Eyebuds as planting materials
Thea Kristina Pabuayon
Abaca is traditionally planted using suckers or corms. The use of seeds, although appropriate in breeding activities, is not practiced by farmers because abaca grown from seeds takes longer time to mature and to attain harvestable size. Furthermore, resulting plants may not possess the desired characteristics of the parents or are not “true to type” because abaca is highly cross-pollinated. There is also difficulty in germinating the seeds as well as taking care of the seedlings in the field.
Tissue culture can mass-produce disease-free planting materials from a single parent material but requires much capital, sophisticated equipment and expertise. This method cannot be practiced by ordinary farmers in their respective localities.
The use of corms and suckers is simple and results in high germination and survival but these materials are bulky and costly in terms of labor and transport especially if the source is far from the planting site. Dividing the corms into seedpieces with two eyebuds each multiplies available planting materials from a single corm three or four times. Further dividing the corms into individual eyebuds was studied by Tafalla, et al. in 1992. It was found out that eyebuds are equally appropriate planting materials as seedpieces. They have similar germination and survival rate as seedpieces and have the advantage of being less bulky thereby reducing hauling and freight costs. More planting materials can be derived from each corm since eyebud is a planting material. Unlike in tissue culture, eyebud preparation is simple and can be easily adopted by farmers in their respective farms.
Steps in Eyebud Preparation and Field Planting:
- Select harvestable stalks that are easy to tumble down. Before tumbling down, remove the leaves with the use of a topping knife to avoid or minimize damage to nearby plants.
- Tumble down plants by pulling the stalks from side to side to loosen the roots. Plants with deeply embedded corms and roots are sources of eyebuds.
- Separate the corms from the stalks with the use of a sharp bolo. Pile the corms in a convenient place. Pile the stalks separately for tuxying later.
- Divide the corms into pieces measuring 5 cm x 5 cm to 7 cm x 7 cm. Each piece should have one prominent eye bud.
- Pile prepared eyebud in a shady place to avoid desiccation. Observe care in hauling and transporting eyebuds to avoid damage to the growing points.
- Prepare the land in the same way when corms or suckers are used. It should be done before the eyebuds are prepared. Plant theeyebuds within 1 week after preparation ensure high germination.
- Planting should be timed at the onset of the rainy season to ensure high germination and survival. Planting distance is 1m x 1m for nurseries and from 2m x 2m to 3m x 3m for planation depending on the size of the variety to be planted. Depth of planting is 2-6 cm and the eyebuds positioned with the growing tips pointing upward.
- All other activities like provision of shade trees, underbrushing, ringweeding, fertilizer application, etc are the same as in plants derived from corms, suckers, or seedpieces. Upon maturity, first harvest and succeeding harvests are the same as those planted using corms and seedpieces.