Plantain suckers which are being used for plantain farming are separated from their mother plant with a spade or machete. Adequate care must be taken during the process because the sucker corm must not be damaged or chipped as their original roots are required to enable them germinate when planted.
Consequently the corm should be carefully peeled with a machete. The pseudo stem of the suckers should be cut off a few centimeters above the corm.
Peeling of the corm delays the development of nematode infestation, while cutting of the pseudo stem reduces bulkiness and improves early growth of the newly planted sucker.
The peeling process is just like that for cassava. A freshly peeled healthy corm ought to look white, but corms infected by stem borers and nematodes show brown and black spots which have to be removed until only white tissue remains.
If the infestation is severe, with many brown and black spots, the sucker should be destroyed.
Sucker preparation (peeling) is carried out in the field where the planting material is collected. This is to avoid contamination of the new field with roots infested with nematodes or corms with stem borers.
Prepared corms are transported to their destination where they are left to dry for a few days (not in the sun). Suckers have to be planted within two weeks.
Storage of suckers for more than 2 weeks will adversely affect future yields.
3 Steps to Rightly Plant Your Plantain Suckers for Maximum Yield
Here are the 3 steps to rightly plant your plantain suckers for maximum yield:
Have you ever wondered why some healthy, vigorously growing plantain suckers with a high yielding potential produce little fruits upon maturity?
Have you ever planted your suckers only to be hit with the disappearance of rain as soon as you plant your suckers, leading to low yields?
Many farmers experienced this too.
Having properly set up their plantain farms based on all the processes highlighted in previous series of this post, they found out that at maturity, some of the plantains has few hands (low yield) leading to poor sales and poor income for the farmer.
Some also discovered that some months, even weeks, after planting their suckers, the rains suddenly disappear and leave them to artificially supplying water to their growing suckers which is usually quite stressful and energy-sapping.
If you do not plant your suckers very close to their optimum time, with the right technique and put them in the right hole size, they would not give their best yield and that will mean low sales and low income to your pocket. You do not want that, right?
So how will you go about it?
(1) Time to Plant
Suckers are planted immediately after field preparation. Plantains can be planted throughout the rainy season. However, they should grow vigorously and without water stress during the first 3 to 4 months after planting. Therefore they should not be planted during the last months of the rainy season.
Planting with the first rains or last rains may be agronomically sound but financially disadvantageous. Most farmers will plant at the onset of the rains, causing the market to be flooded with bunches 9 to 12 months after planting, when prices will be very low.
Planting with the last rains will mean more stress for the farmer as he must artificially supply water to the plants so as to maintain the optimum soil moisture content and ensure good yield.
Hence, planting in the middle of the rainy season is a better proposition as plantains will then be produced off-season and get high prices.
(2) Hole Size to Plant In
Plant holes are prepared with a minimum size of about 30 cm x 30cm x 30 cm, which is about the length of a plastic ruler. Holes can be dug with a shovel. If you are planting for fruit production it should be spaced about 8 to 10 feet.
(3) Process for Planting
Care should be taken to separate the topsoil from bottom soil. The sucker is placed in the hole and its corm is covered, first with the topsoil and then with the bottom soil.
This is because the top soil is more fertile than the sub soil and the new sucker requires much nutrients. To supplement the fertility of the top soil, manure can be mixed with it before being placed in the hole.
In the plant hole, the side of the sucker corm which was formerly attached to the corm of its mother plant is placed against the wall of the hole. The opposite side of the sucker’ corm is placed towards the middle of the plant hole, where the soil is loose.
The best sucker (the future ratoon) will emerge at the side opposite to where the planted sucker was previously attached to the mother plant. If the land is sloping, the sucker should be so oriented that its follower will emerge against the slope. That will delay the development of the so-called high mat when the ratoon crop grows out of the soil and exposes the corm.
Read Also: Weed Management on Plantain Cultivation
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