Cultivation of Elephant yam: Complete guide on Elephant yam plant farming involves in seed treatment, planting, pest management, irrigation, harvesting and uses.
Scientific name of Elephant yam (Amorphophallus companulatus Blume) Araceae:
Amorphophallus paeoniifolius, the elephant foot yam or whitespot giant arum or stink lily, is a tropical tuber crop grown primarily in Africa, South Asia, Southeast Asia and the tropical Pacific islands. Because of its production potential and popularity as a vegetable in various cuisines, it can be raised as a cash crop.Elephant foot yam is of Southeast Asian origin. It grows in its wild form in Sri Lanka, the Philippines, Malaysia, Indonesia, and other Southeast Asian countries.
In India this species as a crop is grown mostly in Bihar, West Bengal, Kerala, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, Maharashtra and Orissa. In Hindi belt of India it is popularly known as “oal” (ol (ওল) in Bengali, suran or jimikand in Hindi, senai kizhangu in Tamil, suvarna gedde in Kannada, chena (ചേന) in Malayalam, oluo in Oriya, kanda gadda in Telugu and kaene in Tulu).
In Bihar it is used in oal curry, oal bharta or chokha, pickles and chutney. Oal chutney is also called “barabar chutney” as it has mango, ginger and oal in equal quantities, hence the name barabar (meaning “in equal amount”).
In West Bengal, these yams are eaten fried or in yam curry. The plant body of elephant foot yam is also eaten in West Bengal as a green vegetable called Bengali: “ol shaak”.
In Tonga, where it is known as teve, it is viewed as the most inferior of all yam species, and is only eaten if nothing else is available.
The elephant-foot yam is widely used in Indian medicine and is recommended as a remedy in all three of the major Indian medcinal systems: Ayurveda, Siddha and Unani. The corm is prescribed for bronchitis, asthma, abdominal pain, emesis, dysentery, enlargement of spleen, piles, elephantiasis, diseases due to vitiated blood, and rheumatic swellings. Pharmacological studies have shown a variety of effects, specifically antiprotease activity, analgesic activity, and cytotoxic activity. In addition it has been found to be a potentiator for further reducing bacteria activity when used with antibiotics.
Along with other therapeutic applications, the Ayurvedic Pharmacopoeia of India indicates the use of corm in prostatic hyperplasia. The corm contains an active diastatic enzyme amylase, betulinic acid, tricontane, lupeol, stigmasterol, betasitosterol and its palmitate and glucose, galactose, rhamnose and xylose.
Gajendra and Sree Padma are the popular cultivars.
A rich red-loamy soil with a pH range of 5.5-7.0 is preferred. It is a tropical and subtropical crop. It requires well distributed rainfall with humid and warm weather during vegetative phase and cool and dry weather during the corm development period.
Season and planting:
It undergoes a dormancy period of 45 to 60 days. Traditionally farmers take advantage of the dormancy period by planting during February-March so that the setts would sprout with the pre-monsoon showers. April – May is the planting season. The tuber is cut into 750-1000g small bits in such a way that each bit has atleast a small portion of the ring around each bud. Whole corms of 500 g size can also be used as a planting material. Use of cormels and minisett transplants of 100 g size as planting material at a closer spacing of 45 x 30 cm is also suggested. There are also projections with tender buds called “Arumbu”. These are removed before planting as they do not give vigorous growth. An ordinary sized yam gives about 6 to 8 bits for planting. The cut pieces are dipped in cow dung solution to prevent evaporation of moisture from cut surface. In some places, the small round daughter corms are also planted. The cut pieces are planted in beds at 45 cm x 90 cm spacing or pit of 60 x 60 x 45 cm size is dug and planted. The pit should be filled with top soil and farm yard manure (2kg/pit) prior to planting. The pieces are planted in such a way that the sprouting region (the ring) is kept above the soil. About 3500 kg of corms will be required to plant one hectare. Sprouting takes place in about a month.
Preparation of field:
The land is brought to fine tilth and form beds of convenient size.
The cut pieces are planted in beds at 45 cm x 90 cm spacing. The pieces are planted in such a way that the sprouting region (the ring) is kept above the soil. Sprouting takes place in about a month.
Vegetable cowpea var. CO 2 is recommended as suitable intercrop in elephant foot yam. It can be intercropped profitably in coconut, arecanut, rubber, banana and robusta coffee plantations at a spacing of 90 x 90 cm. Half quantity of FYM (12.5 t/ha) and one third of NPK (27:20:33) will be sufficient for the intercrop.
It is mostly raised as a rainfed crop. However, irrigation is required when monsoon fails, where it is grown on a large scale. Water stagnation is harmful to the crop. Wherever irrigation facility is available, irrigation can be given once a week.
Application of fertilizers:
Apply 25 tonnes of FYM/ha during last ploughing. The recommended dose of NPK/ha is 80:60:100 kg. Apply 40:60:50 kg NPK/ha at 45 days after planting along with weeding and intercultural operations. Top dress with 40:50 N and K one month later along with shallow intercultural operations.
Weeding and earthing up as and when necessary.
Leaf spot disease can be controlled by spraying Mancozeb at 2 g/lit.
The disease is caused by a soil borne fungus Schlerotium rolfsii. Water logging, poor drainage and mechanical injury at collar region favour the disease incidence. Brownish lesions first occur on collar regions, which spreads to the entire pseudostem and cause complete yellowing of the plant. In severe case, the plant collapses leading to complete crop loss.
Use disease free planting material, remove infected plant materials, improve drainage conditions, incorporate organic amendments like neem cake, drench the soil with carbenilazim or apply biocontrol agents like Trichoderma harzianumI @ 2.5 kg/ha mixed with 50kg of FYM (lg/l of water).
Harvesting is done on 8 months after planting and particularly during January – February months. Drying of stem and leaves indicates the harvesting stage in elephant yam.
The crop can yield about 30 – 35 t/ha in 240 days.
For seed purpose, the yams can be left in the field itself till planting the next crop or the lifted yams can be stored in sand or paddy straw.
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