Sugar Cane (Saccharum Officinarum)

Sugar cane is a perennial grass, which under favorable conditions grows to a height of 2.5- 6m depending on the variety. It has a well developing fibrous roots found mainly in the top 25- 30 cm of the soil and which may spread outward to 2m. The stem, sometime known as canes or culms usually grows erect but are procumbent in some varieties.

Sugar cane is un-branched except for the tillers and consists of a series of nodes and internodes. The crop is mainly grown for sugar and this sugar may be extracted from the stems and used for sweetening a wide range of foods and drinks. It may also be used to making sweets, chocolates, spirits and sweetening livestock feeds. The crop requires a minimum annual rain fall of 1,500mm of which at least 70% should fall evenly during the growing period. Artificial irrigation is necessary when this amount of rainfall is not available, if maximum yields are to be realized.

Sugar cane grows on wide range of soils although it prefers heavy fertile and well drained soils. The PH required is not very critical as the crop may grow quite well in soils with PH of 4.2- 8.5. The growing season should be warm with mean day temperature of 28- 30 centigrade while temperature below 20 centigrade retards growth and those above 35 centigrade reduces photosynthetic rate.

Photorespiration increases with temperature can appear wilted irrespective of water supply when temperatures approaches 35 centigrade and growth is curtailed. Low temperatures are the effective means of ripening cane, counteracting adverse factors such as excessive moisture or nitrogen.

Land preparation and planting

Land preparation involves; clearing the bushes, removing stumps, building terraces or ridges to prevent soil erosion, grading slope grounds in preparation for irrigation by gravity, demolishing ant hills, ploughing and making furrows. Three eyed setts are planted in furrows at the depth of 20-30cm and 1.5m between the rows and cover with 2.5 7.5 cm of soil.

The planting material is obtained either from the harvested cane (the white tip) or from seed nurseries. The setts are planted in rows and they are placed end to end with a slight overlap. Double planting of poor tillering varieties can be well worth while with the yield benefits extending with ratoon crops. A seed bed density of 2,500-3,000 setts per ha or 6 to 7 tons of sugar cane per ha. Sugar cane can be planted almost any time of the year though it is best to avoid dry periods (December to February and July to August) to uplands as the plants are then delayed to germination and early growth.

Weeding

Weeding should be done soon after all the setts have germinated and this should be done 5 to 6 time for a better growth of the plant.

Manure and fertilizers

Plant is effective to sugar cane and it should be applied before the boom period (6 months). Filter mud is a useful by-product of the factory containing phosphorus and nitrogen so it is important to put it back to the field.

Fertilizers

Sugar cane responds well to fertilizer application and it has specific demands on phosphorus, nitrogen and potassium.

Maturity

The crop will mature at 15 to 24 moths depending on the varieties and season

Harvesting

The determination of the maturity of a field of cane is one of the most important aspects in managing the plantation. After the boom period of growth, some of the stems change from the vegetative to reproductive state and produce reproductive inflorescence called arrows or tassels. Appearance of the tassels at times can be deceptive as to the level of sucrose accumulated in the stems.

Where irrigation is practiced ripening is induced by withholding water several weeks prior to harvest. A more precise way of determining maturity is by using a hand refract meter which reads Brix number and for a mature cane the Brix should be 20%. Harvesting is done by hand using knives and specialized machetes and it is important that the field id cut clean as any short left in the stool gain advantage over those subsequently produced from the underground rhizomes, with  results that the following crop becomes very un-even

The number of ratoon that are economical to the harvest from the field before replanting depends on the characteristics of the individual fields, the variety of the cane and the method of cultivation used.

Pests

The following pest have been of concern in Uganda

Stem borer (sesamia vuleria.stoll). The attack commences near the apex of the short; the caterpillar boring in the softest tissue and then down the stem mainly in young canes. The infected plants have appearance of dead hearts within withered innermost terminal leaves.

Prevention

Prevent the pest by weeding in the garden regularly and treating the planting material in warm water. Control the pest by cutting of the dead hearts, and removal of borers successfully controls the outbreak. Allow atachinid fly in the as it is parasite on the caterpillar.

