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Dairy farm tour and training on 10th Aug 2019 – Kefa Garden

DAIRY FARM TOUR AND TRAINING

Any farmer interested in dairy farming and animal rearing should join us as we hold our agro-tourism in one of biggest and profitable dairy farm in Kenya. Agritourism is about touring farms where small scale farmers and largescale farmers are getting it right.

This August we have organized a visit to Kefa Farm situated in Makuyu Muranga County. Many are a times, that we as farmers have “tried” dairy farming without the right knowledge or information of what we are supposed to do to make the best returns. Almost every home in in rural area in Kenya owns a cow, but how much does it give you? Are you a slave of your own cow?

Many will concur with me that most of the times we feed these cows and get almost nothing out of them. A time has come when we no longer have to view owning cows as a source of prestige and respect but make money out of them.

Therefore, Farm expose in conjunction with Oxfarm team and Farmers Trends have decided to treat our farmers with the best tour of the year. Interested people are required to pay 2500 before 9th August 2019. However, those with their own means of transport are required to pay at the gate.

This Agritour day comes with a treat of Lunch, writing materials, farming brochures and many more. Interested parties are required to be in Nairobi town on or before 7:30 am on the material day. Those who will be training us have a lot lined for us and they have a request to the interested people to be at the farm before 9:00 because they intend to start early and finish early.

 

ABOUT THE FARM

Kimani, a farmer and one of the directors, of Kefa Farm which is like any other farm you can simply pass while not noticing it because it lies in good harmony with the other farms dry, somewhat abandoned. However, this farm produces more than 1400 liters of milk daily. He owns more than 200 zero–grazed cows where 60 are lactating some produce between thirty five and forty five liters daily.

The farm is situated on a slope ideal for waste disposal and conjointly sells heifers and carries out embryo transfers. It has gained name as a supply of pedigree cows and a ground for coaching farmers on dairy farm management. Situated during a semi–arid space of Makuyu in Murang’a County wherever temperatures average 21.7°C and receives 836mm of downfall annually, the farm is showing new opportunities within the preponderantly rain–fed agricultural zone. Kimani credits its existence to the 2007/2008 post-election turmoil that saw several displaced individuals settled within the region pushing up demand for milk.

Then the farm was solely with one cow and an employee. The steady rise in demand for milk created Maine devise ways that boosted the farm. Kimani notes that he spent KSh 90,000 on building a cow barn for 5 animals and acquired 2 Holstein cows at KSh 40,000 each. Since then, he has never looked back.

His heard grew to eighty-two in 2014, however he had to cut back the quantity to sixty-four because of restricted house and deficiency of feeds. The farm sank its own borehole and expanded by getting an added adjacent acre and another four acres wherever heifers are bred. He conjointly leases alternative farms to grow fodder.

Kimani improved his skills in animal care, health and farm management by attending agricultural trainings, visiting alternative farms, researching and came up with a program to develop the abilities of his ten employees.

The farm has four departments every headed by completely different persons. These are stores, sales, production and milking. Every head features a full mandate to rent casuals and build alternative choices. They report daily to Kimani by filing updates to a central system wherever all managers will access the knowledge. For example, the shop head will caution close at hand shortage of feeds or the milking head will send alert on an exact animal noted for declining production.

The animals are hosted on half-acre, with the cowsheds divided into sections that embrace steamers, milking, maternity and calves of between zero and 3 months and another for winnowers aged six months. The winnowers are taken away of the most farm to a different within the neighborhood wherever patrons simply access them. At the so much finish is associate degree isolation section for the sick animals.

He conjointly follows up his callers and people who visit his farm permitting them to consult him frequently. Kenyans not got to mystify dairying by attending to Israel for lessons. Israel is here at Kefa Farm

 

NOTE: “Seeing is believing” We could tell you more but we know that you are eager to come and share your views with us as we all learn on how to become better dairy, chicken and pig farmers. Tell a friend to tell a friend.

 

WHAT TO EXPECT FROM THE FARM TOUR

Expect to learn on the following
  • Production and herd structure
  • Animal health
  • Calf rearing/young stock management
  • Feeds/feeding management (TMR system)
  • Groupings and requirements
  • New Cow Barns ( for cow comfort and efficiency)
  • Herd management software (UNFORM AGR)
  • Adoption of technology
  • Socio-economic management
  • Challenges

Event date: 10th August 2019

CHARGES PER HEAD

  • 2,500/= Inclusive of transport, Lunch and writing materials.
  • Payable to Farmer Trend mpesa till number 201677
  • send confirmation to 0706222888

 

 

 

 

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Pest and Diseases Affecting Hass Avocado

The Hass avocado variety is the most popular Kenya Avocado for export because it enjoys a good market in Europe as compared to the other varieties. Hass is originally from Guatemala and one of its most prominent features is that it turns dark purple when ripe.

