Extension Veg. Crops
Mimeo Report 64-2 HUME LIBRARY
JUL 11 1972
GROWING THE DASHEEN IN FLORIDA
Prepared by: I.F.A.S. Univ. of Florida
James M. Stephens
Assistant Vegetable Crops Specialist
Florida Agricultural E::tension Service
University of Florida
The dasheen has been grown successfully as a speciality crop in Florida since
its introduction to the state in 1908. It is a variety of the taro which has been a
basic food plant in the Orient for 2,000 years,
Description The Trinidad dasheen is the variety most commonly grown in the
South. It is a prolific plant which resembles the ordinary elephant-ear in appearance.
The broad, round, velvety-green edible leaves are borne three to seven feet high. The
dasheen is usually grown for its edible, underground parts which consist of one or
more large central corms and a lot of -cormels or lateral tubers. Corms, which,may
weigh as much as three pounds, are shaped much like a rutabaga. The smaller tubers
are similar to sweetpotatoes in shape.
Dasheens are adapted for commercial culture only in the Southern states. They
require a very warm, frostless season of at least 7 months.
Planting time In Florida, dasheens should be planted as soon as danger of
spring frost is past. They grow throughout the summer and mature the main crop in
October and November. Along about the time the tubers begin to form-(August), the
leaves begin to die back until very few leaves remain at digging time. Tubers left
undug in North Florida remain in good condition until they start to sprout in the
Soils A rich, loamy, well-drained soil is best suited for dasheens. The
hammock soils of Florida, which are a rich, sandy loam underlain with clay, are
especially suited, as are the muck lands.
Planting Dasheens are planted much like potatoes, except that the tubers are
planted whole. Each tuber should be planted three inches deep and spaced two feet
apart in four-foot rows.
Fertilizing Uell rotted animal manure or composted materials are beneficial.
On most sandy soils, a standard fertilizer such as 6-3-8 should be banded at the rate
of 70C pounds per acre at planting time. A similar application should be made as a
sidedressing in early June.
Nematodes Dasheen roots and tubers have been seriously attacked by common
root-knot nematodes in the past. It is suggested that the soil be treated with D-D,
:EDB, or other effective nematocides two or three weeks prior to planting. Since the
nematodes may be carried in the tubers, a hot-water-dip treatment should be used on
those which have come from nematode-infested soil. While dormant, dasheens should be
immersed for 40 minutes in 1220 F. water.
Other pests Dasheen plants appear to be subject to attack by few diseases and
insects. One occasional disease is bacterial.
Curing The dasheen should be harvested in dry weather and exposed to dry
thoroughly in open air for several days.
Storage Tubers can be stored successfully for nearly six months if kept at
50 F. in a well-ventilated place.
Use -.-The dasheen has fhr'ee different uses as a vegetable: (1) the corms and
tubers, used like potatoes, are mealy aid have a delicate, nutty flavor; (2) the
leaves, especially young green leaves and leafstalks, can be cooked as greens pro-
vided the acrid taste is first destroyed by boiling 15 minutes in water and a pinch
of baking soda, draining, then rinsing with boiling water; and (3) the blanched young
shoots, obtained by forcing corms in the dark, furnish a tender vegetable having a
flavor somewhat like that of mushrooms.
Dasheens also have some value as a feed for livestock. It has been reported that
horses and mules never touch raw dasheens; whereas, cattle, hogs, and chickens eat
them with relish. However, it should also be noted that cattle have sometimes de-
veloped sore youths from eating dasheens.. Dasheens are high in carbohydrates and
should be fed in conjunction with some grain and a protein supplement.
Dasheens have some possibility for use in industry such as in the manufacture of
starch, alcohol, and food chipa..
The above information has been abstracted from the following publications:
(1) :The Dasheen, A Tropical Root Crop for the South USDA Cir. 95G
(2) "Root Crops Grown in Florida Fla. State Dept. Agric. BuL 31
(3) "Vegetable Gardening in the Tropics Puerto Rico Ted. Expt. Station '. "