water, dig a hole about 30-40 cm deep, one meter long (or depending on the amount of crops to be stored), and about one meter wide.
This can contain about 75 kilos of crops. Digging should be downward. At the end of the down end, make a canal about 20 cm wide crosswise and deeper by about 7 cm than the big hole, where the water will run when it rains.
Arrange the mature crops and without bruises in the hole.
Cover with soil (better if sand) every layer.
If sand is not available, clay may be used, but not very wet, because this will hasten the rotting of the stored crops.
Storage in a Wooden Box
The storage box must be made of wood, about one-half meter wide, 60 cm long and 30 cm high. This can accommodate about 20 kg of cassava packed in sand or wood shavings. The box must have its own cover.
Fill the bottom of the box with 3 cm thick moist (not wet) sand or wood shavings.
Arrange the crops one beside the other and cover with moist sand or wood shavings.
After each layer of crops, cover with sand or shavings.
Cover the last layer with about 8-9 cm thick of same before putting on the lid.
Store the box with cassava in a cool and dry place.
Do not place directly on the ground, and stack up alternately so as to allow circulation of air between them.
This manner of storage will keep the crops up to 3 months.
Cassava production in Ghana has grown steadily from 8,107,000Mt in 2000 to 13,504,000Mt in 2010, and it is estimated to exceed 15,000,000Mt in 2016
There is a cassava processing company in Ghana that processes the root crop into starch for industrial use. This is then used for various products such as some of the beer we see in our bars.
The business should start with at least 30 acres, in order to cover certain fixed cost within a reasonable time.
|Farm Size||Estimated Cost||Expected Harvest (GHc)|
|In acres||GHc||8 tonnes||9 tonnes||10 tonnes|