Basic control measures of keeping your hass avocado free from pest and diseases

  1. Planting the grafted species, (hass variety). Grafting greatly improves plant resistances to diseases.
  2. Weed control. Weeds are harmful in many ways. They harbour insect, pests and diseases:- Weeds either give shelter to various insects, pests and diseases or serve as alternate hosts.
  3. It helps to remove moisture reducing the chance of fungal infections and other air-borne diseases. The moisture is removed as the sun penetration will have increased when the fruit tree is pruned.

Pest affecting Hass avocados tree

Tree borers

They are a group of insects that lay their eggs on or inside of trees, where the young larvae eat their way through tissues.

Tree borer insects cause affected parts of trees to slowly weaken as their chewing severs vital transport tissues. Over time, they may girdle trees or weaken branches to the point that they break under pressure.

Thrips

a thrip on avocado fruit

Thrips cause leathery scars on fruits. Organic mulch is recommended to discourage the survival of these pests. Pyrethrin can be used to eliminate thrips.

Caterpillars

They damage fruit flower and leaves. Check on folded leaves as caterpillars tend to thrive there. They are eliminated by using a natural pesticide like pyrethrin or a systematic insecticide.

Diseases affecting Hass avocado trees

  1. Fungal diseases

Anthracnose

 Causative agent – Colletotrichum or Gloeosporium

Symptoms-Spots form on leaves, beginning as yellow, then brown discolorations that coalesce into large dead areas. Necrosis occurs across or between leaf veins, on leaf margins, and most often at leaf tips. Before harvest, brown to black lesions less than 0.2 inch (5 mm) in diameter develop around lenticels on infected fruit. These small discolorations can be overlooked while fruit are still on the tree, and lesions usually do not enlarge until fruit ripens after harvest. After harvest, lesions become blacker, larger, and increasingly sunken. Lesions eventually spread over the entire fruit surface and throughout pulp.

Remedy– removing all dead fruits, leaves and branches at the end of the year and cleaning up any debris or dropped fruits that might accumulate underneath. Prune your trees so the insides are more open and allow the wind to penetrate, reducing life-giving humidity in the canopy. Spraying the tree with copper fungicide every two weeks after blossom drop will ensure that your fruit is protected throughout its development.

Avocado root rot

Casuative agent– phytophthora cinnamomi.

Symptoms– light green to yellow, undersized foliage on infected plants. Leaves may also have brown, necrotic tips or margins.

Remedy-use certified disease free nursery stock, or use a systemic fungicide

an avocado affected by scab

Scab

Causative agent –sphaceloma perseae

Symptoms – lesions that appear are black and brown and scattered across the fruit skin.

Remedy – application of copper based fungicide when flower buds appear and 3 to 4 weeks later.

  1. Viral diseases

Sun blotch

Symptoms – Yellow, pink, whitish, or red streaks and spotting of the bark and twigs and limbs.

Remedy – no treatment for sun blotch since it arrives with the plant.

  1. Bacterial diseases

Bacterial soft rot

Symptoms – Gray to black, mushy, foul smelling rot on fruit; fruit has darkened metallic sheen.

Remedy – no known treatment. Use certified seedlings while planting seedlings.

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Propagation, planting, care and harvesting of Bananas

Banana cultivation is one of the most popular fruit as it grows all-round the year irrespective of other fruits, which are usually seasonal in nature. Fertile soil is important for its cultivation, so it is best grown in volcanic and alluvial soils. Bananas are rich in antioxidants, magnesium, and vitamin C.

The other nutrients found in the fruit are vitamin B6, protein, dietary fiber, riboflavin, niacin, iron, etc. This fruit is good for heart health as it protects against the blood pressure fluctuations because of its potassium content.

It also helps in treating depression as magnesium helps in relaxation of muscles and Vitamin B6 helps to sleep well. Other advantageous benefits of banana consumption include weight loss, vision improvement, improvement of digestion, stronger bones, etc.

Propagation and Planting of Bananas

Young banana plants

Banana is propagated through tissue cultures which are developed in the laboratories and these yield highly and suckers developed by rhizomes and may take a year to form a fully mature banana.

Two types of suckers develop on banana plants, but only one type works well to produce a new plant. When leaves begin to appear on the suckers, look for the one that develop straight, thin leaves initially instead of the one that develop broad leaves. Choosing straight thin leaved sucker over broad leaved suckers produces both thicker pseudo stems and larger fruit yields.

The recommended banana spacing is 3m by 3m.The hole dug should be 3ft by 3ft. Mix 1 bucket of manure with the top soil removed and fill the hole again with the mixture.

Plant the sucker right at the middle of the hole. Irrigation is necessary for the young sucker to enhance its survival. Do not plant when it has over rained or when the winter is severe. Bananas require a lot of water but when drainage is poor they are prone to rotting.

Strawberries Farming in Kenya

Care and Maintenance of Bananas

Bananas are associated with or require little care for them to reach full maturity. The following basic management skills will maximize production of the plant.

