A field study was carried out to evaluate the effect of different plant spacing on growth, biomass accumulation and initial establishment of Moringa oleifera multi-purpose tree. This was a one factor experiment comprising of five different plant spacing carried out in randomised design (RCBD) in three blocks at the University of Zimbabwe, Crop Science Department. The main objective of this study was to determine the most ideal plant spacing for increased biomass accumulation. The net plot was 3 × 3 m. Leaf harvests were done periodically at three week intervals by harvesting three side branches and fresh and dry matter biomass was taken in grams per plant/plot. The results indicated that high plant populations/unit area with closer spacing, produced higher biomass yields, robust rooting and longer stems, but with smaller stem diameters. Whilst on the other hand, low plant populations resulted in higher individual plant growth as evidenced by the thicker stem diameters produced. Therefore for increased biomass and leaf production, it is recommended that closer plant spacing be used if the plant is intended for vegetable and forage utilization. However, if the plants are to be utilized for fuel, leaf processing, pod and seed production, wider plant spacing are recommended for increased individual plant growth.
Key words: Moringa oleifera, biomass accumulation, population density, initial establishment.
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