Elephant Foot Yam: Crop Of Commercial Value

By TheHindu on 20 Sep 2016 | read

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MORE YIELD: The variety is endowed with yield potential of 40-50 tonnes of tubers per hectare.


Well-drained, fertile, sandy loam soil is ideal for growing the crop

IN INDIA, the elephant foot yam, is traditionally cultivated in Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Gujarat, Maharashtra and Kerala States. It is also being cultivated in non-traditional areas such as West Bengal, Bihar, Jharkhand and Chattisgarh.Besides being used as a vegetable, the tubers can also be used for making pickles and flour. Scientists at the Central Tuber Crops Research Institute (CTCRI), Thiruvananthapuram under the All India Coordinated Research Project on tuber crops have developed an acrid-free variety of yam named Gajendra.The variety is endowed with yield potential of 40-50 tonnes of tubers per hectare. The crop is found to grow well in hot and humid climates. Well-drained, fertile, sandy loam soil is ideal for growing the crop.

Planting season

Under irrigated conditions, the crop is planted during mid-March (especially in Kerala) and harvested during October and under rain-fed conditions, the crop is planted during the last week of June in north India, according to Dr. R.S. Misra, Principal Scientist and Head, Division of Crop Protection. Cut tubers are used for planting. The tubers should be planted 90 x 90 cm apart in pits filled with decomposed cow dung manure and sandy loam soil. "Before planting it is advisable to treat the tubers with cow dung slurry mixed with trichoderma formulation followed by drying under shade," said Misra.Weeding and fertilizer applications have to be done twice, one week after the crops start sprouting leaves and again after a month of planting the tubers.A fertilizer dose of 80 kg of urea, 60 kg of phosphorus and 100 kg of potash should also be applied while planting the tubers.

Conserving moisture

"Mulching with organic waste or polyethylene sheets helps in reducing the weed growth and conserving soil moisture," Misra said. Depending on the moisture availability, irrigation should be given at regular intervals till the monsoon. Irrigation should be stopped 4-5 months after planting to allow the crop to mature. Care should be taken to prevent water stagnation. The crop matures in 6-7 months. Yellowing of the leaves indicates crop maturity. Banana, coconut and vegetable crops may be intercropped to generate additional revenue to the farmers. "The crop is susceptible to mosaic virus, collar rotand leaf blight infestations."Use of disease-free planting material, mulching with paddy straw and spraying 2 per cent mancozeb solution mixed with any systemic insecticide (5 per cent) diluted in one litre of water at 60 and 90 days after planting should done to protect the crop," Misra explained."In the case of soil borne infestations, application of neem cake into the soil before planting the tubers may be be effective in controlling soil borne diseases," he said. During harvest, care should be taken to avoid injury to the tubers. Tubers devoid of any physical damage are ideal for marketing.

Storage method

Fully mature, graded and cured tubers should only be used for storage as planting material. The storage place should be well ventilated and cool."The tubers should be stored in a single layer", said Misra. But if the storage place is insufficient, then they can be stored in two layers. "Avoid storing the tubers in a heap," he said. For more information on the variety readers can contact Dr. R.S.Misra at Central Tuber Crops Research Institute, Division of crop protection, Thiruvananthapuram 695017, phone: 0471-2598551, email: rajshekharmisra@gmail.com