Delayed planting of cashew seedlings coupled with the erratic weather conditions in Ghana has often led to high transplant mortality of over grown cashew seedlings. This experiment was carried out in the Guinea savanna zone of Northern Ghana to study the effect of root and shoot pruning on the survival and field performance of overgrown (4 to 7 months old) cashew seedlings. The experiment was laid out in a randomized complete block design with four replicates. Data were collected on percentage survival, plant growth and plant canopy characteristics after planting in the field. Plant survival was significantly (P < 0.05) improved when seedling leaves were halved with seedlings of between 4 and 7 months old having 84 to 95% survival. Seedlings with leaves halved and roots pruned before transplanting also established better with 83 to 86% survival. However, survival was lower (mean of 58.5 and 68.9%) with respect to treatments where seedling were defoliated and or roots pruned before transplanting. Growth of cashew plants was also significantly (P < 0.05) affected by some of the treatments. Seedlings defoliated with roots pruned before transplanting tended to produce shorter plants with smaller stems compared with the other treatments. Height of 4 to 7 months old transplants were between 61.7 and 62.4 cm and girth 17.7 and 17.9 mm. Plant canopy area, percentage light interception and leaf area index were not significantly (P > 0.05) affected by the treatments after 24 months in the field. We conclude that, establishment of overgrown cashew seedlings can be improved by pruning some of the seedling roots or by halving the leaves before transplanting.
Key words: Cashew, root and shoot pruning, field establishment, seedling age.
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