yam tubers

Yam Tubers, Production, Cultivation and Uses

Yam, Tubers Production and Uses

Yam refers to a member of the family of Di oscorea ceae which is a staple food, ceremonial crop, and cash/export crop for Nigerians. The family is made up of 6 genera with over 600 species of which few are edible.


yam tubers


The species commonly grown in Nigeria are

–              Dioscorea rotundata (white yam)


–              Dioscorea cayenensis (Yellow yam)


–              Chinese yam)


–              Diocorea bulbifera(Aerial yam)



It is a monocotyledonous, predominantly dioecious and herbaceous climbing crop grown in the wet to fairly high rainfall areas with a dry season of not more than 4 to 5 months in Nigeria.


Flowering is neither regular nor consistent in the crop. For instance, flowering does not occur in D.esculente, and D.bulfibera is completely staminate. In some cases, there is no flowering at all.


The Nigerian yam belts stretch from the humid rainforest in the south to the northern Guinea savannah of Nigeria.


About 42% of yams produced in Nigeria are produced in southern Nigeria. While a larger percentage of it is produced in the middle belt or central states of Nigerian.



–              Benue state


–              Niger state


–              And Nasarawa state.


yam leaves

Yam farm

It is grown both in upland and lowland ecologies as either sole crop and intercrops.

Nigeria is the largest world producer of yam with an annual production of 28 million metric tons.


READ: Why it is important planting fruit trees rather than non-fruits producing trees


Yam tubers

  • Rainfall of 7 to 8 months. 1000 – 2200mm rainfall per annum


  • Temperature of not less than 200C the best range is 200C  to 320C


  • Altitude, essentially, 0 to 1,200 meters above sea level


  • Photoperiod, yams are generally photoperiod neutral


  • Soil fertile, loose sandy loam


Soil tillage

Making of ridges

The cultivation of the ridges

  • Plowing followed by harrowing and ridging or heap making

Pre planting


  • Spray with fungicides to reduce fungal attack


  • Spray with insecticides (e.g Roger 40 or dieldrin, aldrex 40, to minimize termite and other insect damage)


  • Soak in suspension of wood ash for 12 hours before planting.


The cultivation of yam ridges is usually done manually and is highly laborious 

Planting period for yam tubers 


  • October/November in areas where the dry season is short (3 to 4 months and March/ April or when the early rains commence. The October/November plantings should be heavily mulched.


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Estimated Planting depth for yam


  • October/November planting 12 to 15 cm deep.


  • March /April planting 6 to 10 cm deep


Post planting operation


Staking support with stakes 2.5 to 3.0m length




Three weedings are adequate where available, use selective herbicides to control weeds when using herbicides, follow the instructions on the label carefully or consult an expert.


When crop rotation is practiced, manuring compost/ farmyard manure or application of inorganic fertilizers is highly recommended. Consult soil experts before applying inorganic fertilizers to yams or before using any inorganic fertilizers on any soil.



Yam takes about 6 to 8 months



Early harvesting otherwise known as milking or topping or beheading is carried out in June, July and August.


The tubers are carefully dug out of the soil and each decapitated (head removed) with minimum damage done to the feeding roots.


The beheaded top covered with soil to produced seed yams, which could be planted during the following season.


Main harvesting is carried out in October/November before the soil becomes too dry and hard for ease for harvesting by digging with the cutlass or iron rod flattened at one end.



Storage has remained a serious problem in yam production nevertheless, this important root crop can be stored for short periods.


  • In barns (rumba)


  • On racks or taragas


  • By conversion into dry yam flour ( popularly called Alubo in preparing Amala local stable food mostly consumed in southwestern Nigeria among the Yoruba ethnic people).



Young girls pounding yam


Yam may be grown as an annual or perennial crop. The tubers are stored in the ground from one season to another.


Major constrained in yam production is lack of sufficient improved, disease and pest resistant varieties with high cost of planting materials, storage facilities.


Loses from infection during storage. Low multiplication ratio, high manual labor requirement for weeding, staking and harvesting.


Yam tubers are consumable products of the yam crop, and the tubers are sources of carbohydrates. The tubers can be prepared for consumption by

A woman enjoying pounded yam

  • Boiling and eating with stew


  • Roasting and eating with  palm oil


  • Use as pounded yam (a popular delicacy in Nigeria)


  • It can be eating fried with spices, stew, or source.


  • They can be used as food, cash/ export crop, livestock feed, and has cultural values.


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