Dioscorea species (yams) are food security crops that sustain many livelihoods in the tropics and subtropics especially in West Africa, where large commercial scale production is practiced.
Staking is a method of elevating creeping vines above ground level by means of supporting structures.
Yams are staked before vines start crawling on the ground. The recommended stake length is one to two meters and a stake to every plant.
There are various methods of staking, three of the more popular ones are as follows:
This stake setup is not very stable and requires more materials to support the stakes (posts and tie wire). However, weeding and hilling up operations using animal-drawn implements can be done easily under this setup.
MODIFIED TRELLIS METHOD
With this method, ground spaces under the stake arch need not be weeded as the foliage becomes dense. Also, stakes formed in this manner provide stable support. However, weeding and hilling up operations that utilize animal-drawn implements cannot be done under the arches.
This type of staking is when more than one sticks or poles are put together to elevate the yams above the ground. The poles are staked in a group of three, therefore, the pattern of the staking is seen as tripod or pyramid.
In addition, it requires fewer, though sturdier, materials for stake construction and requires a lesser amount of labour to construct.
On the other hand, it has an additional disadvantage because yams grown under this method usually yield lower than those grown under the modified trellis method.
Staking is essentially important in a crop husbandry for many agronomic reasons, which includes the following:
- To allow for maximum sunlight interception for plant photosynthesis, thus to obtain high yielding tubers.
- To reduce the spread of soil-borne diseases from attacking the growing plants’ parts.
- To free soil surface from thorny vines, especially for thorny yam species like D. esculenta. Staking of yam is done just before the buried tuber sprouts from the growing.
- Protect yam from physical damage.
- Enhance opportunities for pest management.
- Increase the effectiveness of weed management.