Cassava is a perennial shrub, which sometimes reaches the size of a small tree. It stems vary in color from pale to dirty white to brown marked by numerous nodes formed by scars left by fallen leaves. Pale to dark-green leaves are fan-shaped, with 5 to 9 lobes.
Roots of cassava plants are few and shallow and some become storage roots. These are clustered around the base of the plant and extend about 60 cm on all sides. It is for these roots, which contain from 15%-40% starch, that the crop is cultivated
Under favorable conditions, a single root may weigh as much as 4 kg. The number of roots per plant at harvest varies from 2 to 7 each averaging 27.7 cm.-43.3 cm. long and 4.5 cm.-7.4 cm in diameter.
Varieties and Uses of Cassava
Plant only high yielding varieties and according to needs. For starch, VC-1, VC-2, VC-3, Datu, Lakan, or Golden Yellow can be used. For food or feeds, use only Lakan or Golden Yellow varieties.
Cassava is a tropical and subtropical plant It grows in regions with more or Jess evenly distributed rainfall throughout the year. An ambient temperature ranges from 25-30 °C.
Select an open field with sandy loam or clay loam soli, Be sure that the area is not prone to water-logging. It must be well-drained soil. Also, consider the soil fertility with pH range of 5.5-6.5.
Cassava thrives at 845 m above sea level. It grows best when planted at the start of the rainy season.
Prepare field by plowing two to three times, followed by narrowing when there is enough soil moisture. Make ridges 15-20 cm high and with 75-100 cm distance between furrows.
Preparation of Planting Materials
Select only fresh, mature, or healthy stems: fresh if the latex or sap comes out within six seconds after cutting; mature if the diameter of the pith or cork is not more than half of the diameter of the cortex; healthy if it is pest free and the diameter of the stem is not less than 1.5 cm.
Obtain stalks from a healthy stand, which is at least eight months old. Classify other varieties that are mixed with the recommended varieties. Use a saw or sharp boto to separate cuttings 20-30 cm. long.
Keep the stalks for not more than five days, under shade in upright position. Handle carefully. Do not throw the cuttings to avoid damage to the nodes. Do not use cuttings stored for more than five days.
Plant cuttings in furrows one meter apart, each cutting set at 0.75-1 m. apart between ridges and 0.50-0.75 m between hills. Replant missing hills two weeks after planting. Weed the cassava plant within two months after planting. Plant in a slanting position at an angle of 45° when the soil is fairly dry, and in vertical position when planting is done during the wet season. At least 15 cm of the cutting should be buried or covered with soil.
Analyze the soil prior to planting to determine the amount and kind of fertilizer needed. The general recommendation for soils which have not been analyzed is eight sacks of complete (14-14-14) fertilizer per hectare. Apply fertilizer 2-6 weeks after planting at 5-10 cm depth and 15-20 cm away from the plant. The use of compost or organic fertilizer is highly recommended.
Weeding and Cultivation
At least 80% of failed croppings of cassava is due to inadequate weeding. Cultivate when weeds begin to grow. Weed the cassava plant within two months after planting. If possible, do off-barring and spot weeding 3-4 weeks after planting to effectively control weeds.
Weed the plant 4-5 weeks after planting. Hill up ridges 7-8 weeks after planting followed by spot weeding.
There is no serious pest that attacks the cassava plant The use of chemicals is not practical, or economical. To avoid the attack of pests, apply crop rotation or burn all the infested or infected plants.
Cassava is a highly perishable crop. It starts to* deteriorate as early as 1-3 days after harvest. Harvest cassava at the right time and in the proper way. To prolong its shelf-life, store it property.
Harvest cassava at full maturity or 6-7 months after planting. Harvesting too early results to low yield and poor eating quality. On the other hand, leaving the roots too long in the soil exposes them to pests. It also ties the land unnecessarily to one crop. Do not harvest cassava right after a heavy rain or when the soil is too wet. At this time, the roots have high water content, which makes them difficult to store. Also, wet soil particles would stick easily to the roots, specially if the soil is clayey, thus, making the roots hard to clean.
Harvest cassava during relatively dry weather so that soil particles from the roots can easily be removed.
Estimated Investment Cost*
A. Cash Cost
- Seeds/planting materials – P95.00
- Fertilizer – 1,529.00
- Hired Labor – 2,858.00
- Land Tax – 27.00
- Rentals (land, machine, tools, equipment) – 397.00
- Transport of inputs – 38.00
- Interest on crop loan – 661.00
- Food expenses – 239.00
- Repairs – 180.00
- Subtotal – P6,024.00
B. Non-Cash Cost
- Seeds/Planting materials – P779.00
- Hired Labor (paid in kind) – 51.00
- Landlord’s share – 79.00
- Harvester’s share – 34.00
- Lease Rental – 170.00
- Subtotal – P1,113.00
C. Imputed Cost
- Operator and family labor – P6,645.00
- Exchange labor – 508.00
- Depreciation – 307.00
- Interest on operating capital – 717.00
- Rental value of owned land – 302.00
- Subtotal – P8,479.00
* Source: Bureau of Agricultural Research, 2007
Estimated Total Production Costs (A+B+C) – P15,616.00
- Gross return (8,926.00 x 4.70) – 41,952.20
- Returns above cash costs (41,952.20 – 6,024.00) – 35,928.20
- Returns above cash and non-cash costs (41,952.20 – 6,024.00 – 113) – 34,815.00
- Net return (41,952.20 – 15.616.00) – 26,336.20
- Cost per kilogram – P1.75
- Average yield per hectare (kg) – 8,926.00
- Farmgate price (peso/kg) – 4.70
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