Planting Water Yam: See How To Plant Water Yam

water yam plant

Water Yam (Dioscorea alata) is a monocot. 

It’s a tuber that grows underground.

This tuber is similar to Yam (Dioscorea rotundata) and (Dioscorea cayennensis)

The plant steps are the same as that of yam as well

See also how to plant yam.

Description of Water Yam Plant

Water yam like yam is an annual plant and a trailing crop, 

The stems are slender and long; it can grow up to a length of about 10 m (32.8 ft) or more.

From the stem the leaves spring out 

The leaves have a heart shape like that of yam but are a little bigger than the yam plant leaves. 

Leaves are green in colour.

Water yam tubers grow underground, the tubers have grayish brown skin and the flesh is either white or purple depending on the species.

Planting Season for Water Yam

In Southern Nigeria  March, April and May is best for planting yam. This applies to water yam as well. 

And June, July and August in the northern part.

Dry season cultivation is done between December and February.

Planting Water Yam

Step 1 – Choose a Location

Select a location that’s well drained, 

Sandy loamy soil is best for growing the crop. 

Ensure the location has good exposure to sunlight.

Step 2 – Land Clearing and Preparation

Before you plant, clear and prepare the soil for planting

Cut down shrubs and grasses, remove any dirt such as nylons or paper

Till the soil to loosen it,

This is very important for the crop to produce well as the plant reproduces underground.

Apply a good quantity of manure to the soil.

Make ridges 

And if planting in sacks fill up the sacks (bags) with soil.

Step 3 – Seed Selection when Planting Water Yam

Water yam is propagated through seed water yams (small whole water yam) or setts (cut pieces of water yam)

We have various species or varieties of water yam in Nigeria, 

Examples of some varieties are 

  • UMUDa35-Delight, 
  • Vayam 
  • Akuabata.

Decide on which variety to grow then Purchase seeds from garden or farm stores.

Seeds or setts stored from the last harvest can be used as well.

How to make water yam setts

Cut the water yam tubers into small cuts with the peel intact.

Treat the cut with wood Ash

Step 4 – Plant the Seed

With seed water yam:

On the ridge, push in the seed water yam into the soil or make a hole on the ridge enough to take the tuber with the water yam head upward, cover up with soil.

With water yam setts:

On the ridge make a hole enough to accommodate the water yam setts and ensure the tip faces upward.

The spacing between each plant should be 40 cm (15.7 in) by 75 cm (29.5 in).

To plant with sacks:

With bags already filled with soil, 

Make a hole in the soil enough to accommodate the seed water yam or setts.

Place in the seed and cover with soil.

One seed water yam or water yam setts to one sack or bag.

Step 5 – Watering

The plant needs water to grow well.

Water the plant immediately after planting.

Water everyday in the dry season or as needed during the rainy season.

Step 6: Stacking

Water yam plant is a trailing crop therefore stacking will be needed to help the plant grow well. 

This is done by placing a rod or stick (bamboo) close to the plant and gently attaching the plant to the stalk.

Be careful with the plant when stalking and avoid getting the stem cut.

Step 7: Apply Manure

Make sure to apply manure or compost to the plant after planting and about once or twice before harvest.

Maturity and Harvest

Water yam takes about six to eight months to mature, depending on the variety.

One indication that water yam is due for harvesting is that the leaves start dying the same way the yam plant would behave.  

To harvest, dig a hole around the plant with your shovel, hole or digger and drag out the water yam tuber from the ground.

Mechanized tools are also employed for water yam harvesting in large farms.

Pest and Diseases


Some of the pest that affect yam include

  • Yam Bettle
  • Mealy Bugs
  • Termites
  • Nematodes
  • Yam Scales


Some of the diseases that affect yam include

  • Yam Anthracnose disease
  • Yam Mosaic Virus disease
  • Dry rot

Pest and Disease Control

  • Plant disease resistant varieties 
  • Crop rotation 
  • Weeding

Hope this article was helpful?

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