Successful manipulation of the growth cycle of yam (Dioscorea spp.) for year-round production for food security and climate change


  • L. Wickham


Yams are important items of diet throughout the Caribbean Region and, among them, the cultivars of the species, Dioscorea alata L. and D. esculenta (Lour.) Burkill are particularly important in the Eastern and Southern Caribbean, although the latter is so to a lesser extent. With a growing period of approximately nine months and a corresponding dormancy period, these cultivars are produced on an annual basis like clockwork, providing food yams for approximately three months of the year, the period of availability coinciding with the period of dormancy as the latter marks the natural period of storage of the tuber. Consequently, the breakage of dormancy marks the beginning of the end of natural storage as the emerging sprouts signal the onset of the next growing period. This coincides with the start of the rainy season and the yam is adapted to existing climatic conditions that provide the ideal environment for both plant establishment and tuber growth.