Tapioca is mainly cultivated in South American countries, especially in Brazil and the Philippines, therefore it needs warm climates (possibly artificially recreated) to develop. It is necessary to bury the apical part of the tuber or another area with at least one bud, so as to allow the growth of the leaves.
During the first three months from the burial, the plant is very sensitive to water shortages, so it needs to be constantly hydrated: the ideal period for burial is therefore the beginning of the rains. After this critical quarter, however, the plant tolerates very well periods of water shortage, so it can and must be hydrated less assiduously.
Similarly, burying the plant in excessively moist soils adversely affects its development, as too much water around the apical area of the plant causes it to rot.
Care and attention to be devoted to the plant.
It is necessary to provide tapioca with a very fertile and clayey soil, characteristics that favour the accumulation of substances in the tuber and prevent the formation of harmful swamps. Especially during the first three months of growth it is important to regularly and thoroughly remove any type of weed that could compete with the plant during this delicate phase.
If you decide to grow several tapioca plants in a single garden, you should bear in mind that they require at least 3 meters apart and that the vertical growth can extend up to 2 meters (however, the length, for the non-wild variant, is on average about 80 centimeters). Harvesting, which is carried out by hand in order not to damage the tuber, must be carried out about 10-12 months after burying.
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When and how to fertilize tapioca.
Tapioca needs fertile soil to accumulate nutrients and grow.
Therefore, as soon as you have symptoms of soil fertility deficiency, it is important to implement the lost substances through the use of organic fertilizers (such as compost and peat, especially useful in the first quarter) and minerals (necessary in the development phase of the plant, from the third month onwards); At the same time, it is not necessary to administer an excessive quantity of nitrogen compounds to the growing medium, since the plant – both in the cultivated and wild varieties – tends to accumulate in the thin layer of bark a high quantity of hydrocyanic acid, toxic to human health.Soils suitable for the growth of tapioca are also those containing fungi: in fact, a symbiotic relationship is created between the tapioca and the fungi that favours the absorption of phosphorus by the plant.
How to grow tapioca: Potential diseases and pests.
Tapioca is particularly sensitive to the tapioca mosaic virus (african cassava mosaic virus), very similar to the one that attacks tobacco plants, which can be either transmitted by direct contact, or carried by some insects.
The most common parasites of the plant are the Phenacoccus manihoti, an insect belonging to the family of cochineals which feeds on tapioca leaves and releases a toxin that causes the withering of the leaves, and the Mononychellus tanajoa mite; these problems can be solved downstream with the help of pesticides, or upstream with the choice of burying resistant varieties.
In any case, it is of fundamental importance to quarantine the plants damaged (both by viruses and parasites) to prevent the spread of diseases to all other plants or possibly to other species present.
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- With tapioca flour you can prepare various dishes such as soups, biscuits, bread. This is a very nourishing food.
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