Plantain cultivation is one of the fast growing agribusiness in vogue. Plantain is one of the staple and common foods in the world. It can be dished into different delicacy according to individual tribe, preference and culture. Plantain is a rich source of nutrients and vitamins; this has created an unsaturated market for plantain. Plantain farmers are often facing challenges of pest and diseases invasion. This has led to the reduction in the yield of plantain in today’s plantain cultivation sector, hence, sourcing for methods of treating the suckers before planting.
Several factors are responsible for the reduction in the yield of a plantain farm; pest and diseases play a major role in this failed production. Plantain is commonly planted using its vegetative part known as suckers; they erupt from the base of the mother plant. A healthy sucker produces healthy fruit and conversely makes the cultivation a profitable one; in contrary, a diseased or infected sucker will produce poorly and led to high economic loss. Therefore, for a farmer to make huge profit from plantain cultivation, the farmer has to find a means of treating the suckers before planting.
The plantain or banana sucker is a young shoot that develops from rhizome and sprouts up just below the mother plant. It is a vegetative part used as planting material to cultivate plantain or banana. It is highly susceptible to pests and diseases present within the soil where it sprouts. Nematodes and stem borers are the two virulent pests of plantain and banana; they attack the sucker at the root zone. Nematodes distort the transfer of nutrient and water from the root to the plantain stem; while stem borers feed on the corms and create a tunnel within the stem, hence, making the plant less vigorous. This is how deleterious these pests can be on any infested plantain or banana field.
Apparently, the best method of treating plantain suckers is obscure. Most farmers treat suckers with pesticides. This is quite effective but expensive and dangerous to human health. Now, there are organic methods of treating plantain suckers before planting; these methods have been found very effective and greatly increase the yield of the plantain field.
Proper sanitation of the suckers can get rid of these pests and make the plantain grows healthily. Sucker preparation is an effective pre-planting activity used for preventing and delaying the development of nematodes and other pests and diseases in the plantain field. The good news is, this can be done organically with the use natural and readily available materials. Plantain suckers can be treated cheaply, without the use of chemical, using these methods:
- Boiling water treatment.
- Red Acalypha leaf extract.
I can feel your curiosity. Read up:
According to a study carried out at the Teaching and Research farm of Ekiti State University, Ado-Ekiti in Nigeria in the quest to proffer a cheap and sustainable method of treating plantain suckers for farmers, these two methods have been found very effective than the use of pesticides. These methods alongside a chemical pesticide, called Furadan were used to treat plantain suckers before planting. These methods performed outstandingly well bringing about good yield at the end of the experiment.
Treatment of plantain sucker with boiling water is a cheap way of treating suckers. It is very simple, less time-consuming and the most effective.
To use this method:
Dip the root of the sucker in boiling water for just 30 seconds. Remove from the boiling water after 30 seconds and allow to access fresh air for 1 hour before planting. In an experiment carried out in Cameroun, the suckers were dipped for 0, 10, 20, 30, 40, 50 seconds before planting. During the period of drought, only the ones treated in boiling water for 30 seconds survived. Therefore, 30 seconds is recommended for good result.
Alternatively, Red Acalypha leaf extract can be used to treat suckers. Red Acalypha is a common hedging plant in West Africa. The extract of this plant has antibacterial, antifungal and antimicrobial properties.
To treat your plantain sucker with Red Acalypha leaf extract:
Soak 90grams of the leaves in 10 liters of water for 20 minutes. Dip the sucker for 20 minute. After 20 minutes, remove from the extract and allow to dry for 10 minutes before planting.
These methods were recommended by the University at the end of the experiment. Any of these two sucker treatment methods can be adopted to treat plantain suckers or any other planting material. They are safe to use; they make the plant more vigorous, hence, increasing the yield and profit conversely.