  1. Fertilize with a balanced compound fertilizer after you notice the first flush of leaves and ensure it is applied some few centimeter’s away from the plant to avoid tissue burn. Bananas require a lot of potassium. The rate of application should be after every three months.
  2. A bucket of well decomposed manure should be put and should be thoroughly mixed with top soil around the plant and should be put after every six months.
  3. Weeding must be done once the weeds sprout. The field should always be clean.
  4. Mulching will ensure water is conserved.
  5. Water frequently. Ensure the soil moisture levels are at the desired levels.
  6. When the plant reaches maturity remove all the excessive suckers remaining with a single sucker that will follow its mother plant. This will even ensure uniformity while harvesting.
  7. Support the plant to avoid toppling due to weight or strong winds.

Harvesting of Bananas

harvested bananas

First the flower will form and then the fingers will come out with the flowers dangling down. The bananas will have a defined ridge when they are still young and green.as they begin to mature, the fruit will become plump and fill out into the ridges.

They turn from dark green to light green to yellow and remember not all will turn yellow but still as they ripen they are very sweet.

Harvesting can be done at the light green stage or at the yellow stage (ripening stage)

NB. To AVOID diseases like fusarium wilt, banana bract mosaic virus, banana streak disease, infectious chlorosis CMV, ensure your suckers and tissue culture bananas come from certified nurseries.

 

 

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Strawberries Farming in Kenya

Strawberries are sweet, red heart shaped fruit which has a delicious taste and has numerous nutritional benefits. Packed with vitamins fiber, and particularly high levels of antioxidants known as polyphenols, strawberries are a sodium free, fat free, cholesterol free, and a low calorie food. Eight strawberries provide more vitamin c than an orange.

Health Benefits of Strawberries

  • Reduce high blood pressure. Strawberries are rich in potassium and magnesium and low in sodium which helps in reducing high blood pressure.
  • Boost immunity. Strawberries are highly packed with vitamin c.
  • Help in preventing cancer. Have many flavonoids that act as excellent antioxidants.
  • Boost brain function. Rich in vitamin c, iodine and phytochemicalswhich help in maintaining the proper functioning of the nervous system.
  • May lower the risk of developing type 2 diabetes.
  • Reduces the risk of eye related ailments.

 June-bearing Strawberry Varieties:

June-bearing Strawberry Variety

June bearers are tremendously popular and common. They typically produce the largest strawberries, and do so over a period of two to three weeks, on average. Most June bearing strawberry varieties produce a harvest around the month of June, hence the name. However, strawberry varieties are further classified into Early Season, Midseason, and Late Season. By selecting strawberry plant varieties that produce during different parts of the season, you can prolong your harvest and enjoy fresh strawberries for an extended period of time.

Ever-bearing Strawberry Varieties:

Ever-bearing strawberries aren’t really “ever bearing.” They generally produce two harvests per year: one in the spring and another in the late summer or fall. Under ideal conditions, it is possible for some ever bearing varieties to produce three berry harvests. In general, overbearing varieties put out less runners than the June bearing varieties, as most of the plants productive energy is directed toward producing multiple strawberry harvests.

Inter-cropping and Mulching in Tissue Culture Banana Farming

Day-neutral strawberry varieties:

Day-neutral Strawberry Variety

Day neutral strawberry plants are unique. Unlike June bearing varieties, day neutral strawberries will produce a good yield in the first year they are planted. They will still be producing fruit in October during milder years. The drawback to day neutral strawberry plants is that they produce smaller strawberries than do the June bearing and ever bearing strawberry varieties. Their fruit is usually small to medium in size, rarely exceeding one inch.

Best Performing Strawberries

Here are some of the best performing types of strawberries,

Albion – Very resistant to disease, large, firm fruit, numerous runners (Day Neutral)

Tillamook – Resistant to some disease, fruit is excellent for preserves or eating out of hand (Early)

Northeaster – Large fruits and high yield (Early)

Elsanta – Not resistant to some diseases but large, firm, sweet fruit (Day Neutral)

Jewel – Big firm fruit, some resistance to leaf disease, moderate runners (Everbearing)

Earliglow – Resistant to leaf and root diseases, very flavorful berries (Early)

Quinalt – Resistant to many diseases, large, soft fruit (Everbearing)

These are but a few varieties from which to choose, but your local extension or nursery can arm you with the optimum choices for your region. In addition, you may prefer to plant native strawberries. These make excellent ground covers and are hardy and resistant to most diseases. Native strawberry types include:

a) Alpine strawberry

b) European strawberry

c) Fraises de Boise

d) Woodland strawberry

e) Wild strawberry

Strawberry plants are usually planted 18 to 24 inches apart in rows 36 to 48 inches apart. Spacing decisions depend on the size of your land. Growers should purchase cultivars resistant to red stele and verticillum wilt from a reputable nursery.

Flower blossoms should be removed during the first season. This practice sacrifices the first year’s crop, but it enables growers to establish a bed of vigorous plants. It is especially important to closely monitor and control pests in the first year.

Yields of day-neutral varieties are typically higher than those of June bearers because of the extended harvest season.

Strawberries must be picked and handled very carefully. Berries are harvested at least three times per week. The fruit must be firm, well colored, and free from rot.

