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Do you have trouble with pests and Diseases in your Fruit Farm?

There is nothing satisfying like the taste of a fruit straight from the garden. To add to that satisfaction knowing that the fruit is organically grown or is free from pesticides. The commercial fruit farmers in Kenya are more worried of the earnings they would get. This article recommends pest and disease control through the use of good practice, resistant varieties and low toxicity environmentally friendly products.

Pest and Disease Control in Fruit

The organic gardening philosophy is to let nature take its course, for all organisms to live in balance and therefore accept a level of pest and disease damage.

However most gardeners want to harvest good crops relatively free of pests and diseases, grown in a safe and environmentally sustainable manner.

This article guides the home farmer to methods of pest and disease control that best suits their needs, taking into account –

  • Good yields, relatively free of pests and diseases.
  • Using best farm practices to minimize pests and diseases.
  • Using only safe environmentally friendly products.
  • Using products that are commonly available in home garden size packs and are legally registered for the purpose stated.

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Reducing Pest & Diseases

Using good basic farming practices to minimize pests and diseases is common to all farmers, whether conventional or organic. In simple terms—providing the best growing conditions to ensure a strong healthy crop.

The following are the simple basics –

  • In heavy soils, raise the planting area above the surrounding soil to ensure good drainage.
  • Add lots of compost and work into the soil.
  • Mulching with compost, grass clippings (free from any spray residue), or straw holds in moisture and improves soil structure.
  • Provide adequate balanced feeding—sheep manure pellets or a fruit tree fertiliser.
  • Provide good deep watering in dry periods.
  • Practice good farm hygiene by removing all diseased leaves and plants.

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Using pests and Diseases Resistant Varieties

While a few traditional varieties may be disease resistance, there are a range of modern varieties that are better. For example, the new grafted hass avocados and grafted tree tomatoes are resistant to many diseases. Using disease resistant varieties will ensure better crops and greatly minimize the need to use fungicides. We can assist you know the best varieties that are best suited to your area and resistant to disease.

Using Biological Controls

Biological control involves using another living organism to attack the bad one. This is becoming common with commercial growers, but these organisms are not available to home farmers.

What can be done however is to endeavor to use only pesticides that are soft on desirable insects such as bees, ladybirds and predator mites.

Using Pesticides

If good farming practices are followed and disease resistant varieties used, the use of pesticides can be minimized.

There is a range of  very low toxicity, environmentally friendly pesticides available to home gardeners. Also, be aware that some pesticides are toxic—both chemical and natural organic. Being natural organic doesn’t necessarily make it safe.

Prevention is better than cure. Once you have gained experience and are aware of what pests and/or diseases attack which crops, you will be able to anticipate and spray at the first sign, which is more effective and minimizes pesticide use.

NB: Follow recommended spray programmes for each type of fruit, especially the early season preventative sprays

Always read the label

  • The label is a legal document for registered pesticides.
  • Take normal precautions when handling concentrates during mixing.
  • Wash hands thoroughly after using.
  • Store out of reach of children.

Which Pesticides should I use?

Fruits are susceptible to attack from a greater range of pests and diseases than vegetables.

There are also a number of complicating issues –

  • Different pests and diseases attack different fruits.
  • Most pesticides are only approved for use on some fruits.
  • There is also significant variation in the effectiveness of pesticides.
  • Withholding periods also vary between pesticides and between different fruits.

There are generally three choices for which type of pesticide you can use — ‘organic’, ‘environmentally friendly’ or other pesticides approved for use.

Pesticides vary greatly in effectiveness. While organic pesticides are usually safer (but not always) they are generally less effective.

Synthetic pesticides approved for home farming use are very low in toxicity compared to commercially available pesticides. So much so, that they are often less toxic and more environmentally friendly than an organic equivalent.

Withholding Period

Agriculture and Food Authority has set withholding periods for each pesticide, and particular crop.  The withholding period is the period that must elapse between spraying and harvesting, and is on the label of each product. Most pesticides have withholding periods of 3 to 14 days. Always check the label.

 

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What are the key pros and cons of using pesticides in our Farms?

Kenyans have now adopted use of pesticides and herbicides in the recent times. Pesticides are a mix of chemicals that are widely used on plants and crops to prevent damaging insects and animals from destroying them. The introduction of pesticides came around during the Industrial Age and completely changed the agricultural industry. They have created immense benefits and streamlined the harvesting process, however they also have had some significant negative damages to our health and environment. Let’s discover how these frequently used chemicals benefit and effect us by looking at all of the pros and cons associated.

