EVALUATION OF PARED SUCKERS IN NEEM DIPS AND FERTILIZER SOURCES ON SUSTAINABILITY OF INFLORESCENCE DICHOTOMOUS PLANTAIN CULTIVARS IN TROPICAL ULTISOL OF SOUTHEASTERN NIGERIA
Norah Godwin Ekanem, Leonard Itsede Akpheokhai
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Inflorescence dichotomous cultivars of false horn plantain (Musa spp.) is facing potential genetic erosion and extinction of its gene pool as a result of desertion, poor management practices, pests and diseases. Field trials were conducted at the University of Uyo Teaching and Research Farm during the 2017/2018 and 2018/2019 planting seasons to determine the effect of paring plantain suckers dipped in neem extracts and fertilizer sources on growth and yield related components of dichotomous plantain. The experiment was laid out in a randomized complete block design RCBD and replicated four times. The treatments consisted: pared sucker + 10% neem extract +10 t ha-1 poultry manure (PM); pared sucker + 10% neem extract + 20 t ha-1 PM; pared sucker + 10% neem extract + 400 kg ha-1 NPK 15-15-15 fertilizer; pared sucker + 0 t ha-1 PM and unpared sucker + 0 t ha-1 (which served as controls). Data collected on growth and yield related components were subjected to analysis of variance at 5% level of significance. Results indicated that pared suckers treated with neem extract and fertilizer sources had positive effect on growth and yield of inflorescence dichotomous plantain. However, unpared suckers + 0 t ha-1 were significantly (p>0.05) poor in growth and yield. The growth and yield parameters in the mother and first ratoon plants of pared suckers + 10% neem extract + 20 t ha-1 PM were significantly (p<0.05) superior than other treatment applications, notably, with taller pseudostem height which ranged from 306.50 to 309.50 cm, larger pseudostem girth ranged between 60.70 and 65.60 cm, number of suckers produced at harvest ranged from 9.50 to 10.00, fruit length ranged from 24.17 to 24.42 cm while the fruit diameter were between 17.83 and 18.17 cm respectively. In addition, the fruits in treated suckers increased significantly with yield ranging from 22.72 to 23.28 t ha-1 respectively. Consistently, pared plantain suckers dipped in 10% neem extract cum 20 t ha-1 PM in the field could effectively improve yield and encourage sustainability of inflorescence dichotomous plantain performance.