SOME CULTURAL PRACTICES IN CROP PRODUCTION
- The transfer of seedlings from nursery beds to their permanent positions in the field.
- The tools used for transplanting are handtrowel, digger, hoe or cutlass.
- Plant is removed with a ball of soil around its roots.
- Mostly done in cool weather, in morning or evening times.
- Transplants require shading to reduce wilting.
- Soil around roots at permanent site are firmed to eliminate air pockets for good root establishment.
- Watering is done morning and evening.
- Mulch after transplanting to reduce evapo-transpiration.
- Usually done at the early stages of development of the crop plant, long before maturity.
- Weak or diseased seedling should not be transplanted.
- Art of erecting cover above seedlings.
- Protects seedlings from harsh external environmental conditions e.g. sun and rain drops.
- Reduces evapo-transpiration.
- Shades are progressively removed until they are finally dispensed with.
- Materials used for shading include palm fronds, tall grasses and tarpaulins.
3) Supplying / filling-in
- The replacement of seeds that fail to germinate or seedling that dies.
- It is carried out to maintain desired plant population.
- Usually done by transplanting new seedlings or planting new seeds in the site for the ungerminated seed.
- It is usually manually done.
- Done within 2 weeks of 1st planting to obtain uniformity in growth (growth uniformity).
- Nursery can be practised in polypots, seed boxes and bed.
- Seeds which are smaller and delicate or plants which are delicate while young require pre-planting sites known as nurseries.
- Is meant to have seedlings become adjusted to the harsh environment.
- Nursery sites should have good top soil with good drainage.
- Seeds are mostly broadcast or drilled and lightly covered with soil.
- Watering is done with a fine rose watering can.
- All seed boxes, beds, drills must be properly labelled.
- Nurseries are usually shaded.
- Usually enclosed or fenced.
- Weeding, pest and disease control and application of fertilizer are usually practised in the nursery.
5) Seed rate: Seed rate refers to the quantity of seeds required to plant one hectare of land. Quantity of seeds used usually depends on spacing or plant population desired. (eg the seed rate of maize is 25 – 30 kg / hectare).
6) Thinning: Thinning is the removal of weak plants from a stand, to give rise to one or two vigorous crop plants. It is usually done by hand and practised when the crop plants are very young.
7) Weeding: This is the removal of unwanted plants which grow among cultivated crops. Weeding is done regularly on farmlands in order to prevent competition with crops for space, sunlight, nutrients, soil moisture, soil oxygen, etc. Weeding can be done manually by hoeing, cutlassing, etc or chemically with the use of specific herbicides, or mechanically with machine.
8) Mulching: Mulching is the covering of heaps or ridges with dry leaves to reduce soil temperature, conserve soil moisture and prevent rottening of some crop plants, e.g. yam setts.
8) Spacing: Spacing refers to the distance within and between crop plants in a farmland. This ensures greater yield of crops and prevents over – crowding and easy ventilation within and between rows of crop plants. For example, the spacing for maize could be 90 cm x 30 cm at one seed per hole or 75cm x 25cm at two seeds per hole.
9) Staking: Staking is the act of providing stakes or certain plant or wood to enable the crop plants stand erect and prevent lodging. Stems are tied or trained to the stakes. Staking allows for good fruiting and keeps fruits from disease attack arising from contact with soil. Staking is usually done before flowering. Examples of crop plants that require staking are tomato and yam.
10) Pruning: Pruning is the removal of lower branches of crop plant using sharp cutlass. Pruning encourages better canopy formation, more light penetration and improved air movement. Examples of crops that usually require pruning are cocoa, oil palm, rubber, orange, mango, etc.