When harvested at the right time and handled properly, strawberries will remain in good condition for a few days.

Several insect pests and diseases can cause crop losses; therefore, it’s important to monitor and control pests. Some pests affect the flowers and fruit, while others attack the foliage, stems, crowns, and roots of the plant. Proper scouting and efficient monitoring must be enhanced.

Weeds must be controlled, as strawberries have shallow root systems that put them at a disadvantage when competing for water and nutrients. Proper and timely weeding should be put into practice. Strawberry farming is very profitable when planted under ideal conditions.

 

 

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Former Teacher Earning Millions from Hass Avocado Farming in Tetu Nyeri

In this life, one has to plan for his future after retirement. At the outskirts of Nyeri county in Tetu Sub-county, Githakwa Village, you will find One Mr Kabue a former primary school teacher who after retirement decided to venture in Hass avocado farming. Mr Kabue has made life out of avocado farming and we have been following him since engaging us in 2014.

Why Did You Decide On Hass Avocado?

“Unlike old days, farming is different today. most farmers especially in Tetu used to grow tea, coffee and maize, if there was an avocado it would be in a corner somewhere. Nobody cared about it, nobody even remembered it until it matured. It was purely peasant farming with no intention of making money. That avocado probably wasn’t not planted or cared for. However, farming has adopted a different meaning for commercial purposes especially when it comes to Hass avocado farming”, Mr Kabue said.

He further explained that after visiting a few avocado farmers and doing his own research, he decided to try a few trees.

Where Did You Get Your Hass Avocado Seedlings From?

Hass Seedlings at Oxfarm.co.ke demo at Ridgeways Nairobi

Mr Kabue did a thorough analysis of the market and his land and decided to contact hass avocado seedling sellers. He had several options but later decided to buy 200 seedlings from Oxfarm.co.ke in 2014. He says that seedlings from Oxfarm are certified and are the real hass and that they (oxfarm) offers extension services advising farmers on how to do sustainable farming and the best way to go about tree fruit farming. He recalls, our officers going to his farm regularly to monitor the progress. compared to other sellers, Oxfarm will guide you and eventually connect you with the market.

Improving banana farming in Kenya through Value Addition

How Much Do You Get From Your Hass Avocado Trees?

Hass avocado
Mr Kabue’s Hass avocado trees

Mr Kabue says he cannot compare what he is getting now from Hass avocado and previous farming. His returns has increased tremendously and being a member of TEHU (Tetu-Huhoini) avocado farmers group, in 2018, all the members were able to sell their fruits at Ksh 12. Mr Kabue projects that the future of avocado farming in Kenya will rise and the prices can only go higher.

What Would You Tell Farmers?

Farmers should think business when it comes to farming. the traditional way of doing things has been overrun by events.” Why would someone keep on growing coffee hoping for better returns year in  and out?” Mr. Kabue Posed.  Although tea and coffee farming used to be good in their heir days, it has now deteriorated and cartels have taken charge of once central province economic power crops.

Many farmers venture into farming without key information and the project flops in less than an year. To avoid that scenario,  Mr Kabue reads widely on avocado farming like this and visits successful avocado farms. His focus was how to tend to avocado seedlings from day one to maturity, transplanting, monitoring, disease management and marketing matters.

Mr Kabue wants to have more than 600 Hass avocado trees by the end of 2020, a dream he says is achievable and will make him not just a millionaire but a force in matters farming in  his village. Imagine having 600 hass avocado trees where one can give you at least 1000 fruits, that loosely translates to 600,000 fruits. if one fruit can sell at a minimum of Ksh 10, Mr Kabue in just one harvest would have Ksh 6 million. How many kenyans earn that kind of money in an year??

 

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How Best to manage Orchards in Kenya

nursery mkulima wa nyeri farm

Managing fruit orchards is the most complex task a farmer has to undertake if he or she has to get the best results from the plant. Management entails of fertilizing, irrigating, pruning and pests and diseases control.

Fertilizing

Nutrition is a factor to the yields or the production of a plant. Fertilizers are used to promote rapid tree growth. Do not apply fertilizer until the trees produce their first leaf flush. Amend your nutrition applications to suit local situations.

The 3 macro-nutrients – nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium – are generally reflected in a fertilizing formula’s ratio. The numbers in the ratio correspond to the amounts of nutrient represented in the fertilizer content.

Fertilizer is good for plants. However, too much of the wrong nutrient can have adverse effects and too much fertilizer can burn roots and shoots. Reading the fertilizer content will give you a clue to how much of each macro-nutrient is contained in the formula as well as any other nutrients, such as calcium and magnesium.

The analysis or grade on a fertilizer label gives the ratio of each macronutrient in the product, represented by a 3-number ratio (NPK). This is important to note if you are trying to feed a leafy plant or promote blooming. The 3-number ratio can interpret how much nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium in order as they appear in the ratio.

