Robert is Agribusiness Consultant who studied Agribusiness Management
Cassava Farming Techniques
Cassava is a woody perennial plant which can grow up to 5 meters in height. During Cassava growth, the shrubs are able to produce several tuberous roots as reserves. These tuberous roots are rich in 35% starch, which may reach up to 1 meter in length and has a potential to weigh up to 40 kg if grown in a good soil with a good management. Cassava still gives a good results if it is planted with another crop or may be planted alone. The other crops which it can be planted in combination can be such as maize, plantain, vegetables or legumes. Cassava cultivation is considered labour friendly as it does not require much labour and it only take a range of 8 to 10 months to be ready for harvesting for sweet tuber Varieties whereas for the bitter varieties, it takes 12th months for harvest to start.
The two commonly grown cultivars in different countries are Bitter and sweet Cultivars.
Cassava is one of the crops which requires a warm, humid climate. It is considered as a tropical plant and performs well in areas having a temperature range and altitude of 15 °C North and 15 °C South. The temperature accelerates the growth and it's known that the growth stops whenever the temperature falls below 10 °C. The optimal results are obtained in areas having an average temperature of 25 °C and 29 °C and an altitude of 150 meters above the sea level. Some varieties are able to survive and still give a good result at altitudes of up to 1500 m. Cassava is a short day plant since it is a tropical crop.
Cassava performs well in areas having abundant rainfall, which is well distributed, but it is able to survive in areas with a low rainfall as low as 500 mm. The Cassava plant is able to withstand the prolonged drought.
Cassava plants require light, sandy loams or on loamy sands to give the best results and the soil has to be moist, fertile and deep.
Make sure you select a site which has a good soil fertility for best results. Cassava does not perform well on Sandy and clay soils, but give best results in a light, deep soil having a good texture. You can know if the type of soil in your area is suitable or not through a soil analysis.
Site preparation for Cassava plants
Having chosen a good site which has a fertile soil, the next step is to prepare the site to be ready for Cassava cultivation. To prepare the site you clear the area and dig then make ridges wether with a hoe or mechanically.
Selection of cuttings
Make sure you select varieties which have, high dry matter content and has to be well adapted to your local conditions. Selection of varieties with early tuberisation may result in high yields.
Cassava is propagated from cuttings. Make sure you collect the cuttings of 20 to 30 cm long from healthy stems to get high yield. Make sure you collect cuttings which are around 12 months old.
It is known that when you plant Cassava together with other crops it reduces the danger of crop loss due to unfavorable weather conditions and pests and diseases unlike if the Cassava plants are left to grow alone. Make sure you alternate the cassava crop with a rest period and during this rest period you can grow a legume cover crop. Cassava achieves a plant population of 6,000 and 10,000 plants per hectare. The recommended spacing is 1.5 x 1 m to 1 x 1 m for single cultivation and 2 x 2 m with intercropping.
The Cassava fertilizer application is not recommended. However, for the production of cuttings, mineral fertilizer is recommended. Make sure you apply dolomite lime at a ratio of 100 kg per hectare during soil preparation. NPK fertilizer (10, 18, 18) may be applied two weeks after planting at a rate of 300 kg per hectare. Organic fertilizer is necessary for the production of Cassava tubers.
Cassava is known to be a drought tolerant and is able to survive even in prolonged drought and is rarely irrigated. You irrigate in a situation where moisture content is very low such that the cassava plant cannot survive anymore.
Make sure you keep your Cassava field clean all the time by removing the grown weeds which may compete with the Cassava plant and may also be the source of pests and diseases.
To harvest first cult the Cassava stem about 24 to 34 cm above the ground and dig using a hoe. After digging you remove the tuber by hands.