Advantages of Pesticides

More Plentiful Harvest

Unwanted pests like mice and insects eat plants at their early stages and destroy their chances of producing fruits or vegetables. They also come in an contaminate entire plants that have already bloomed, which still renders them useless. They helps to keep all of these destructive pests away from crops, which results in more plants surviving and a larger harvest.

Very Easily Available

All types of pesticides are available in stores around the world and relatively affordable prices. This makes it a great way for people to simply protect their own personal gardens and plants from intrusive little critters.

Weeds Out The Weeds

Another huge benefit of pesticides is that they also take out pesky plants, like weeds. Weeds grow in gardens and fields and take up precious soil space, drink the water meant for the other crops, and can choke out the root systems of them as well.

Lowers The Cost Of Food

Farmers typically include the cost of their losses into the price of the food that they sell to the supermarkets. This cost is then transferred down to the consumer. Losses are much less significant with the use of pesticides.

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Major Disadvantages of Pesticides

Health Concerns

The mix of chemicals that are in pesticides are not safe for human ingestion, but they are still sprayed onto the food that we eat. This raises some major concerns about the health and safety of pesticide use.

Harms Animals and the Environment

Pesticides are designed and made to kill living things, which makes them dangerous to the things that they are not intended to kill. Many animals are killed from consuming plants that have been sprayed. Other types of plants, like grass and flowers, are also greatly affected by the use of pesticides.

Worse For Children

It is highly recommended to not use pesticides in any area that a child will be playing or present frequently. This is because their vital organs are still developing, which causes them to breathe at a faster rate than adults, thus breathing in more of the pesticides. They are also much closer to the ground, which is where the chemicals and danger are.

Home Use Is Not Recommended

One of the most common places that they are used is the residential home. People assume that since they are sold, they are safe. This is not true at all. The effects of pesticides can harm pets, kill good insects and animals that you need around your home, as well as harm your children’s health.

They Build A Resistance

Just like other living things, pests can build up a resistance to the chemicals that are used in the pesticides. This means that you would eventually have to begin using more and more of the product, making it even more dangerous.

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Access To Poison Is Not Always Good

Pesticides are poison, not only to insects and pests, but to other warm blooded animals such as dogs and humans. A person can go to the store and buy these poisons, and use them on many different things that they are not intended for. Every year 7 people die from a poisoning associated with pesticides.

Facts about Pesticides

  • Scientists say that there is a link between mental illness and long term exposure to pesticides. They are saying that this is the cause of many farmer suicides.
  • Those that have been deemed unsafe remain in the soil and plants for many years, even after they are not used any longer.
  • There are many different types of pesticides, each targeting a specific groups of pest. They include rodenticides, fungicides, and herbicides.
  • The production of crops increase nearly 30 percent when they are used.

If you  can grow plants organically, then that is the best way to go!! In addition, contact us if you need any type of fruit seedlings!

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How to control various soil diseases in our farms

Fighting soil diseases in our shamba can be a nightmare at times. With our tips, you can learn how to detect problems early and keep them out of your shamba.

Just like any other living organism, soil is susceptible to viruses, harmful fungi and bad bacteria, particularly when its out of balance. If in any case the soil in your farm is infected by the diseases below, your entire crops might be affected and it might also be very hard to fight them. The most important thing in keeping your soil and crops healthy is through protection and prevention. You can also use the tips below to detect and prevent diseases even if your farm doesn’t have them currently.

Soil diseases: Damping-Off

Soil diseases
Plants affected by Damping off soil disease

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Its a fungus disease that mostly affects spinach, beets, low-growing seedlings, , chard, and lettuce. Damping-off typically attacks young plants, but can also affect germinating seeds, preventing germination from happening at all.

To prevent it, try Growing in high-quality soil with good drainage as it is one of the best way to prevent damping-off. As for seedlings, thin young plants to create better airflow, and don’t over water. Consider planting into sterilized soil or companion planting with garlic and chamomile, which have been known to help reduce the fungus. Once you have damping-off, lighten up on watering, preferably using a mister. Thin young plants and move them to a warmer area to encourage more rapid seed growth.

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Soil Diseases: Verticillium Wilt

It’s a type of fungus. Crops affected include strawberries, potatoes, peppers, tomatoes and eggplant. Symptoms include leaves wilting and dying, typically from the soil upward.

To prevent it you can purchase wilt-resistant seeds, but also check any plants you buy for wilt, and never transplant a wilting plant into your garden. Verticillium wilt is very difficult to get rid of, though healthy, well drained soil will help. Soil polarization has been shown to reduce occurrences.