Nitrogen, the first number, directs leafy growth, while phosphorus contributes to bud set and rooting. Potassium is essential for overall plant health and increases its defenses to unfavorable conditions and disease. So a 10-5-5 is a fertilizer high in nitrogen, while a 5-10-5 would be a bloom enhancer.

Soils with high organic content, where compost or other amendments have been worked in, need less frequent applications of fertilizer, as they have natural sources of nutrients available to plant roots.

Keep fertilizers at least 20 cm away from the trunk to avoid tissue burn. Apply the fertilizer evenly under the canopy and out to a point 30 cm past the drip line or edge of the canopy. Water in well or apply during rain.

Timing of fertilizer application has a significant effect on crop yields. Proper timing of the fertilizer application increases yields, reduces nutrient losses, increases nutrient use efficiency and prevents damage to the environment.

Applying fertilizers at the wrong timing might result in nutrient losses, waste of fertilizer and even damage to the crop.

PEST AND DISEASES CONTROL IN TREE TOMATO (TAMARRILO) FARMING

Irrigation

papaya-drip-irrigation

Supplementary watering during the first few years will assist tree establishment. The timing and quantity of water applied varies with tree size, soil, weather and time of year.

Irrigating your orchards has numerous benefits which include saving your water e.g. drip and sprinkle irrigation and time. By having an automated system to distribute your water supply, you do not have to be physically present for the water system to be effective. The automatic shut off will keep your water usage to a minimum, and lower your costs since less water will be used.

Irrigating your orchards preserves soil nutrients. Using an irrigation system will preserve your soil structure and keep your plants absorbing nutrients, not the runoff water.

Irrigation helps in improving plant growth. Plants will grow faster and greener when watered with smaller amounts of water over a longer period, which is exactly what irrigation systems are designed to do. Installing an irrigation system will improve your plant growth significantly.

It reduces weed growth. Only areas that truly need water will receive it, thus limiting your potential weed growth. Drip irrigation systems are particularly efficient at this: the system directs water specifically to each plant’s roots, rather than sprinkling over the entire garden.

Pruning

one year hass avocado tree

Pruning is cutting away dead or overgrown branches or stems, especially to encourage growth.

The practice entails targeted removal of diseased, damaged, dead, non-productive, structurally unsound, or otherwise unwanted tissue from crop and landscape plants. In general, the smaller the branch that is cut, the easier it is for a woody plant to compartmentalize the wound and thus limit the potential for pathogen intrusion and decay. It is therefore preferable to make any necessary formative structural pruning cuts to young plants, rather than removing large, poorly placed branches from mature plants.

Because each cut has the potential to change the growth of the tree, no branch should be removed without a reason. Common reasons for pruning are to remove dead branches, to improve form, and to reduce risk. Trees may also be pruned to increase light and air penetration to the inside of the tree’s crown or to the landscape below. In most cases, mature trees are pruned as corrective or preventive measures, as routine thinning does not necessarily improve the health of a tree.

In general, you only need a few basic Pruning tools. For the health of your trees and shrubs, it’s important to keep the blades clean and sharp.

  • Hand pruners are the basic tool for most jobs and can cut branches up to 3/4″ in diameter. Choose either bypass pruners, which cut with a clean, scissors action, or anvil pruners, which have a blade that presses against a bar.
  • Loppers resemble hand pruners with long handles. They’re useful for reaching down into tangled shrubs or overhead to just-out-of-reach limbs. They can cut limbs up to 1-1/2″ in diameter, depending on the model.
  • Pruning saws have special blades that cut on the pull stroke and self-clean to prevent binding in fresh, sap-filled wood. Choose a handheld saw for work at ground level or invest in a pole-mounted saw for overhead cuts.
  • Hedge shears have long, scissors blades for trimming hedges. They’ll cut twigs up to 1/2″ in diameter.

Pruning your orchards involves only two kinds of cuts: heading and thinning. Heading cuts remove shoots or branches back to stubs, buds or smaller lateral branches. These cuts usually cause the plant to respond vigorously with bushy new growth. Shearing a hedge, deadheading flowering plants and pinching out the tips of plants to encourage branching are all examples of heading cuts.

A thinning cut removes a branch back to its origin or to a lateral branch that’s at least one-third of the removed-limb’s diameter. Thinning cuts leave the pruned plant with a natural appearance.

When you cut a twig or branch back to the trunk or to a lateral branch, it’s important cut at just the right place. Look for a raised bump or rings around the base of the twig or branch and take care to cut just outside it, leaving the ring intact. It’s called the branch collar, and this is where the scar tissue forms to heal the wound.

Pest and Diseases Control

While tree fruit may be as different as apples and oranges, controlling the pests and diseases that can influence productivity is as standard as they come.  The key to a healthy orchard is a well run, well-rounded Integrated Pest Management program (IPM). IPMs will reduce pesticide usage and environmental contamination, help establish proper timing of control measures, decrease resistance to current pesticides, protect against excessive crop loss, and help implement the newest farming technologies.

Avoid orchards sites that are on or near abandoned orchards. This will reduce the chance of existing pests and diseases infecting the new site.

