Physico-Chemical Evaluation of Two Cocoyam Varieties Grown in Prairie View, TX
Abstract: Cocoyam is an important nutritious root crop grown by small-scale farmers in tropical and subtropical regions of the world for food and income. Farmers in Texas do not know about cocoyam and its potential as a cash crop. The goal of the bigger project which this work is part of is to evaluate its production potential in Texas and train farmers to grow it sustainably to improve the profitability of their farms. The specific goal of this study is to compare plant characteristics and basic physico-chemical properties of leaves of Prairie View grown cocoyam cultivars Xanthosoma sagittifolium and X. mafaffa established from cormels. They were planted 1m apart in sets of five on raised beds with plastic cover in July 2017 in completely randomized design. Each set of five plants constituted a replication and each cultivar was replicated three times. All cultivar replicates received equal amounts of fertilizer and water over the study period. Measurement of plant characteristics as well as leaf harvesting occurred in October 2017. The plant data collected including plant height, leaf relative chlorophyll, dimensions and weight of the largest leaf and number of leaves as well as leaf physico-chemical data comprising pH, Brix, moisture, water activity and color were subjected to analyses of variance using the JMP software. While length of the largest leaf and number of leaves per plant were statistically the same for both cultivars, X. sagittifolium plants were significantly taller with higher leaf relative chlorophyll (p < 0.1). Leaf widths and fresh weight were also significantly higher for X. sagittifolium (p <0.05). The leaf color parameter a (red/green) was also higher for X. sagittifolium (p = 0.0073) but leaf lightness and leaf water activity were significantly higher for X. mafaffa (p <0.05). All the other leaf physico-chemical properties measured were statistically the same.
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