Sunday, November 18, 2012


CASSAVA (Manihot esculenta) are a popular short term crop grown in ASEAN Country especially in Thailand and Indonesia as for fresh food or processed product. This article I would like to share my knowledge about cassava fertilization and harvesting technology for our additional knowledge. There are 2,400 hectare of cassava growing area recorded in Malaysia 2011 producing about 40,000 metric tonnes. State of Johore has the largest tapioca growing area for about 875 hectare in Malaysia and produced 19,506 metric tonnes (83% of Malaysia production) in 2005. Other states growing tapioca are Selangor (173 ha), Perak (89 ha) and Kelantan (23 ha). District Johor Bahru, Kota Tinggi and Kluang was the concentrated area planted with tapioca in Johore. There are 6 tapioca processing factory in Johore to cater the tapioca induatry in Malaysia.


The application of chemical fertilizers can definitely to increase tapioca yield. It is convenient to use, but costly. Generally, the recommended compound fertilizer grades are NPK 15-15-15 and NPK 13-13-21 because they are largely available in the market. The optimal rate of application is 300-600 kg per hectare and my advise ia to apply all at one time. For tapioca planted early in the rainy season, the fertilizers can be applied right after the first weeding at about 1-2 months of planting. For tapioca planted toward the end of the rainy season, fertilizer application can take place about 2-3 months after planting. Further delay may result in slower growth. The suitable time of application is a few days after the rain. In order to avoid fertilizer loss, the farmers should dig a hole about 20-30 cm from the plant, then put in the fertilizers and cover it with the back fill . Some farmers use a hand tractor with plough on the field along the tapioca rows for first weeding, and then spread the fertilizers. This saves labor cost. The chemical fertilizer can be more effective, if farmers use it together with organic fertilizers such as compost and cattle manure in proper proportion.


Tapioca should be harvested at the age of 11-12 months. This enables annual planting every year. Extension of the harvesting time to over a year will increase the yield, but the increase will largely depend on the amount of rainfall. The starch content is likely to fall, as the crop will burgeon more leaves and much of the nutrients will be trans-located from the roots to leaves instead. Harvesting should be done in summer time, when the starch content is high.

Harvesting activity in summer is more convenient than in the rainy season in Malaysia particularly in transporting the produce to the tapioca traders and in preparing for the coming planting season. It is recommended that the farmers carry out a field test to assess the yield and starch content by randomly selecting one or two plots of the size 10-15 square meter, avoiding the best part of the land. After weighing the roots and converting to per unit land basis, the farmers should take a sample of 6-7 kg to the traders for testing of the starch content. Then the price of the tapioca can be calculated per kilogram. This will determine how much income per hectare can be derived from the sale of tapioca. If it is not worth harvesting, then the farmers may defer the harvesting time until the price improves. However, if the harvest is prolonged, weeding may then be needed. This article is a guidance for tapioca growers in Malaysia for commercial production.

M Anem
Ladang Ubi,
Kota Tinggi,
Johor, Malaysia.

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