Cover crops should be planted a year before planting and mulched into the soil. This will improve organic matter content, suppress replant disease, weeds, and reduce nematodes. Cover crops are also used by existing orchards to increase soil nutrients when adding new acreage, build soil structure, and provide erosion control.

Consider soil drainage as well, since good drainage will prevent root diseases that can massacre rootstock.

Once the orchards gets established, weekly monitoring during the growing season is the best way to control pest issues. Setting up traps and checking them weekly will provide an idea of what, if any, pest issues are present.

Keeping the floor of the orchard clear of weeds and fallen fruit will keep away larger pests such as deer, mice, and voles, and also their attract natural predators.

Careful monitoring of weather conditions and covering crops before and during rain can keep the fungus under control and limit fungicide sprays.

Organic products such as sulfur, insecticidal soap, diatomaceous earth, and non-botanic oils can safely control insect populations as well as some diseases.

No matter what type of orchard – apple, orange, pear, peach, etc – management of pests is important and necessary. Basic IPM strategies will keep your trees healthy and fruitful for years to come.

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PEST AND DISEASES CONTROL IN TREE TOMATO (TAMARRILO) FARMING

Tamarillo best known as tree-tomatoes in Kenya is a fast-growing tree that grows up to 2-5 meters. Grafted tree tomato reaches peak production after 1-2 years while the normal ones reach after 3-6 years depending on the caltivar, and the life expectancy is about 12 years. The tree usually forms a single upright trunk with lateral branches. Grafted Tree-tomato produce 6-10 fruits per cluster. Plants can set fruit without cross-pollination, but the flowers are fragrant and attract insects. Cross-pollination seems to improve fruit

Pests That Affect Tree Tomato

The most common pests are aphids, root knot nematodes, white flies, cut worms and horn worms.

Aphids

Aphids in a tree tomato leafaphids are small sap-sucking insects. Aphids are slow moving and come in shades of green, red, brown, black and yellow. They have needle-like mouth-parts which they use to suck juices out of plants. Low to moderate aphid population levels do not usually cause significant damage and rarely kill mature plants. However, large infestations can reduce plant yields and produce sticky “honeydew,” warranting pest control.

The first step in controlling aphids is by weeding. Aphids often collect on weeds like sowthistle and mustard. Where the infestation is large you can spray effective insect sides such as Karate,  Actara or pentagon 50EC.

Root knot Nematodes

They are microscopic worms which occupy each acre of fertile earth in billions. This particular species invades various crops, causing bumps or galls that interfere with the plant’s ability to take up nutrients and to perform photosynthesis. Unfortunately, controlling nematodes is not easy.

The best control of nematodes in tree tomato fruits is by planting the grafted one as  bug weed (muthakwa) tree which is used to graft is resistance to nematodes.

White Flies

small yellow-bodied insects which have white wings, which they. They feed on the underside of tree tomato leaves, sucking out sap and weakening the plant. Affected leaves begin to yellow and die, the leaf margins usually curl inward as damage progresses.

Inspect the underside of tomato leaves for white flies. By natural control methods use a jet of water to blast white flies and wash them off your plants and leaves. Repeat this process every week to control and get rid of white flies. For effective elimination of white flies you can also use a contact insecticide namely; levo 2.4sl.

Cutworms

Cutworms chew through plant stems at the base. They primarily feed on roots and foliage of young plants, and will even cut off the plant from underneath the soil. In most cases, entire plants will be destroyed; they do a lot of damage in no time at all. Even if only the bottom of the plant is destroyed, the top will often shrivel and die.

Hand pick. Go out at night with a flashlight and gloves. Pick off the cutworms and drop into soapy water; repeating this every few nights.

Note: Apply an insecticide late in the afternoon for best control

How to start commercial Bee keeping in Kenya

Diseases That affect Tree Tomato (Tamarillo)

Powdery Mildew

Infection is characterized by the development of gray-white powdery growth majorly on leaves and stems, which causes them to become distorted.

The plant may eventually wilt as disease severity increases.

Spray RANSOM 600WP 15g/20l or DISCOVERY 400SC 10ml/20l or DUCASSE 250EC 20ml/20l

Blight

Initial infection occurs in older leaves with concentric dark brown spots developing on the leaves. As infection advances, infected leaves turn yellow and fall off. On stems, spots without clear contours are seen. The lesions enlarge as severity increases.

Spray EXEMPO CURVE 250SC 15ml/20l or FORTRESS GOLD 40g/20l or MEGAPRODE LOCK 525WP 15g/20l

Mosaic

This is a viral disease, and the virus is mechanically transmitted and also spread by several species of aphids in non-persistent mode.

Attacked leaves have reduced size and patches of dark-green tissue alternating with yellow-green. Generally, the plant becomes stunted and the quality of fruits is greatly reduced.

