Cathy Isom continues her series on yams by reviewing some common problems and solutions when growing yams. That’s coming up on This Land of Ours.
Some common problems when growing yams include: Yam Mosaic Disease. This causes lesions on the leaves in a mosaic pattern. The plant withers and looks weak. It can cause stunted growth in the tubers, and they’ll have little starch content. The best cure is prevention. Use slips resistant to this disease and ensure the area is weed-free during growth. Aphids spread this virus, so keep them under control. Otherwise, you can lose up to 50 percent of your yam harvest. Another problem is dry rot disease. This disease is caused by a nematode. When dry rot is present, the tubers have small lesions on the outside of the skin. As the disease progresses, the lesion deepens into the tuber causing cracking and rotting.
Use slips and tubers that are disease-free, rub tubers with wood ash prior to planting or practice good crop rotation. Try growing yams where you last grew chili peppers to help control dry rot.
Mealy bugs love yams and can be destructive. They suck the sap and moisture from the plant and excrete honeydew, which will attract ants and diseases like sooty mold. Use neem oil at the first sign of the bug. You can also spray plants daily for a few weeks with diluted rubbing alcohol. White scales appear on the tubers and often cause slow growth or even shriveling of the tubers.
Use a good quality neem oil or organic pyrethrum, as this is spread by insects.
Cathy continues her series on tomorrow by giving you some tips for when it is time for harvesting yams.
I’m Cathy Isom…