Eldana borer (Eldana saccharine)

Eldana borer causes serious damage in some parts of Africa to maize and sugar cane, the larva feeds on the outside of the stalk around the node after which it enters the stalk feeding the rest of its life inside the stalk.

Prevention is by clearing the papyrus around the garden as it is the alternative host and field hygiene. Control is by cultural methods, using hot water treating the seed cane.

Aphids (Rhopalatosiphum maidis fitch)

This is important because it is a victor of mosaic disease, and the danger caused directly by the insect is negligible. Prevention is by the garden free of weeds and all around the garden. Control by spraying a mixture of garlic and marigold leaves to repel the insects.

White scale

White scale insect stays on the nodes of the cane and sucks the juice reducing the quality of the juice and decreasing yield. The leave tend to dry and growth is suppressed and the plant may die altogether. Prevention is by weeding in the garden regularly and removal of the dry leaves of the cane. Control is by burning of the trash killing the larva and adults.

Termites

Termites cause serious damage to the crop during germination and maturity time. The insect cut down the growing plants causing death. Prevention is by destroying the ant hills around and in the field. Control is by applying Neem tree crushed leaves together with dry wood ash on the plant roots.

Diseases

Mosaic disease

The causal agent for this disease is the sugar cane mosaic virus (SCMV); the main symptoms are small irregular, elongated non-necrotic spots, yellowish green or dark green on a light background which appears on young leaves when in shade and causing plant stunting. It is transmitted by several aphids and through contaminated setts, and it causes a loss of tonnages and the extent of this loss depend on the varieties. Prevention is by avoiding the aphids in garden and keeping the garden free of weeds.

Red stripe disease

This disease appears mainly on young canes in the form of narrow continuous dark red to reddish brown stripes running longitudinally along the leaves from the base upwards, and the causal agent is the bacterium phytomonas rubrilineans. The tissue between the stripes is often pale green to yellow in colour and infected plants are easily sported in the field.

There are many other sugar cane diseases like smut, leaf spot disease, ratoon disease, root disease and top rot.

Pumpkin:The Miracle Plant

 Mary Nakirya

Pumpkins are one of the climbing plants similar to guards. They are eaten fresh  or dried.. Apart from the real fruit,the seeds and leaves are also eaten with very high nutritional values.

Farmers in Masaka claim that once seeds are eaten by a man, he will become sexually stronger.

They are rich in carotenoids which are well known for keeping human immune system strong and healthier.Because of the beta carotene content in the fruit,chances of strokes are also reduced. They also slow down the process of aging and eye problems which may result into blindness.

The high fibre content in them is good for bowel health yet the potassium reduces hypertension.

The zinc in them is good for bones and boosts the immune system.

The leaves contain iron,  phospherous and sulphur.

The cooling and cleansing property in the fruit reduces hunger over due to too much alcohol. Get leaves,boil and drink the soup. The effect is immediate.

To prepare pumpkin,cut and cook the well washed fruit.The seeds can be dried and fried or cooked while fresh and eaten. Some people get young fruits of pumpkin, cut into pieces and put them in the sun for drying. The pieces can then be cooked as soup or mixed in ground nuts .

Planting Garlic as a Pest Control In your Garden

Garlic is one of the strongest pest control methods in gardens. While using it, plant it around areas where pests are a problem Most insects are repelled by the smell.

However, even the beneficial insects may be repelled by the garlic. This means that care must be taken while planting it so as not to loose the beneficial insects.

To control moles, Use one whole or crushed garlic and place directly into their tunnels. The odor of garlic is very strong to their sensitive nose, and this will encourage them abandon the area. Garlic plants also work as a great deterrent So planting garlic as a companion plant is helpful to eliminate a mole or rats.

Using garlic water for plants can also work as a tonic that seeps into the soil and disrupts the harmful insects that usuallyhide  there. moles  will avoid digging in the dirt that has been treated with garlic water.