Control aphids (vectors) with KINGCODE ELITE 50EC 10ml/20l or PENTAGON 50EC 10ml/20l or PRESENTO 200SP 5g/20l

 

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keep bees if you want 100% production in Avocados

When you think of what bees produce, you probably think of honey. But bees also indirectly produce one-third of the common fruits and vegetables we eat, via pollination. Getting good crops of avocados in Kenya is not always easy, and pollination is part of the problem. Avocado growers find it hard to provide a regular supply of fruit because the trees only give a good crop every second year. However, if we all kept bees, avocado production can increase tremendously, below is an explanation on why bees are necessary.

While other fruits have simple ways of flowering and self pollination, avocados are different. Each avocado tree can be covered by almost hundreds of thousands of tiny flowers. Flowering process is complex and generally occurs over a two-day period. Under normal climatic conditions, the flower first opens in the female stage, when the stigma (the female part of the flower) is receptive. The flower closes overnight and on the second day the male stage occurs when the pollen is shed. Overlap between male and female phases may also occur under certain climatic conditions. Due to the difference in timing of the female and male stages, therefore, a means of transferring pollen from an individual flower to another flower (within the same tree or adjacent trees) is required. The avocado flower, therefore, requires a vector to effect pollination, which is a necessary first step in the process of fruit set. A vector is an external agent that is capable of causing the transfer of pollen grains from the anthers (the pollen bearing male part of the flower) to the stigma. Numerous pollen grains need to be deposited onto the individual stigmas for the avocado tree to have the potential for a good crop. The avocado flower is adapted to visitation by most flying insects as is evident by its open morphology and the easy access to the nectar. Therefore, flies, wasps, honey bees, stingless bees, bumblebees and other insects are potential pollinators of the avocado flower. To date, the honey bee has been the only commercially introduced pollinator in avocado orchards.

Why You Should Buy Your Seedling From Certified Nursery Operators

Why you Should Plant Different Cultivars (Hass and Fuerte avocados)

Avocados flowers are pollinated by insects, so growers bring honey bee hives into the orchard in the flowering season. Most avocado orchards have two different cultivars so that, when some trees have flowers at the female stage, other trees have male flowers. This means the bees need to collect pollen from male flowers of one cultivar (called the polleniser) and transfer it to females of another cultivar.

Avocado trees may have hundreds of thousands of flowers, but for some reason, not many of them produce fruit.

Preparation of Bees

For a hive to be able to adequately pollinate fruit blossom, it must be above certain strength in bee numbers. It is fundamentally difficult to build a population of honey bees during cool conditions, particularly if there are no naturally occurring sources of pollen and nectar. Thus to have healthy bees early in the season, for avocados pollination, the preparation and management of bees should be a major priority between march and June.

Attractiveness, Nutritional Value Of Pollen And Nectar

Honey bees visit both female- and male-stage avocado flowers. Usually, they collect nectar from both flower stages and pollen from the male stage. However, they sometimes collect pollen only and will not visit the female flowers. The attractiveness of the avocado flower to honey bees is low, in comparison to the flowers of numerous species that may be in bloom simultaneously, such as various citrus species and species. In many cases, foraging honey bees from hives that were placed in the orchard for pollination
purposes abandon the avocado flowers in favor of competing bloom. It is quite evident, therefore, that the avocado flowers are not as well adapted to supply the honey bees? needs, when compared to the flowers of many other species.

Not Just for Money; Why you Must Plant an Avocado Tree

Availability Of Bees For Pollination

Avocado blossom coincides with a number of nectar-producing flowering eucalyptus species that have the potential to provide alternative economic gains for the beekeeper in the form of honey crops.

Any serious avocado farmer who wants to make good money must  keep bees. The bees not only help in increasing production, sweetness and size of fruits but also produce pure organic honey every three months.

 

 

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Ultimate guide for beans farming in Kenya

Beans farming in Kenya is not as common as maize. However, it is one of the common grown crops in Kenya. In fact, it is often inter-cropped with the main crop for maximum absorption of nutrients by both plants. Our guide will help interested parties, both farmers and traders to have a clear mind on beans farming and how they can get money as far as beans are concerned.

Varieties of beans grown in Kenya

Beans popularity in Kenya may be due to the fact that bean recipes are numerous and beans are consumed almost with everything and contain quite a considerable amount of protein. Before venturing into beans farming, it is advisable to look at the different varieties available. If a farmer knows the different types of beans he will be able to choose the best based on its performance. Below are the several varieties;

  • Rosecoco beans Kenya
  • Mwezi moja beans
  • Chelalang beans
  • Mwitemania beans

Do your research well as a farmer and identify which variety does well in your area and guarantees high yields.

Yield per Acre of Beans

The hybrid varieties nowadays are very impressive and has a high yield compared to the traditional varieties. Most of the improved varieties produce about 20 pods for each plant, which translate to about 25, 90 kg bags per acre. Notably, this crop is high yielding when all the conditions are optimal.

