CHOICE OF LAND
Choose well-drained, deep, loamy soils. Where such is not available sandy and clayey soils can be managed intensively for cassava production. However, very sandy and clayey soils should be avoided.
The texture and water table of the soil will guide you in your choice of land preparation method. Planting on the flat is recommended when the soil is deep and well drained as in sandy loam soils. Shallow and clayey soils should be tilled and ridged. Soils prone to water-logging require ridges or mounds. Planting on ridges or mounds is a general practice in the rain forest and derived savanna zones in Nigeria.
CHOOSING A VARIETY
Carefully select varieties with multiple pest and disease resistance, high and stable root yields and acceptable quality characteristics that meet end users’ requirements for food (gari, fufu, fermented flour etc) and industrial raw material (starch, chips, pellets, unfermented flour etc). The major Growing Cassava in Nigeria.
Several improved varieties of cassava have been recommended and released in Nigeria. The most commonly grown of these are TMS 30572, 4(2)1425, 92/0326 and NR 8082. More recently 42 new improved genotypes have been made available to farmers in the South-south and South-east for participatory selection so that they can identify specific best-bet varieties for each of the cassava growing communities. For now, you could choose any of the commonly grown improved varieties for planting since they are stable across environments. However, you will also need to select the variety with the highest performance in your farm site and environs.
ACQUISITION OF PLANTING MATERIALS
Stems of improved varieties can be obtained from National Seed Service (NSS), state offices of Agricultural Development Programs (ADP), the Cassava Growers Association (CGA) and several out-growers who produce quality stems for sale. Stems are usually tied in bundles each having 50 stems that are 1metre long. Fifty of such bundles are needed to plant 1 hectare of land.
Keep bundles of stems stacked vertically on the soil under a shade. The distal end of the stem should touch the soil. Moisten the soil regularly and keep the surrounding weed free. This way you can store your stems for more than 3 months. Under low relative humidity and heat stress store your stems in pits under shade.
Cassava stakes (cuttings) for planting should be taken from plants 8 – 18 months old. Stakes taken from older plants are lignified and they perform poorly due to delayed sprouting and rooting. A mature cassava stem has 3 sections – hardwood, semi-hardwood and shoot-tip. The hard and semi-hardwood sections are the best for planting. Shoot tips are very fragile and have high mortality rate especially if they are subjected to moisture stress during the first month after planting. If you must source planting materials from an old field (over 18 months) the semi-hardwood section gives the best quality.