THE MICROCLIMATE AND LEAF AREA INDEX OF YAM PLANT IN THE GUINEA SAVANNA ECOLOGICAL ZONE OF NIGERIA
The amount of light leaf intercepts and hence plant production is mainly the function of its leaf area Index (LAI). Experimental research farm was set up at the National Centre for Agriculture Mechanization (NCAM) Kilometer 12 Ilorin -Idofian road for two yam growing seasons of2007/2008 and 2008/2009 to examine the effect of the micro climate of yam plant on its LAI. Climatic data generated from daily records include minimum and maximum temperature, rainfall amount, number of rain day, evaporation, soil temperature at soil depth intervals of 5cm, 10cm, 20cm, and 30cm, soil moisture at soil intervals of 0-15cm and 15 - 30cm. Three yam plants were randomly sampled nee every four weeks from 30 weeks after planting (WAP) and 50WAP. Yam LAI calculated using Watson (1952) formula. Since LAI measurement was carried out on monthly basis, climatic data generated were also tabulated and artitioned on monthly basis. Correlation was used to study strength of relationship. Yam leaf developed vigorously between 34WAP and 38WAP. A strong negative relationship is established between LAI and thermal indices while positive relationship of varying magnitudes exist between LA! and moisture indices. Soil temperature at 10cm and 20cm appeared to be most critical for yam LAI. Farmers in the study area are advised to improve on material used for mulching yam beds to reduce the scorching effect of sun.
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