Dry beans market

Beans are source of proteins which makes Kenya depend highly on them. The market for beans is overwhelming, both locally and international. Depending on quality and type of beans, the prices per 90 kg bag of beans ranges between Ksh 7,000 and Ksh 12,000. Particularly, beans fetch better prices when it is not harvesting period. Some varieties are also more expensive than others. The rose coco and kidney beans, for instance, are a bit pricey compared to the other varieties which are available in large quantities. Beans with a high supply across the country will fetch a lower price compared to those that thrive in specific areas. Irrespective of the type of beans, the market for beans is always there and since it’s a grain, you can store it and sell when the prices are high.

Price of beans in Kenya

Just like any other agricultural product, prices for beans fluctuate depending on a number of factors including demand and supply. The crop will tend to be expensive when they are in high demand, which is often around planting time when farmers need seeds for planting, and also during periods with no new crops. The cost may also depend on the region you are in and when you are buying or selling. So different areas in Kenya register varying prices of beans. Averagely, beans prices in Kenya range from Kshs. 7,000 to Kshs. 12,000 in major towns of

Kenya from low to high seasons. The best thing to do when scouting for better rates is to check the indices often provided by trading companies and the government on the prices of beans in major towns including Eldoret, Nakuru, Kisumu, Nairobi, and Mombasa. It is not suprising that each town could register a different price for the same variety of beans. This is because different factors play out when determining the prices.

Beans production

It is always good to have a projection before embarking on planting the crop. This is where you consider farming as a business and have a clear business plan. You will need to have a structured plan on what to expect through the farming period and how to counter different eventualities. Your projections against the real data will give a vivid picture of whether or not to proceed with the venture. Apart from this, knowing exactly what to do is necessary. Below are some tips that might help you with your business plaa;

  • Know the appropriate beans planting season in Kenya
  • Choose the best beans varieties in your area
  • Consider ideal ecological requirements – This includes temperatures of about 20 to 25 degrees, altitude of between 1,000 m to 2,100 m above sea level, rainfall of between 900 mm to 1,200 mm per year and a soil pH of 6.5 to 7.5

Although the market for beans is always there and appealing, beans farming is not an easy task especially if you are to do it commercially. However, it is always possible to register good yields if you do it right and follow the above steps. You also need to have achievable goals.

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Why You Should Buy Your Seedling From Certified Nursery Operators

nursery mkulima wa nyeri farm

The fruit tree nursery certification scheme implemented by the Kenya Ministry of Agriculture has been promoted to enhance the supply of high quality fruit tree planting materials and reduce the number of dubious seedling market players. Inquire if your seller is a certified nursery operator under KEPHIS.

With the extensive reforestation efforts by the public and private sectors to cope with increasing fruit demands and address shortages of timber supply in Kenya  there is a strong increased in demand for seedlings of fruit and timber tree species.

A major disadvantage of not being a certified nursery operator is the fact that those nursery operators are barred from bidding for county government procurement contracts. Nursery operators in Mt Kenya region have stated that accreditation has resulted in increased sales because they have been able to participate in county government contracts that procure fruit seedlings in mass quantities (especially hass avocados and macadamia). A major advantage in the accreditation process is the prioritization of accredited nurseries in the seedling procurement of the region.

Not Just for Money; Why you Must Plant an Avocado Tree

Mt Kenya Nursery operators states that the only disadvantage of being accredited is the pressure on maintaining quality standards. Buyers expect seedlings from accredited nurseries to be of superior health and the most suitable varieties. On the part of buyers this is advantageous because they are able to put pressure on the nursery operators to only produce and sell high quality planting materials. The advantages experienced by nursery operators and the pressures by private buyers on them as well as the governments’ policy to procure seedlings only from accredited nurseries are all factors that persuade the fruit tree nurseries to adhere to the nursery accreditation system.

Opportunities for Certified Nursery operators

Macadamia from Certified Nursery operator
Macadamia seedlings at Oxfarm

There are numerous opportunities for nursery operators who are accredited. One is the fact that their nurseries are posted and advertised by KEPHIS on their records which increases their reach to customers (government and private) who may want to buy seedlings from their nurseries.

Individuals and corporations who come to the KEPHIS for assistance on planting fruit trees are constantly referred to accredited fruit tree nurseries when seeking seedlings to buy, which also enhances the opportunities for accredited nurseries. Other opportunities such as scions and seedlings given for free or sold at minimal cost to nursery operators by government, were also given exclusively to accredited nursery operators.

keep bees if you want 100% production in Avocados

Views of Mt Kenya Nursery Operators

Mt Kenya Accredited nursery operators have the view that the government should enhance  the accreditation scheme through improving the market for their seedlings. One way to achieve this is through educating seedling buyers about the advantages of buying seedlings from accredited nurseries only because of quality assurance.

They also suggest that there be established a model nursery by government alongside KALRO that would promote learning and entice other nursery operators to join the accreditation scheme. Mr Dickson Kahuro, Mt Kenya nursery Operators chairman suggests that since they help in increasing forest cover and fighting non communicable diseases through fruit planting, there be increased support such as handing out planting materials, fertilizers and pesticides for free as ways to persuade nurseries to subject themselves for accreditation.