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Components of ‘New’ Technology for improving Cassava Productivity
By Don McGlashan and Morris Taylor Research and Development Bodles Research Station
Cassava has been regarded as a rugged crop which is tolerant to many pests and diseases, weeds, poor soils and is grown mostly by subsistence farmers. This has contributed to keeping cassava yields in Jamaica at between 9-18 t/ha (4 - 8 ton/ac). While these yields are higher than the world averages of 8.8 t/ha. The potential yield of cassava can be as high as 70 t/ha.
To address the problem of low yields the following production package is recommended.
Choose varieties which are consistently high producers, matures in 9 -12 months and are tolerant to major pests and diseases.
Plough to a depth of 3Ocm (12ins.), then harrow. Create ridges to heights of 30-60cm (12ins. - 24ins.). Higher mounds are required in heavy clays where drainage may be a problem. Ridge lands along the contour of the land. Avoid soil loss by erosion.
Planting Material Selection
Seed treatment advantages
This inexpensive treatment protects seeds from attack by soil-borne pathogens and by surface pests such as mites and mealy-bugs, thus greatly improving the sprouting percentages. When cuttings are treated, yields will increase by more than 25 percent.
Cassava cuttings may be planted vertically, at an angle or horizontally. Place at least two- thirds of the seed below ground.This will facilitate good root development and prevent seeds from drying out rapidly in case of prolonged drought.
Allow for 12,000 plants/ha (4,840 plants/ac) by placing seeds 0.9m x 0.9m (3ft. x 3ft.) across the field on the prepared ridges.
Time of planting Plant to coincide with the rainy season if no irrigation is available.
Newly planted cassava grows slowly and is vulnerable to weed competition.
Wezds can reduce yields as much as up to 50 percent. It is important to control weeds in the first 3-4 months after planting.
Weeds may be controlled by:
Fertilizer application is optional. Do not follow one crop of cassava after another. This is an important consideration from a nutritional as well as for pest control. If grown in the same area over two (2) seasons fertilizer must be applied.
Cassava varieties mature in 7 - 12 months.
Some signs of maturity
For best economic returns cassava should be harvested at 9 - 12 months.