How to Make Tobacco Spray

LANDSCAPE AND AGRO-FORESTRY

Agro-forestry refers to practice of carrying on agriculture and forestry in the same place, while agriculture refers to all practices which are carried out to produce crops, livestock, and forestry refers to growing of trees. Agro-forestry may therefore involve

·         The growing of trees and crops in the same place

·         The raising of livestock and trees in the same place

These forms of aggro-forestry in which crops and trees are planted in the same place is known as ago-silviculture and the form where tree are grown in pasture is known as Silvia-pasture where the pasture is harvested and taken to live stock in a separate area.

Most farmer in Uganda depend on rain for growing than crops and pastures and poor exposed soils do not hold much water when it rains on such soils, most of the water runoff, and if the farmer planted the seeds, the little water left in the ground will help the seeds to germinate, and after a few sunny days, most of the water evaporates and the soils become very dry and the crops start to wilt and dry up.

By practicing agro forestry (agrosilvienlture) may improve the water holding capacity of the soil, failure to improve can, led to crops loss which will occur year after year. If the soil is able to hold water for a long time, the effect of drought may be less deratanting than other wise.

Trees provide shade for live stock but some trees are used as folder for live stock.

Environment conditions such as drought, floods, wind, hailstorms and others don’t affect individual farmers, but affect all farmers; it affects all farmers such environment problems should be tackled communally, and the only way of tackling these problems is by practicing agro forestry.

Land scape can be changed by use of agro forestry, and a community may be able to change its landscape and influence some environmental factors by concerted effort in trees planting. In this way farmers will be able to choose not only where they need trees and in what quantities but also, which varieties suit each place most.

Individual farmers can only make decisious affecting their own farms, but a community is able to discuss and implement ideas in the whole area. While a single farmer may have very little influence of landscape outside his farm, a community working together can transform it in only a generation.

By

Mulopi J

Crop Damage Caused by other Factors

tomato

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Field crops can be damaged or destroyed by non-parasitic factors in addition to pest and diseases which are known to most farmers. These non-parasitic factors include but are not limited to the following; burning, lightning strikes, drought, too much water or rain, extreme humidity, wind, shortage of light or soil exhaustion. The symptoms of all these non-parasitic factors are more similar to those caused by fungal or bacterial infection or nutrient deficiency. These damage crops in many ways:

Burning can be caused by sun or large burn fire, can also be caused by application of too high concentrations of chemical pesticides or leaking of ammonia onto to the leaves plants or trees can look weak or even die.
If they become exhausted due to over production of fruits. Also if they are transplanted at wrong hours and time, they may end up drying and sometimes even die. This is particularly dangerous in the dry periods when the plants have used all of their reserves to produce shoots and fruits.
Pruning at this time also cause irretrievable damage to the plants. Direct and intense sun exposure can also cause branch cankers and damage of the plants fruit and leaves.

Like on tomatoes hard green or yellow crust can develop on the ripe tomatoes and sweet pepper of the soil moisture fluctuate too much and this may cause leaf discoloration which lower the green pigments that help in manufacturing nutrient necessary for crop growth and health. Leaf discoloration may be also caused by shortage sun light in some plants.
Farmers need to be conscious of all these factors and try to prevent their occurance.

Written by Mulopi J and edited by Mary Nakirya
Celac mayuge district farmers net work.

How to Treat Mange in Goats And Sheep

By Mulopi Joseph

Mange is a major killer of goats especially in dry areas, but now can be treated easily with the castor oil and tamarind seeds. The cause of mange is small mites that burrow in the skin of the goat causing severe itching, loss of hair, scabby skin, emaciation and death.

It results in animals that are stressed and poor keepers. Wool and beef production, are also decreased.

goat with mange.jpg 2

 

A goat affected with Mange

 

 

 

 

Treat mange with crude castor seed oil (do not use refined oil) mixed with tamarind fruit solution 2kg of castor seeds in 20lt of water and 1kg of tamarind of tamarind solution in 10lt of water.
How to make a solution.

Roast the castor seeds on pan until they start popping up and turn dark, pound the seeds in motor or
Use a grinding stone. Put them in a cooking pot, add water to cover the pounded material and heat the
Mixture over fire until oil shows on the surface, remove the mixture from the fire and let it cool.

Then soak the tamarind frult in water, stir it to make a thick paste, remove the seeds and residues from the paste, and mix the castor oil with the tamarind paste. Use a hard brush to scrub the mixture out the

Animals body .Apply this once every week for 4 weeks.

