Dr. Olubunmi Aluko, a Weed Scientist at the Institute of Agricultural Research and Training (IAR&T), Ibadan, Oyo State, has recommended early and effective Kenaf weed control by farmers for optimum production of the crop.
Aluko made the recommendation in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Ibadan on Monday.
The weed scientist said that delayed weeding and weedy kenaf fields might significantly reduce its fibre and seed yield by 50 to 80 per cent while net return could be reduced by 86 per cent in weedy plot.
According to him, initial weed suppression remains imperative for economic kenaf production, while slow initial growth in kenaf and weed competition at this stage can be critical on the overall performance of the crop.
He noted that herbicides were effective for weed control in kenaf production as “they are quicker, cost effective and disturb the soil less where erosion may be of concern.
Aluko further explained that insects’ infestation in kenaf might result to crop failure if control measures are not anticipated early, especially in Okro-producing areas.
He, therefore, recommended routine application of insecticides at least three times from flowering stage to seed maturity stage.
Aluko noted that nematodes (soil-borne pest of crops) could infest kenaf roots and cause death of the plant as the roots rot.
He said that profitable, sustainable, commercial production of kenaf could be enhanced by good seedbed preparation to minimise weed infestation and sowing of viable seeds to facilitate rapid crop establishment.
Aluko recommended close spacing of kenaf plants to enhance rapid canopy coverage and early weed suppression.
He said that optimum infusion of pesticides and their routine application reduced cost and maximised yield.
Kenaf (Hibiscus Cannabinus L) is a fibre crop, close relative of cotton, okra, jute and rosselle.
It is currently grown as a subsistence crop and gradually becoming a major crop in Nigeria for its multi-purpose attributes.
IAR&T conducts research into the genetic improvement, production of kenaf and jute as part of its mandates.