Effects of shoot tip and flower removal on growth and yield of spider plant (Cleome gynandra L.) in Kenya.
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Aims: Despite spider plant's (Cleome gynandra L.) high nutritional value, it has received minimal research attention compared to exotic vegetables and other indigenous vegetables such as amaranth (Amaranthus spp.) and cowpeas (Vigna unguiculata). This has led to a lack of scientific production recommendations. This study contributes to developing best agronomic practices for spider plant by determining its response to shoot tip and flower removal that can lead to more profitable small-scale commercial production of the vegetable. Place and Duration of Study: Two field experiments were conducted at the Upper Kabete Field Station of the University of Nairobi, Kenya, during the long rains (February-May) and in the dry season (June-August) 2014. Methodology: A randomized completed block design with three replications was used. Commercial spider plant seeds were drilled in raised beds with cow manure as nutrient input (50 kg N ha-1). Plants were thinned to 30×20 cm, 30×15 cm and 20×15 cm spacings at six weeks after planting. Shoot tips were removed once when plants were 10-15 cm tall, and flowers were removed at bud formation throughout the experiment. Results: Flower removal produced significantly (P=.05) greater plant height, leaf yield, and fresh and dry shoot weight than both shoot tip removal and the control. Flower removal plants reached a height of 66 cm, compared to 48 and 49 cm for shoot tip removal and the control, respectively. For total leaf yield, flower removal produced 12.3 t ha-1, which was significantly greater than both shoot tip removal (8.4 t ha-1) and the control (6.5 t ha-1). Fresh shoot weight was 22.1, 15.2 and 14.4 t ha-1 for flower removal, shoot tip removal and the control, respectively. Conclusion: Flower removal during production of spider plant should be practiced in order to increase growth and leaf yield.