Updated: Oct 2
Cassava is one of the staple crops extensively cultivated in Vietnam. Cassava is easy to grow and adapts well to various types of soil and ecological regions. Surprisingly, even in harsh weather conditions, whether it's scorching heat or heavy rain, cassava continues to thrive. However, for those looking to yield a bountiful harvest of large and colossal cassava roots, there are additional cultivation methods to consider. Let's explore with Agroviet to discover how to grow cassava with abundant roots, right now.
Ecological Characteristics of Cassava Plants in Vietnam.
Cassava has the ability to adapt and withstand challenging conditions, such as nutrient-poor soil, acidic soil, arid conditions, and soil with high aluminum and manganese content, conditions where many other crops struggle to grow and yield. The optimal conditions for cassava growth and development include moderate sunlight, good drainage, and a pH level between 4.5 and 7.5. Cassava is a crop well-suited to semi-arid conditions, requiring adequate soil moisture primarily during the initial planting phase, after which it can endure extended periods of drought. Cassava exhibits adaptability to highly acidic soil with a high aluminum exchange capacity, as well as low total phosphorus levels, but it demands a relatively high level of potassium (K), especially when cultivated over several years. Cassava is sensitive to zinc (Zn) deficiency, which often manifests during the early stages of growth.
Cassava is particularly intolerant to waterlogging, especially once its tuberous roots have formed. Therefore, proper seasonal scheduling and appropriate irrigation practices are crucial to ensure optimal growth and high yields, especially during the periods of plant and root development, where sufficient soil moisture is essential.
What month is cassava planted in Vietnam?
Cassava planting seasons vary by region in Vietnam:
Northern Vietnam (Red River Delta and Northern Midlands): Cassava is best planted from around February to March, with harvesting taking place from December to January of the following year.
North Central Vietnam: In the north-central region, including areas like Thanh Hóa and Nghe An, it is suitable to plant cassava in January. Harvesting typically occurs later in the year.
Central Vietnam (Central Coastal Region): Cassava can achieve its highest yields when planted from January to March or even as early as January to February. However, the harvesting season remains between September and October, before the rainy season.
Central Highlands, Southeast, and Mekong Delta: In these regions, cassava thrives when planted towards the end of the dry season, around April to May, when the weather stabilizes. In some parts of the Mekong Delta, cassava is actively cultivated from the beginning of the year to ensure a harvest before the flood season.
The timing of cassava planting and harvesting may vary within each region due to local conditions and preferences. For cassava intended for flour production, harvesting usually occurs from October to December, while sweet cassava for fresh consumption is typically harvested intermittently from June to September.
How long does cassava take to harvest?
The time for harvesting cassava varies depending on the different varieties of cassava. For instance, the KM94 cassava variety should be harvested after it has been planted for 7 to 11 months. On the other hand, the KM60 variety is best harvested after 6 to 8 months of planting. Harvesting cassava at the right time helps maintain the starch content in the tubers, which ranges from 27% to 30%.
In addition, farmers can also opt to harvest cassava when most of the upper leaves have fallen, and the leaves begin to turn from green to light yellow. After harvesting, it's crucial to transport the cassava to processing facilities promptly. Prolonged exposure to sunlight or leaving it in the field for more than 24 hours can reduce the starch content in cassava tubers.
Cassava Industry Challenges and Prospects in Vietnam
However, the development of cassava in Vietnam still faces numerous risks, leading to sustainability challenges. Specifically, cassava cultivation in many regions is not necessarily advantageous, resulting in uncertain yields and compromised quality. Additionally, the construction of processing plants without a direct link to the source of raw materials has led to imbalances in production and product consumption.
From another perspective, Mr. Nghiem Minh Tien, Deputy Chairman of the Vietnam Cassava Association, points out that despite being one of the 13 key crops, many regions have yet to determine the role of cassava in their economic development. Additionally, some areas still hold biases against cassava, believing that cultivating it depletes the soil, processing causes pollution, and it is environmentally unfriendly. Therefore, in planning and crop structure allocation, cassava is not given priority and is not emphasized for development.
With the goal of achieving an export turnover of USD 1.5 to 2 billion by 2030, Mr. Nghiem Minh Tien highlights the concerted efforts of the cassava industry and the relevant agencies under the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development in promoting the construction of a Restructuring Plan for the cassava sector to be submitted for government approval, covering the period from 2025 to 2030, with a vision towards 2050.
Deputy Minister - Mr Le Quoc Doanh emphasizes the need to change the perspective on cassava, no longer viewing it solely as a poverty-reduction crop but as a commodity. Additionally, there should be a concentrated effort in scientific research to develop standard, high-quality cassava varieties that are disease-resistant and high in starch content. Currently, six cassava varieties have undergone testing and been recognized, but the focus should shift to mass propagation to ensure accessibility and utilization of these new varieties by farmers. Consequently, the Plant Protection Department must propose an efficient propagation process to supply the market.
Regarding processing, Deputy Ministe - Mr Le Quoc Doanh suggests continued review and construction of processing plants that are integrated with the source of raw materials, ensuring supply-demand equilibrium, and technological innovation for diversified deep processing of cassava products. Additionally, there should be value chain linkages between businesses and localities to develop sustainable cassava production.
While there are challenges to address, including market diversification and sustainable production, Vietnam's cassava industry is poised for continued growth and success. The concerted efforts of the government, industry stakeholders, and local communities reflect a collective commitment to unlock the full potential of cassava, ensuring its role as a resilient and versatile crop that contributes to the nation's economic prosperity and food security. As Vietnam looks toward 2030 and beyond, the story of cassava's growth and development serves as a testament to the nation's ability to adapt, innovate, and thrive in the ever-evolving global agricultural landscape. Cassava, once a humble root, has become a symbol of resilience and progress in Vietnam's agricultural journey.