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Vanilla is not a difficult crop – it is a different crop from other crops most farmers are used to growing IMAGE: Michael Davis
By Piero Bianchessi, Former Owner and Operator of Venui Vanilla
Goal : to start a new vanilla plot
When : at the beginning of the rainy season and when the support trees have developed sufficient shade
Tools : (1) Wheelbarrow or bags to carry mulch (2) secateurs (3) bleach (4) small knife
(1) Vanilla is mostly propagated by stem cuttings. The cuttings must be :
- (a) Young new shoots free of flowers
- (b) Disease and damage free
- (c) 0 to 1.5m long, with a minimum of 8 nodes
(2) New roots will grow into the mulch a few weeks after planting the cutting.
(3) In 6 to 8 weeks a new shoot will start near the top of the vine and cling to the support tree with new aerial roots. In some cases a vine will have to be tied to the trunk with a bush rope.
You MUST lay the cutting into mulch; a vine directly planted into soil will die and attract fungus infestations.
PROCESS: PREPARING THE CUTTING
(1) Select a new strong young vine and using a small knife or secateurs cut at least 8 nodes above the shooting apex. Disinfect the knife between cuts in a solution of bleach and water (1 cup bleach to 4 cups water).
(2) Cut 4 or 5 leaves off at the base of the cutting. Disinfect the knife between cuts in a solution of bleach and water (1 cup bleach to 4 cups water).
(3) By hand snap the apex approximately 15cm from the top.
(4) Hang the cuttings for 7 to 10 days in a shaded, ventilated area to cicatrize (heal) and become supple
PROCESS: PLANTING THE CUTTING
(1) Mulch the support tree base.
(2) Lay 3 or 4 internodes at the bottom end of the cutting on the mulch, and cover with more mulch.
(3) Leave the bottom tip of the cutting uncovered by the mulch.
(4) Loosely fasten the vine to the support tree, letting the vine’s top-end loop downward.
(5) There should be 4 nodes laid under the mulch and 4 node on the loop above.
(6) Shade the planted vine
Do not use short cuttings; longer cuttings will grow faster!