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2. Plantation establishment
a. Site requirements
The growth and development of bamboo depends on water, sunlight, nutrients and other growth requirements. However, these growth requirements vary from one species to another. Nevertheless, these important requirements as forwarded by some authors (PCARRD 1992, Malvas 1995, Hoang et al. 1992 and MPFD 1990) hold true for Philippine bamboo.
b. Site preparation
The Bamboo Farming Manual published by the ERDB-DENR/UNDP/FAO (1994), PCARRD (1989), Pinol et al.(1991), Lapis et al. (1987), Hoang (1991), and Malab et al. (1996) describe the various steps in the preparation of planting site for bamboo:
i. Sketching or mapping and delineation of area
It is important to sketch the main features of the planting site to assess the accessibility of the area to water sources and determine the location, size and form of the plantation
Four corners of the plantation should be marked with long poles. If the plantation is too large, it should be divided into compartments measuring 100m x 100m.
iii. Field layout
The recommended spacing for most commercial bamboo species and other large clump and culm bamboo is from 7m x 7m to 10m x 10m. For medium size clump bamboos like laak and boho the spacing is 4m x 5m. For riverbank and enbankment stabilization planting quincunx system is suggested at a closer spacing of 5m x 5m.
Weeds and unwanted vegetation is removed from the area. Depending on vegetation site, complete clearing or strip clearing may be done. For riverbank or hillside planting, spot clearing is recommended for least soil disturbance.
v. Planting hole preparation
The planting hole which is prepared in advance should be wide enough to accommodate the propagules either rooted or directly planted. The suggested dimension of the planting hole is 50 cm wide and 40 cm deep.
c. Transporting/Hardening of planting stock
Hardening of the plants prior to transporting for outplanting which is about 4 to 6 months after potting is recommended. Loading and unloading of potted propagules is carefully done to avoid damage especially to the roots and new shoots.
Planting of bamboo in plantation can be done either by direct planting of cuttings or by outplanting the nursery-raised propagules.
e. Plantation maintenance and silvicultural treatments
Although bamboo can grow in harsh conditions, it is sometimes necessary to apply fertilizer to provide the plants the nutrients necessary for optimum growth, especially in very poor and marginal areas. Fertilizer application which is about 200 to 300 gm of complete fertilizer is done at planting time and every 3 to 4 months thereafter. Organic fertilizer such as cow dung and chicken manure is also recommended.
When rainfall is irregular and plants show signs of wilting during the first few months after planting, watering is deemed essential.
To reduce moisture loss from the soil and from the plant, mulching is recommended. This entails covering the hills and the plant with grasses and other organic materials.
iv. Replacement of mortality
Replacement of plants that have died should be done as soon as possible because the growth of the replanted plants may be suppresed by the older plants.
v. Weeding and brushing
Regular weeding and brushing is done during the first two years of plantation establishment to eliminate competition for light, water and nutrients from other vegetation.
Thinning is done three years after planting to remove damaged, defective and dead culms. More space is provided for the growth of new shoots and for better facilitation of management activities.
Pruning of lower branches of the culms is recommended to provide access to the clums during fertilization and harvesting.
Establishment of firebreaks along the boundaries and compartment of plantations especially during dry months is recommended to prevent fires. Planting of fast growing fire resistant species is also recommended.
Fencing the plantation perimeters should be done if grazing animals like cattle, goats, carabao are prevalent in the area.
Rodents are common pests which damage shoots and young culms. Termites also destroy roots and lower portions of the culm. Other bamboo pests commonly observed are cottony cushion mealy bug, bamboo scale, locust, leaf roller, tussick, moth and aphids. Bamboo diseases include tar spot, leafspot, leaf rust, culm blight, and other physiological diseases. Commercial rodenticides, insecticide and fungicide can be applied to control these pests and diseases. However, none of these have been reported to be in widespread proportion to pose a serious problem.
f. Bamboo Harvesting Systems/Methods
Harvesting is of great importance because it is the culmination of all production activities and efforts.
There are two known methods or systems of harvesting as practiced in the country:
i. Selective cutting
This is the most common and traditional practice where only the selected culms or poles of some specific age are harvested.
ii. Clear cut or blanket method
All poles/culms regardless of age are cut leaving only the very young culms and shoots. However, this system is practiced in very limited areas and for specific purpose. This method is known to be applied in laak species (Bambusa sp. 2) which are used as banana props.
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