Agro Forestry and its Uses

Although the word systems and practices are used synonymously in agro-forestry literature, a distinction can be drawn between them. Agro-forestry is a collective name for land use system and technologies in which woody perennials are deliberately used on the same land management units or agricultural crops and animals in some form of spatial arrangement or temporal sequence.

Home gardens are used loosely to mean several practices, such as growing vegetables behind the house. In agro-forestry terminology, home garden are mixed plantings where multipurpose trees and shrubs are grown in intimate association with annual and perennial crops / livestock’s under the management of family labor within the compound of individual house.

Food production is the primary function of most home gardens and it is almost continuous throughout the year. The intimate mixture of various agricultural crops and multipurpose trees meet the basic needs of the local population while the multistoried configuration and high species diversity of home gardens help reduce the environmental deterioration.

It is estimated that every year millions of acres of land fall out of production due to soil degradation, and the most prevalent of soil degradation are nutrient depletion and soil erosion. Soil degradation is a major problem particularly in our developing countries where effective erosion control measures and nutrient replenishment is seldom practiced.

In Mayuge for instance, many farmers cultivate on the same piece of land year in and year out without fallowing or applying manure / fertilizer, resulting in consistence decline of biological potential of the soil in form of reduced yields. Trees are known to improve and maintain soil fertility using agro-forestry as a low input system for famers.
For a soil to be fertile its physical, chemical and biological properties need to be conducive for the plant growth by improving on the physical, chemical and biological status of the soils….

In general,trees can enhance the performance of crops.

Post Harvet Handling

A farmer, Mukose Mudodi from Mayuge district planted 2 acres of maize. When ripe for harvest, he took his whole family of five to get the crop from the garden. That evening, and for the next three days, his wife sold the cobs either fresh or boiled at the market every evening. However, by the fourth day, the cobs were going bad already. He then decided to sun dry and mill them to get flour. Imagine the quality of flour that resulted? Also, imagine the degree of palatability to humans?

This is a common trend among farmers in Uganda. They are oblivious of the fact that as soon as a crop is removed from the ground, or separated from its parent plant, it begins to deteriorate; thereby calling for immediate post harvest handling.

In agriculture, postharvest handling is that stage of crop production immediately following harvest. It includes cooling, cleaning, sorting, processing and packing. Post-harvest treatment largely determines final quality, whether a crop is sold for fresh consumption, used as an ingredient in a processed food product or sold in a processed form. Post-harvest handling is one of the major determinants of the final quality. This is what farmers’ do not do often resulting in rot of their crops and/or price wars leading to lower prices as compared to cost of production.

Many farmers often do not take to this stage of farming because either they do not know how to or financial challenges crop in. Some of them are not even aware of the value added and especially in relation to cost. All Mukose Mudodi had to do was to sell his cobs fresh for the first day. After that, probably sun-dry them and obtain flour for sell. That way, he would be more in control of how much he sells his milled maize. In a milled form, he can store it till the bumper sells have decreased and the prices have gone higher.

Another issue of concern here is: does he have the money to mill it? Or the mill to do it himself? Does he have packaging materials? Poor post handling procedures for the maize crop for instance can lead to development of aflatoxins. These when consumed by humans can lead to stomach upsets and even death especially when taken in huge amounts.

To process or not to is a decision a farmer has to make even before planting the crop. That way, he/she will be more prepared and hence less losses

How to Use Banana Stems in an Inovative way

Mary Nakirya

Source of picture: Organic Farming

Banana stems are known to keep for a long period of time. Some farmers have gone ahead to utilize these stemas and plant short root crops within these stems. This is done by diging small holes in the stem with the help of a knife or panga,add a little soil, and plant as required. This allows plant growth even during dry periods without irrigation. This type of planting also helps to minimise space and resources. It is affordable since banana stems are readly available to farmers in almost all African Countries.

Due to their water retaining capacity,banana stems once rotten can be used as fertilizers. This works even in plantation crops.It is important to cut them into pieces before using as a fertilizer so as they do not act as a hiding place for insects.

crops in a banana stem

crops planted in banana stems