Soil Diseases: Downy Mildew

Downy mildew is caused by fungus. Affected crops include squash, cucumbers and other cucurbits; basil; grapes. Its symptoms may include; tiny yellow spots appear on leaves in early to late summer, killing the leaf canopy and making the fruit vulnerable to sun scorch.

How to Prevent It: Buy seeds resistant to downy mildew, and if irrigating, irrigate from below to keep the leaves as dry as possible. Rotate crop families every season, and cover the transplanted crops with row cover if you’ve experienced downy mildew in the past. There has been some success ridding downy mildew with bio-fungicides. We recommend farmers to dilute solution of copper spray to reduce the spread of the disease.

Soil Diseases: Powdery Mildew

Its caused by fungus. Crops Affected may include, squash, cucumbers and other cucurbits; roses; grapes.

Symptoms: Yellowish spots appear on the top of leaves and purple spots appear below, most commonly in warm, wet weather.

To prevent it, as with downy mildew, buy resistant seeds and irrigate from below to prevent creating a culture where powdery mildew can thrive. Row cover can help prevent bugs from transferring disease from plant to plant. Rotate crops each season.

This disease spreads easily among plants, so consider tearing out any affected plants and throwing them away. (Do not compost to avoid risk of spreading the disease.) Early applications of milk spray has also been shown to help prevent powdery mildew.

Soil Diseases: Bacterial Wilt

Its caused by a bacteria. The Crops Affected may include passion fruits, cucurbits, especially muskmelons and cucumbers. Symptoms include leaves wilting on the stems.To prevent it you can grow cultivars that are resistant to this wilt, but the best prevention is using row cover to keep cucumber beetles and other bugs from transmitting the disease.

There is no easy way to get rid of bacterial wilt. If you see the infection, remove the plants from your garden, especially passion fruits.

Soil Diseases: Foliar Nematodes

Affected Crops may include strawberries; ornamental crops, including asters, primrose, violets, ferns and dahlias. Symptoms might include yellow patches appear on leaves and may turn brown or black. Shoots may also become stunted and produce deformed flowers.To prevent it, Plant resistant cultivars, and always plant in well-drained soil with good air circulation. Clean up plant debris every season. Irrigate from beneath the plant if possible. How to Get Rid Of It: Destroy any affected parts of the plant. Thin plants if possible for better air circulation.

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Soil Diseases: Root Knot Nematodes

soil deseases
Carrot affected by Rot Knot Nematodes

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It’s a nematode disease which affects thousands of crops , including corn, tomatoes, lettuce and potatoes. Its symptoms include wilting or yellowing plants; stunted fruits and flowers. To prevent root Knot nematodes plant resistant varieties when available. Marigolds, used as a cover crop and tilled into the soil at the end of the season, have been shown to help prevent the disease. Healthy soil full of organic matter will likewise help crowd out the nematodes.

Neem oil has been shown to help rid a garden of nematodes, though they are difficult to eradicate in the current season. Add compost and organic matter to soil at the end of the season to improve soil quality for the next year.

Soil Diseases: Bacterial Soft Rot

Its caused by bacteria. The affected crops include corn, potatoes, tomatoes, beans, carrots, sweet potatoes and onions. Bacterial soft rot primarily attacks tubers, rhizomes, bulbs and corms, creating black spots, yellow spots, a rancid odor and rot. It can also affect already harvested crops, including potatoes and carrots. To prevent it, plant in well-drained soils with good circulation. Keep areas around the garden, storage houses and greenhouse free of plant debris. There are no known remedies to get rid of it. Dispose of affected plants, and do not bury or compost.

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Soil diseases: Mosaic Virus

Its kind of a virus that affects potatoes, squash, tomatoes, cucumbers. This disease can affect both the leaves and fruit, appearing often as leaves with mottled yellow patches or stunted growth of the fruit with both green and yellow spots. To prevent it find mosaic-virus-resistant seeds, and shielding the plants with row cover helps prevent bugs from bringing the disease. In addition, always rotate crops. For you to get rid of it, tear up the plants and throw them away. Mosaic virus is highly contagious and can destroy a crop and spread to others.

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Soil Diseases: Scab

Its type of a fungus that affects mostly tuber crops such as such as potatoes, beets and radishes. This disease doesn’t usually affect the yield of a crop, but can blemish crops with small, rough, corky spots making them unsuitable for sale. To prevent it, lowering the soil pH to below 5.2 can help reduce the chances of scab. Purchase disease-free seed when available.

Because scab is generally discovered upon harvest, it’s hard to detect. Keep soil evenly moist and rotate crops every season to avoid the fungus.

Thank you for finding time to read this article. For more information about farming and how to control pests and diseases kindly contact us.