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Copyright 2005, Board of Trustees, University
MIMEOGRAPHED REPORT SUB67-3 March, 1967
University of Florida
Institute of Food and Agricultural Scie ce ,,
SUB-TROPICAL EXPERIMENT STATION .i '
18905 S. W. 280 Street
Homestead, Florida 33030
MALANGA CULTURE IN DADE COUNTY--PROBLEMS AND PROGRESS
by IF.A.S. Univ. florida
C. W. Averre, III ... Unv. Florida
The malanga as it is known in Cuba is Xanthosomas sagittaefolium (L.) Schott and is
in the Araceae family. It is closely related to the dasheen or taro of the South
Pacific (Colocasia esculenta (L.) Schott.) The malanga is also variously known in
Latin America as tiguisque, yautiaor tanier. There are many clonal types, or
cultivars, reported in the literature (Barrett 1905, Roig 1953, and Young 1924).
The type currently grown probably came from the Dominican Republic and is of the
"blanca" type. Malangas according to Roig (1953) originated in Africa. The same
author discusses classification of the plant. The most comprehensive review of all
phases of malanga culture is that of Barrett (1905).
Cuban refugees in Dade County have been growing malangas for the Latin markets in
Miami since early 1963. The area devoted to malanga culture has probably never ex-
ceeded one hundred acres at one time. There are some plantings of malangas in the
Belle Glade area. Related Aeroides have been grown in the South for some time.
Malangas are highly prized by Cubans as a fine starchy food which is reportedly ex-
cellent for small children. The food is an important staple in many tropical areas
(Barrett, 1905 and Roig 1953). The cormels which are produced around the mother
plant range in size up to more than half a pound with a length of 5 inches and a
diameter of 1 inches at the terminal end. Eight or ten marketable cormels may be
produced per plant. The production time of the crop is variable, but should be no
longer than eight months. The skin is brown and flaky, and the meat is white. The
keeping qualities at room temperature are good if the cormels are protected from
drying out. The cormels are prepared by peeling, boiling until soft, and seasoning
to taste. Diced malangas are often added to vegetable soup.
The local malanga economy appears to be good. Cormels are currently selling for 25
per pound and yields up to 10,000 pounds per acre are possible. A number of growers
are interested in the possibility of exporting to New York and other areas.
Malanga culture in Dade County has suffered from: (1) hurricanes accompanied by
salt water intrusion (2) low soil fertility and moisture (3) minor element defi-
ciency (4) frosts (5) suckering of cormels, and (6) poor and uneven germination
of "seed" pieces. The first three have caused complete crop failure at times so
that possibly over half of the acreage of malangas planted to date has never been
harvested. Careful attention to all these problems is necessary if malangas are to
be grown successfully and produce top yields.
The Sub-Tropical Station has been observing and investigating some of these pro-
blems for over three years but there is still much to be learned especially with
regard to fertility, cultural practices and varietal adaptation.
Environment.--Some comparisons of soil type, elevation, and day length have given
inconclusive or conflicting information. Crops have ranged from excellent to poor
both on high Rockdale and on low marl soil. However, better crops are more usually
observed on "new" marl land. Malanga foliage is extremely susceptible to frost,
but new leaves are quickly produced without much apparent damage to the crop. The
foliage can be protected from light frosts by sprinkler irrigation.
Suckering of cormels.--Suckering of cormels before sizing up prior to harvest is a
serious problem since such cormels are not marketable or at best bring a reduced
price. In some plants all cormels develop suckers. In other cases only a few pro-
duce suckers. Studies have shown that day length and soil moisture have no effect
on suckering. The problem is equally as serious on Rockdale as on marl soils. In
one test the problem was almost completely avoided; in this case it was believed
that the reason for proper cormel development was the rapid and vigorous growth of
the plants as a result of adequate maintenance of soil fertility, soil moisture,
and timely correction of iron chlorosis.
There may be varietal differences in suckering habit so that proper selection of
"seed" may be important.
Minor element deficiency.--Malanga plants generally show interveinal chlorosis. At
times this problem is very acute and growth is severely restricted. The problem
generally is not as severe on "new" land. The application of chelated iron
(Sequestrene 330 and 138), drenched on the soil at the rate of 40 Ibs in 3000 gal
of water per broadcast acre, readily corrected the chlorosis. Similar application
of ferrous sulfate was ineffective. Ferrous sulfate sprays, at 12.5 Ib per 100 gal
were effective but this concentration burned the leaves.
Germination of "seed".--Cormels and sections of corms, commonly called "seed", are
used as planting material. At times the germination of this "seed" is so uneven
that the crop does not mature uniformly. No remedy has been found for this pro-
blem. Dipping the cormels in 2 and 4 ppm of gibberellic acid for 2 and 4 minutes
respectively, had little effect on germination. Possibly the most practical
solution to the problem would be to establish "seed" beds and plant those that have
already germinated. In one test larger yields were associated with the larger
"seed" pieces and with large cormels that had germinated.
Fertilization, irrigation and yield.--In one test planted in May and harvested after
one year, plants were spaced at three foot intervals in rows 12 feet apart. They
received 1500 Ib per acre of 4-8-6-2Mg0-1MnO at planting and k Ib per plant monthly
thereafter. They were irrigated twice a week during dry periods and were protected
from a frost with sprinkler irrigation. The yield per plant varied from 4.3 Ib to
10.9 Ib (equivalent to 5,200 to 13,200 lbs/acre and 20 to 50% of the cormels sucker-
ed depending on type of "seed" used. In another test 27 Ib of commercially ac-
ceptable cormels were harvested from 12 plants in an area 9' x 6' (equivalent to
21,600 Ibs/acre) and less than 15% of the cormels suckered. These plants were
heavily fertilized with a complete fertilizer and were regularly drenched with a
solution of chelated iron (Sequestrene 138). They were planted in February and
harvested in September. These results suggest that yields as well as suckering
might be affected by fertilization and/or plant spacing.
Annonymous. 1921. Cultural requirements of the dasheen. For the Southern United
States, from Southeastern Texas to Eastern South Carolina. U. S. Dept.
Agr. Bureau of Plant Industry. Office of Foreign Seed and Plant Intro-
Barrett, 0. W. 1905. The yautias or taniers, of Porto Rico. Porto Rico Agr.
Exp. Sta. Bull. No. 5
Roig, M. J. T. 1953. Diccionario botanico de nombres vulgares Cubanos. Estacion
Experimental Agronomica. Santiago de las Vegas, Cuba. (2 Vol.).
Young. R. A. 1914. The forcing and blanching of dasheen shoots. U. S. Dept. Agr.
Bureau of Plant Industry. Foreign Seed and Plant Introduction
Washington, D. C.
The dasheen, a root crop for the South. Ibid.
1924. The dasheen. A Southern root crop and home use and market.
U. S. Dept. Agr. Farmer's Bul. No. 1396. Washington, D. C. 35 p.
Taros and yautias; promising new food plants for the South.
U. S. Dept. of Agr. Dept. Bul. No, 1247. Washington, D. C. 23 p.