Response of plantain to mulch on a tropical Ultisol.
Part III. Effect of different mulching materials on crop growth and yield
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Department of Geography, University of Port Harcourt, P.M.B. 5323, Port Harcourt, Nigeria
College of Agriculture and Veterinary Medicine, Imo State University, P.M.B 2000, Okigwe, Nigeria
IIIT A, High Rainfall Substation, Onne, Port Harcourt, Nigeria
Publication date: 2020-09-25
Int. Agrophys. 1992, 6(3-4)
The effects of five different mulches (elephant grass, plastic, elephant grass on plastic, plastic on elephant grass and wood shavings, on growth and yield of plantain (Musa sp. AAB) were compared with unmulched plot of an Ultisol in the humid region of southeastern Nigeria. Surface mulch in general increased the height and girth of stem, rate of sucker and leaf production, total leaf area, growth and yield of both plant and ratoon crops. Plant height at 5 months after planting (MAP) was 207.6, 206.2, 185.6, 160.0, 150.2 and 138.4 cm for elephant grass, elephant grass on plastic, plastic on elephant grass, wood shavings, ,plastic and unmulched control, respectively. Leaf area measured at the same time was of the order: elephant grass on plastic > plastic on elephant grass > elephant grass > plastic > wood shavings > control. Total number of suckers at 8 MAP was highest under elephant grass on plastic and least under the control. Flowering of the crop plant was reduced by 16, 41, 35, 19 and 14 days in plots with elephant grass, plastic, elephant grass on plastic, plastic on elephant grass and wood shavings, respectively in relation with the unmulched treatment. Although mulching significantly improved bunch yields of both plant and ratoon crops, yield of first ratoon was, on the average, about 57% lower than that of the plant crop. Significant (P = 0.05, r = 0.77) correlation between total bunch yield (t ha–1) and soil exchangeable K (meq/100 g) measured at 6, 18 and 24 MAP was found. Similarly, plant height (cm) and leaf area (m2) were also significantly correlated with exchangeable K measured at 6 MAP (P = 0.01, r = 0.97) and (P = 0.05, r = 0.75), respectively. The results emphasise the beneficial effects of mulching on growth and yield of plantain. However, none of the mulch treatments used in this study was able to prevent yield decline between the plant and ratoon crops.