Saturday, June 15, 2024
Crops

Propagation Of Cocoa Trees: Field Operations

The field operations involved in propagation of cocoa trees include but not limited to the following;

1. Field Planting of Seedlings

Cacao should be planted in virgin forest whose soil is deep, friable and fertile. The topography of the land should be gentle, flat or undulating. In plantation farming, the acquired land should be under brushed to reduce the shade and thus allow sunshine to reach the ground level.

The cleared land should be mapped out into blocks of manageable sizes. The blocks could be square or rectangular in shape varying between 6 and 10 hectares.

Using a spacing of 3.1m x 3.1m (10ft. by 10ft), the pegs should be laid in straight parallel lines within each block, the marked points should be dug into planting holes of 50cm x 50cm x 50cm (18-20 inches length, width and depth).

The topsoil should be kept separate as it will be used latter to fill the hole after the seedling has been planted into the hole. The dug up holes could be left for a couple of days before the seedlings are ready.

When the rains are steady, the potted seedlings are transplanted into the fields. The polythene bags which contain the seedlings should be removed before the seedlings are properly placed in the holes.

It is expected that adequate water should be made available within three days of transplanting; else the seedlings will experience water stress – a situation that should be avoided at all costs.

After successful transplanting, the other management operations include: weeding, pests and disease control and of course, shade management.

Ring- weeding is recommended for the first year of transplanting at intervals of 6-8weeks. To keep the whole farm clean, slashing should be done at interval of 12-15 weeks.

Pests at this stage include termites and caterpillars. Insecticide dusts should be applied as necessary either as ring applications or sprays. Shade should be progressively reduced to allow for the healthy growth of the cacao.

In subsistent cocoa farming (the majority of cocoa farm development strategy of small holders, the cocoa is not sown as a sole crop. Instead, it is sown as an inter-crop with other crops.

Since the other crops are usually annuals, land clearing and land preparation methods are usually different. Similarly, weeding, pests, disease and shade management strategies are different for the first three years.

Provision of shade becomes crucial as most of the shade trees would have been felled at the initial stage. Bananas and plantains are usually provided as they serve the purpose of alternative income to the farmer.

Growing banana and other crops in conjunction with the cocoa for shade. It is advisable to provide shade trees for growing cocoa trees. Banana is the best choice. The cocoa tree will make optimum use of any light available and has been traditionally grown under shade.

Its natural environment is the Amazonian forest, which provides natural shade trees. Shading is indispensable in a cocoa tree’s early years to ensure the right form of growth.

Read Also : Propagation Of Cocoa Trees: Nursery Operations

Young cocoa tree on a plantation being sheltered from the wind and elements by “mother trees”.

The lack of shade trees can result in cocoa trees being more susceptible to attacks from sap sucking insects or capsids (also known as mirids).

Cocoa Trees

Cocoa trees grown under thin forest cover usually require less pruning than cocoa trees grown without shade.

Bananas can provide shade for young trees, though this shade does not usually continue into maturity due to the short life span of the banana. Growing bananas also provides the farmer with another cash crop. Another tree often used for intercropping is coconut.

Shade can also be provided by thinning the forest or by planting trees, such as Leucaena leucocephala and Gliricidia sepium, to provide permanent shade. Some shade trees are leguminous and therefore return nitrogen to the soil.

2. Weeding

Since cocoa farming is practiced in deep forests, most of the weeds are undergrowth herbaceous plants. Stubborn perennial weeds are rarely experienced.

The first year of transplanting, ring-weeding is recommended at intervals of 6-8 weeks, while the entire plantation should be slashed every 12-15weeks.

The frequency of weeding should reduce the second year. As from the third year, emphases should be placed on the plantation brushing and shade reduction.

When cacao plantation is fully developed, the trees form enough canopies to reduce weeds incidence to the barest minimum. Using of slashers and weedicides or herbicides as needed are encouraged at this period.

Read Also : How To Reduce Waste At Home Properly

Agric4Profits

Benadine Nonye is an agricultural consultant and a writer with over 12 years of professional experience in the agriculture industry. - National Diploma in Agricultural Technology - Bachelor's Degree in Agricultural Science - Master's Degree in Science Education - PhD Student in Agricultural Economics and Environmental Policy... Visit My Websites On: 1. Agric4Profits.com - Your Comprehensive Practical Agricultural Knowledge and Farmer’s Guide Website! 2. WealthinWastes.com - For Effective Environmental Management through Proper Waste Management and Recycling Practices! Join Me On: Twitter: @benadinenonye - Instagram: benadinenonye - LinkedIn: benadinenonye - YouTube: Agric4Profits TV and WealthInWastes TV - Pinterest: BenadineNonye4u - Facebook: BenadineNonye

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