Crop establishment methods affected the growth, dry matter production and distribution in enset (Ensete ventricosum) plants studied at the Areka Research Centre, North Omo, Southern Ethiopia. Enset suckers transplanted only once (i.e. directly into permanent fields) flowered at about 104 weeks; flowering triggered plant senescence and shifted assimilate partitioning towards the developing inflorescence. Enset plants transplanted twice flowered at about 234 weeks, and those transplanted thrice flowered within 260 weeks. At the end of the experiment, dry matter yields per plant (excluding roots) were higher for plants transplanted twice than for plants transplanted once or thrice. At 104 weeks after separating the suckers from the corm, the production per ha and per year for transplanting once was 148 and 25% of 'kocho' dry matter more than for transplanting twice or thrice, respectively. However, at 130 weeks after separating suckers from the corm, production of dry matter of fermented kocho per ha and year were not significantly different for plants transplanted once or twice. The dry matter loss during the fermentation process ranged from 41 to 57%. Repetitive partial defoliation by removing four to five lower leaves at 6-month intervals did not affect the rate of progress from planting to flowering or the fresh and dry matter production rates of kocho after 104 weeks (before fermentation) after first transplanting. Later during the growth period, however, continued leaf pruning significantly reduced dry matter production rate of kocho (before fermentation). At both dates, leaf pruning effects were significant for values after fermentation. Transplanting suckers directly into permanent fields may be practised to obtain early yields and overcome disease problems. More frequent transplanting often delays flowering and results in higher yields per plant. To practise this method, however, suitable cropping systems and techniques need to be established that allow farmers to have enset plants at different developmental stages in order to have enough mature enset plants that can be harvested for food every year.
- Leaf pruning