Gardening

How to plant cassava

Manihot esculenta

Cassava is classified as manioc or manioc, according to the content of cyanide produced in its tuberous roots, which is much higher in manioc than in manioc. The manioc is also called cassava or manioc.

Climate

Cassava is a plant of tropical origin, native to Brazil, and needs temperatures above 18 ° C to develop well, and the ideal for cultivation is a hot and humid climate.

Brightness

Cassava needs good light and can be grown in direct sunlight or in partial shade.

Ground

Cassava can be grown even in poorly fertile soils, as long as they are well drained. Heavy clayey soils and compacted soils are not suitable, as they hinder root growth. The most suitable is that the soil is permeable, fertile, rich in organic matter, with a pH between 5 and 6.

Irrigation

Irrigate in order to keep the soil always moist, without being soaked. The plant is very sensitive to the lack of water during the first five months of cultivation. When well developed, plants are tolerant to periods of drought.

Planting

The planting is carried out from pieces of stem of healthy adult plants, called manivas, with 15 to 25 cm in length and about 2.5 cm in diameter. The handles are placed in grooves or pits from 5 to 10 cm deep, and can be arranged in a horizontal, vertical or oblique position. Sticking upright or tilted, the leaves give rise to plants whose roots will be deeper, resulting in a more laborious harvest. Arranged horizontally, in the direction of the groove, the roots will be more superficial, facilitating the harvest. The advantage of vertical and inclined positioning is that the percentage of sprouts that will sprout is higher than in horizontal planting, resulting in a higher yield per area.

The generally recommended spacing is 1 m between rows and 50 to 60 cm between plants, which may vary with soil fertility, the region’s climate and the cultivar used. It is also recommended to plant with double rows, where the distance between the furrows is alternately 2 m and 60 cm, that is, a distance of 2 m between two rows and then 60 cm until the next row, then 2 m until the next , etc., keeping 50 to 60 cm between plants in the same row.

Although it is an unusual practice and is not the recommended procedure, cassava can also be grown from seeds extracted from its fruits.

Cultivation

It is necessary to regularly remove invasive plants that compete with cassava for nutrients and resources, at least during the first five months of cultivation.

Pruning the plants decreases the production, so avoid any pruning, unless it is necessary to obtain manioc for planting at a time that does not correspond to the time of harvest.

Harvest

The cassava harvesting can take place from 6 months to 3 years (usually 12 to 18 months) after planting the plants, depending on the cultivar and the cultivation conditions.

The entire plant contains two cyanogenic glycosides, linamarin and lotoaustraline. When the plant is cut or damaged, an enzyme called linamarase breaks down these glycosides, releasing hydrogen cyanide (HCN), also called hydrocyanic acid or prussic acid, a very toxic substance. Thus, neither cassava nor its leaves and branches should be eaten raw. Soft cassava can be eaten boiled, fried or made into flour. Its leaves can be used in cooked or fried meals after the leaves are chopped and washed several times. Cassava must be used after careful preparation as flour and derivatives.

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