Choosing cassava stem cuttings for planting

Crop production


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Use only good quality stem cuttings to increase the yield of your next cassava crop. Consider the health and age of the plant, where on the plant to take the cuttings, and cutting size. Cassava is also known by the names manioc, manihot, yuca, and tapioca.

Information on this subject area was requested by DCFRN participants in Cameroon, Dominican Republic, East Caroline Islands, India, Nigeria, Paraguay, and Venezuela.

The item: Cassava is a popular crop. From it, more food can be produced on a small plot than from any other crop. For this reason, it is widely grown throughout the developing world. It can be processed in a number of ways for both human food and animal feed. It’s a crop that grows well even on poor soils and under very dry conditions.

If you grow cassava, you know that at the time of harvesting your cassava roots, you start your new crop by cutting and then planting sections of the stems of your 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 for you to consider when choosing stem cuttings to plant.

Health of cassava cuttings

First of all, you must consider the health of the cassava plant from which you are going to take the cuttings. Of course, it’s best to take them from strong, healthy cassava plants. If you choose cuttings from unhealthy plants, then your new plants are very likely to become diseased. Another problem is insects. So, look carefully and don’t take cuttings from plants with any signs of insects on them. If you see greyish-white, sticky stuff on the leaves or tender stems, that’s a sure sign of one of the worst cassava pests. It’s there to protect the insect eggs.

So, 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

– and don’t take cuttings that have insect eggs or larvae on them.

These are all signs of unhealthy or insect-infected plants. Cuttings from them will produce more unhealthy or insect- infected plants.

Age of cuttings

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

Location and size of cuttings

You must now decide where on the plant stem to make the cuttings. You can get a number of cuttings from each stem and, in general, the cuttings from the base and middle sections of the stem will grow more quickly and produce more tubers than cuttings taken 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 actually 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 cm (8 to 12 inches) long and at least 2 cm (3/4 of an inch) thick. The cutting should have five to seven nodes or leaf marks. And once again, your cuttings should grow well and produce lots of tubers for you if they are 20 to 30 cm (8 to 12 inches) long and at least 2 cm (3/4 of an inch) thick, with five to seven nodes.

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

In summary:

* Choose undamaged plants that have no disease or insect infestation.

* Choose cuttings that have no cuts or bruises.

* Take cuttings from mature plants that have fully grown tubers and are at least eight to 10 months old.

* Take cuttings that come from the bottom and middle parts of the stem.

* Make cuttings that are 20 to 30 cm (8 to 12 inches) long, at least 2 cm (3/4 of an inch) thick, and have five to seven nodes.

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

Serving Agriculture, the Basic Industry, this is




This is the first of two items on cassava in this package. You may wish to use these items together.

Information sources

1. Lozano, J. C., et al, 1977. Production of Cassava Planting Material. Cassava Information Centre, Centro Internacional de Agricultura Tropical (CIAT), Cali, Colombia. 

2. Henderson, A.J., 1977. Roots and Tubers (58 pages). Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), Rome, Italy. Better Farming Series No. 16. 

3. Cock, J.H., 1985, Cassava; New Potential for a Neglected Crop (1985, 192 pages. International Agricultural Development Service and CIAT (Centro Internacional de Agricultura Tropical).