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“White Gunea Yam”( Dioscorea rotundata) is the popular species of Yam cultivated in West Africa. West Africa contributes to about 60% of the world's production of Yam. It is mainly exported to the United States of America, United Kingdom, Netherlands, France, Germany, and even Japan. Ghana is claimed to be the major exporter of yams ( about 90% of total yams exported from West Africa annually). Nigeria is the major producer of yam in the world followed by Ivory Coast. Despite being the highest producer of yams, the country isn't really garnering much earnings from the product.
Several factors are left to be blamed for this, however this inefficiency could be rectified with good and through marketable farming procedures. These principles and procedures would be outlined and completely comprehensible for any class of potential yam farmers.
YAM FARMING: Locating a Suitable Farmland
Yams are not planted in any so-found type of soil. Optimal yams are produced with sandy loam and silt loam type of soil. Good yams apart from these listed soil types could be cultivated from clay soil especially one with high concentration of organic matter.
On the soil you plant your yam, make sure there is little moisture in it(preferably let it be on a stony ground). Certain type of yam do like grounds with less moisture but some on the other hand do like moisture.
Forest lands in most tropical region offers ideal environment for growing yam both in soil quality and climate conditions. Summing up, Yams do like ground with high organic matter concentration - so do most crops.
YAM FARMING: Preparation Of The Land
Clearing the ground for Yam planting doesn't differ much as for any other crop plant. Clear the bush and burn the grasses with fire around the months of February and April when the rainy season is just beginning. This is the ideal season for Yam planting.
After the bush had been cleared, make heaps of loose soil of about one meter (1 m) in height and one meters apart. If heaps of loose soil aren't your favourite, make a good ridged bed for you yams. The ridges should be constructed one meters apart. In the case of sloping or rolling fields, construction of ridges should follow the contour to minimize soil erosion.
In all type of moulds, make sure any sharp or injurious objects are considerably removed from the heaps. These could hinder the growth of the yam tuber.
YAM FARMING: Preparation Of Setts
Setts are whole tubers or tuber that is cut in pieces used for planting. If the tuber is small, it can be planted whole, but if it is big, it has to be cut in pieces to the size of 60g to 100g.
It is common for setts to be used large, as it is claimed productive. Making the setts too large is definitely a waste as much of the yam that should be consumed is buried. Making of setts from yam tubers is really the most sensitive among other procedures in yam planting.
The Setts so taken from healthy tubers of healthy plants should contain bud (although mainly necessary for head setts).
There are about 3 types of setts obtained from yam tubers namely: head setts, middle setts and tail setts.
Appropriate sett size are not sliced while larger tubers are sliced into the desired sett size so that each sett has sufficient skin surface area.
Cut sides of the setts are treated with ash or with fungicide and air dried. After air drying, setts are either pre-sprouted or planted directly.
YAM FARMING: Pre-Sprouting Of Setts
Pre-Sprouting of Setts involves presenting the before demarcated setts in a well ventilated environment to grow buds. The emergence period of most freshly prepared setts in the field lasts from three to twelve weeks, it is desirable to pre-sprout the setts before they are planted. This procedure minimizes expenses on weeding before sett emergence.
To pre-sprout a sett, a shallow ditch is dug( this is often unnecessary) in a clear shaded area under trees, bananas, or preferably under a shed. Setts are covered with dry grasses or dry banana leaves.
Setts are grouped according to type, that is depending on the size of tubers. They are watered at least once a week until all the setts have produced sprouts.
YAM FARMING: Planting Procedures
White yam is usually planted around March to April. It is best to start pre-sprouting early before the planting season pass by. Pre-sprout your yams about 2-3 weeks before the yam planting season dawns - that is about the beginning of rainy season.
In the planting proper, the distance between the planted yam should be 1m x 1m and at a depth of about 10cm. About 20,000 to 27,778 setts are needed for one hectare of farmland.
Setts , while planting should be oriented so that sprouts are up. To achieve this, the cut surface has to face the ground.
YAM PLANTING: Mulching
Mulching for yams shouldn't be done on probability ; it is a must to high yam yield. It is done in order to reduce soil temperature, conserve soil moisture and suppress weed growth. Dry coconut fronds, corn stalks, rice straw and other similar materials may be used as mulch. The decaying materials used not only adds nutrients to the Yam heaps but guide against loose moulds.
YAM FARMING: Staking The Yam climbers
Yam plants are recommendedly staked before the vines start crawling. The recommended stake length is 5 to 10 meters . You need to make a stake to every plant. Bamboo poles are the most desirable staking material, similar material that can support the yam vines for at least seven months can be used as stakes. The various methods of staking includes:
→ Trellis method (posts and tie wire)
→ Modified trellis method: With this method, ground spaces under the stake arch need not be weeded as the foliage becomes dense. Also, stakes formed in this manner provide stable support.
→ Pyramid method: This staking method has the advantages and disadvantages of the modified trellis method. It requires fewer, but heftier materials for stake construction. It also requires lesser amount of labor to construct. It's disadvantage is that yams grown under this method usually yield lower than the other methods.
YAM PLANTING: Weed Control
The number of times a yam farm needs to be weeded depends on the use of pre-sprouted setts, the application of mulch and the rate of weed growth. If non-pre-sprouted setts are used and the field is not mulched, two to three weeding operations are needed before the yam canopy covers the space between rows to partially suppress weed growth. Use of herbicides is not preferable.
YAM PLANTING: Harvesting
When you notice the foliage of a Yam plant is drying up (color is yellowing ), then the plan is ready for harvest. The yellowing or drying up period of the foliage usually starts in late November and lasts until February the following year. Tubers, especially those intended to be used as setts for next season’s planting are harvested at the later part of the period. Tubers intended for consumption or for the market are sometimes harvested earlier, sometimes before foliage yellowing.
A hoe and a shove is the basic tool for the harvest of Yam. After uprooting, the tuber is lifted and clinging soil particles are removed.
As read, yam planting is a conscientious and meticulous kind of planting. It requires sensitive procedure.
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