Friday, June 8, 2012

When to Pick Taro

In determining when to pick taro, also known as kalo, some publications simply tell us to harvest when the corm reaches the desired size. A corm is a swollen underground plant stem that serves as a storage organ similar to a bulb.  Since the corm is underground and cannot be seen, here are some above ground signs that indicate harvest is near. 
First, it is helpful to know that dry land or upland taro is ready in 8-10 months after planting the flooded taro or wetland in about 12-15 months. Time of maturity varies with location, varieties, soil fertility, and water availability.  As maturity approaches, the height of the plant declines and the leaf petioles (stems) become shorter, usually to less than 2 ft.  This is accompanied by a general yellowing of the leaves. In wetland taro, because of the abundant water supply, the root system remains active and thus these signs are less distinct.  In addition, the main corm will begin to protrude from the soil surface. 

Harvesting leaves can be done at any time during the growth of the taro. Only the young leaves should be harvested, perhaps 1 or 2 at a time. A continual harvesting of many leaves will hamper the development of the taro corm.