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Script 37.1

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If you use high quality cuttings to plant cassava, you can increase the yield of your next cassava crop.

If you grow cassava, you know that you start a new crop by planting sections of the stems of mature cassava plants. We call these stem cuttings. They’re also known as planting stakes, planting sticks or cassava seed. In order to grow a successful crop there are some important things to consider when choosing stem cuttings to plant.

Healthy cassava cuttings
First of all, consider the health of the cassava plants from which you take the cuttings. It’s best to take them from strong, healthy cassava plants. If you choose cuttings from unhealthy plants, then your new plants may become diseased. Another problem is insects. Look carefully: don’t take cuttings from plants with any signs of insects on them. For example, if you see greyish white sticky liquid on the leaves or tender stems, that’s a sure sign of a bad cassava pest.

Also, don’t take cuttings from plants that have wrinkled leaves, mottled or spotted leaves, a rotting stem or roots, withered top branches, cuts or bruises, insect eggs or larvae on them.

These are all signs of unhealthy or insect infected plants which should not be used. Cuttings from unhealthy plants will produce more unhealthy plants.

Age of cuttings
The age of the plant from which you choose a cutting is also important. Take cuttings from plants that are mature and have fully grown tubers. They’ll produce the strongest new plants. In most cases this means that the plants you choose will be at least 8 10 months old.

Location and size of cuttings
Now it’s time to decide where on the stem to make the cuttings. You can get a number of cuttings from each stem. In general, cuttings from the base and middle sections of the stem will grow more quickly and produce more tubers than cuttings from the top of the stem. So, to get good tuber production choose cuttings from the lower parts of the stem.

The next step is to make the cuttings. There is a certain size of cutting which will sprout evenly and quickly and have the best chance of producing lots of tubers. The best size is 20 to 30 centimetres long and at least 2 centimetres thick. The cutting should have 5 to 7 nodes or leaf marks.

Remember that the quality of your new cassava crop will depend directly on the quality of the stem cuttings you select and plant.

In summary:

  • Choose undamaged plants that have no disease or insect damage.
  • Choose cuttings that have no cuts or bruises.
  • Take cuttings from mature plants that have fully grown tubers and are at least 8 to 10 months old.
  • Take cuttings that come from the bottom and middle parts of the stem.
  • Make cuttings that are 20 to 30 centimetres long, at least 2 centimetres thick and have 5 to 7 nodes.

If you follow these steps your next cassava crop should provide lots of food for you and your family and for your livestock.

Information Sources

Production of Cassava Planting Material, J. Carlos Lozano, Julio Cesar Toro, Abelardo Castro and Anthony C. Bellotti, 1977, 28 pages. Cassava Information Centre, Centro Internacional de Agricultura Tropical (CIAT), Apartado Aéreo 6713, Calí, Colombia

“Roots and tubers” in Better Farming Series, No. 16, 58 pages. Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), Via delle terme di Caracalla, 10100 Rome, Italy and Institut Africain pour le Developpement Economique et Social (INADES), B.P. 8008, Abidjan, Ivory Coast.

Cassava, 1986, 13 pages. Department of Primary Industry, Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea. Como Cultivar Yuca, (How to grow cassava), Cartillera Campesina No. 7, October 1980, 10 pages. Instituto Colombiano, Agropecuario, Ministerio de Agricultura, Bogota, Colombia.

Improve Your Cassava Crop, Alvaro Bustamente A., 1984, 10 pages. World Neighbours, 5116 North Portland Avenue, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma 73112, U.S.A.