Wondering how to grow yams? Embarking on the journey of growing your own yams can be a rewarding experience. Yams are a staple crop in many parts of the world and offer a myriad of health benefits. They’re a source of complex carbohydrates, fiber, and essential vitamins and minerals. Despite their tropical origins, with the right care and attention, yams can be grown in a variety of climates.
How To Grow Yams?
Growing yams starts with sourcing viable tubers or yam minisetts from a reputable supplier. The tubers should be cut into pieces with each containing at least one eye, and ideally should weigh around 200 grams. Let the cut tubers dry for a few days to allow a protective callus to form over the cut surface, which helps prevent rot.
Next, plant the tubers in well-prepared soil about 10-15 cm deep, with the eyes facing up. Space each tuber about 1 meter apart to allow for vine growth. It’s crucial to provide a sturdy trellis or stake for the yam vines to climb on, as they can reach up to 10 feet in height.
What Are The Different Types Of Yams That Can Be Grown?
There are several types of yams that can be grown, each with unique characteristics. The White Yam (Dioscorea rotundata) is popular in Africa, with a smooth skin and white or light-colored flesh. It has a slightly sweet flavor and is ideal for boiling, frying, or roasting.
Another variety is the Yellow Yam (Dioscorea cayenensis), which also originates from Africa. This yam has a rough skin and yellow flesh, with a high water content and a distinctly earthy flavor. There’s also the Water Yam (Dioscorea alata), known for its high yield and tolerance to diseases. It has a white to lavender flesh and is widely grown in the Pacific Islands and Asia.
Can Yams Be Grown From Seeds?
Yams are typically grown from tubers or minisetts, not from seeds. This is because yams are a type of perennial vine, and they reproduce and spread naturally through their tubers. The tubers are cut into pieces, each with an eye, and these pieces are planted to grow new yam plants.
However, it is technically possible to grow yams from seeds, although it’s much less common. The seeds are produced by the yam plant’s flowers, but the flowers don’t always appear and even when they do, they don’t always produce viable seeds. Therefore, it’s generally easier and more reliable to grow yams from tubers or minisetts.
What Is The Best Time To Plant Yams?
The best time to plant yams is in the early spring, just after the last expected frost. Yams require a long growing season of about six to nine months, so planting early allows them to mature before winter arrives. They also need warm soil to grow well, so planting in the spring allows them to take advantage of the warming soil.
In tropical regions where the temperature is fairly consistent throughout the year, yams can be planted at almost any time. However, it’s still best to plant them at the start of the rainy season, as they need a good amount of water to establish themselves and start growing.
What Are The Temperature Requirements For Growing Yams?
Yams are tropical plants, so they require warm temperatures to grow well. They thrive in temperatures between 25-30°C (77-86°F). They can tolerate temperatures slightly outside this range, but growth may be slower and the tubers may not develop as well.
Yams do not tolerate frost well. If a frost is expected, it’s important to protect the plants, as frost can kill them. In cooler climates, it may be necessary to grow yams in a greenhouse or other protected environment to maintain the necessary warmth.
What Type Of Soil Is Suitable For Growing Yams?
Yams prefer a well-draining soil rich in organic matter. A sandy loam or clay loam is ideal. The soil pH should be slightly acidic,
between 5.5 and 6.5, for optimal growth. Yams are heavy feeders, so the soil should be well-fertilized before planting, and regular feeding throughout the growing season can help promote vigorous growth and a good yield of tubers.
It’s important that the soil is loose and not compacted, as the yam tubers need room to expand and grow. If the soil is too hard, the tubers may become deformed. Adding organic matter like compost or well-rotted manure can help improve soil structure and provide necessary nutrients.
How Much Sunlight Do Yam Plants Need?
Yam plants require full sun to grow their best. This means they should receive at least six hours of direct sunlight each day. The more sunlight they receive, the more energy they can produce through photosynthesis, which promotes healthy growth and the development of large, healthy tubers.
While yam plants can tolerate some shade, too much can result in weak, leggy growth and smaller tubers. Therefore, when selecting a planting site for yams, choose a location where the plants will receive plenty of sunlight throughout the day.
What Are The Watering Needs For Growing Yams?
Yams need a consistent supply of water, especially during the early stages of growth when they are establishing their root systems. However, they don’t like to be waterlogged, so it’s important to ensure the soil drains well. Watering should be deep and infrequent, rather than shallow and frequent, to encourage the roots to grow deep into the soil.
During the dry season or in dry climates, yams may need to be watered regularly. Once the plants are established and growing well, they can tolerate some dryness, but they will produce the best tubers if they have a consistent supply of water. If the leaves start to wilt, this is a sign that the plants need more water.
Are There Any Pests Or Diseases That Affect Yam Plants?
Yes, yam plants can be affected by a variety of pests and diseases. Some common pests include nematodes, yam beetles, and cutworms. These pests can damage the tubers and affect the overall health of the plants. Regular monitoring and early intervention can help manage these pests and minimize damage.
Yam plants can also suffer from diseases like yam mosaic virus, anthracnose, and root rot. These diseases can reduce the yield and quality of the tubers, and in severe cases, they can kill the plants. Using healthy planting material, practicing good crop rotation, and maintaining good sanitation in the garden can help prevent these diseases.
How To Grow Yams: In Containers Or Pots
Yes, yams can be grown in containers or pots, although it’s a bit more challenging than growing them in the ground. The container needs to be large enough to accommodate the growth of the tubers, ideally at least 12-15 inches deep and wide. It’s also important to use a well-draining potting mix and to ensure the container has good drainage holes.
Yam plants grown in containers will need regular watering, as containers dry out more quickly than garden soil. They will also need regular feeding, as the nutrients in the potting mix will be used up more quickly. With proper care, yams grown in containers can produce a good yield of tubers.