Cassava, known as one of Nigeria’s major staple food crop, is known for its ability to produce yield even on poor soils, in areas with low or irregular rainfall. However, maximum yield cannot be realized until some critical farming constraints are reduced to produce higher-yielding, well-adapted varieties.
A wide range of farm practices and environmental factors should be considered for maximum yield in cassava farming. These include:
Get Improved Planting Materials
You should select improved varieties of cassava planting materials i.e. cassava stems cuttings that are just the right amount of mature, and not dry. The variety depends on what you want. There are cassava stems cuttings exclusively for high yield, Vitamin-A fortified varieties are also available if you want to cultivate for personal processing into various forms of food.
Also, the use of high-quality planting materials that maintain genetic purity and are free of diseases and pathogens is crucial in cassava production.
Ensure Adequate Plant Population
A minimum of 70 bundles of cassava stems per hectare should be utilized. With the use of a cassava planter, a minimum of 28 tonnes / 12,500 plants per hectare is certain if a 0.8m x 1m spacing is adhered to, with good management. Optimum plant population is necessary for you to maintain maximum yield by the time of harvest.
Plant population can also form a canopy to prevent weed infestation, as well as applying adequate herbicides. Everything should be done to protect the plant population.
Use Mechanized Farming
A Cassava farmland should be prepared thoroughly using standard tractors, plough, harrow, cassava planter (it may be two rolls or four rolls), boom sprayer, cassava cultivator and harvester. These would break the soil and make the cassava roots become bigger in loose and fertile soil. Mechanization of cassava farming is inevitable if you want to get maximum yield.
It takes 45 minutes to plant one hectare mechanically; this reduces labour, production and processing costs.
A minimum of four bags of fertilizer per hectare is guaranteed to give an increase of 200 per cent in yield. The right concentration must be used, mixing ratio must be done properly, and at the time of spraying, there must be low sunshine to reduce evaporation.
The choice of soil is also important, though cassava grows anywhere, but when the soil is rich, it helps in getting better yield, with minimal fertilizer or manure application.
Cassava has several mechanisms with which it conserves water. Its roots can grow to great depths to access subsoil moisture, allowing it to withstand relatively prolonged periods of drought. However, the crop is very sensitive to soil water deficit during the first three months after planting. Water stress in that early period significantly reduces the growth of roots and shoots and impairs development of the storage roots.
Cassava also responds well to irrigation. Cassava root yield can increase six-fold when water supplied by irrigation is relatively equal to that of the season’s rainfall. However, cassava is also susceptible to excess water i.e. if the soil becomes water-logged, early growth is affected and yields fall.
The biggest determinant of yield however is the number of plants standing at the time of harvest and is governed by factors such as selection of good and well-drained soil, good cassava stems variety and ensuring that the planting formation is right. Good cassava farming for maximum yield is a knowledge-driven activity. Be sure to give it the attention it deserves.
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