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How to manage soil to prevent insects and pests

Followers of organic farming have for long promoted the idea that the likelihood of pest outbreaks is reduced if we practice organic farming, which includes establishing and maintaining healthy soil. Recent researches show that plant resistance to insects and diseases is linked to optimal, chemical, physical and biological properties of soil.

In farming, improvement of soil fertility is achieved through rotations, cover cropping and the application of animal and plant materials. Below are some of the main elements that can help reduce pest issues.

Related: Shade nets and why they are important in today’s farming

Too Much Nitrogen

Vigorous, healthy plants that grow quickly are in a position to withstand pest damage.\However, over-fertilizing crops can actually increase pest problems. Research has shown that increasing soluble nitrogen levels in plants can decrease their resistance to pests, resulting in higher pest density and crop damage. For example, increased nitrogen fertilizer rates have been associated with large increases in numbers of aphids and mites.

Soil Food Web

Soils that are healthy and rich in organic matter and with a biologically diverse food web support plant health and nutrition better than soils low in organic matter and soil microbial diversity. In addition to supporting vigorous growth of plants better able to tolerate pest damage, healthy soils also contain many natural enemies of insect pests, including insect predators, pathogenic fungi, and insect-parasitic nematodes.

Different Organisms in soil

Soil and plant health are affected by soil’s physical condition, water holding capacity, level of compaction and drainage. The chemical aspects of soils (pH, salt content, availability of nutrients, etc.) can affect crop health and pest susceptibility.

There are several ways of improving soil health. In general, general, the focus should be on increasing soil organic matter to improve soil structure and to provide food for soil microbes that in turn make nutrients available to plants. Farmers should always rotate with cover and green manure crops in order to increase soil organic matter. Manure and compost can also be added to supply organic matter and to provide supplemental nutrients.

Related: Why you shouldn’t Worry about hass avocado Market

Cultivation

Cultivation and tillage can be beneficial because it disrupts the life cycle of insect pests and can expose pests to predators and the elements. However, excessive tillage can accelerate the decomposition of soil organic matter and deplete the food source that soil microorganisms depend on, decreasing their ability to disrupt pests. Excessive and untimely tillage can also contribute to soil erosion.

Mulching

Whether organic or synthetic, mulches, can help reduce insect pest problems. Plastic mulch is often used to speed early season crop growth that makes plants better able to tolerate insect feeding. Reflective mulch repels thrips and aphids and can reduce the incidence of insect transmitted virus diseases in vegetable crops.

Research has shown that straw mulch can suppress early season pests activity by creating a micro-environment that increases the number of predators like ground beetles, lady beetles, and lacewings. Mulching with straw can also reduce the pests ability to locate  plants.

Related: Reasons Why You Should Start an Agribusiness in Kenya Today

Cleanliness

Health measures can be used to help prevent the introduction of pests onto the farm, to prevent the movement of pests within the farm, and to remove overwintering or breeding sites for pests on the farm. Here is what you should do to ensure sanitation is maintained.

  • Always try and plant pest-free plants; inspect plants brought onto the farm to prevent the introduction of pests.
  • Infested plants should be removed and composted, buried, or otherwise destroyed as soon as possible.
  • Removal of weeds and natural vegetation bordering crops may eliminate alternate hosts for some insect pests. Note that these areas may also harbor natural enemies; therefore, the farmer must carefully assess the potential threat from pest insects in these areas before mowing or removing any plants.
  • When working in an infested area, clean equipment and clothes before going to another area of the farm. Pests such as whiteflies and spider mites can be carried on workers’ clothes and spread to new areas.
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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.

Read: Improving banana farming in Kenya through Value Addition

Soil Diseases: Verticillium Wilt

It’s a typr 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 solarization 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.

Read: 8 types of agribusiness ideas to think about in 2018

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.

Read: Reasons Why You Should Start an Agribusiness in Kenya Today

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.

Read: How Many Years Will It Take To Get Returns On Invested Capital Under Hass Avocado Farming

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.

 

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Reasons Why You Should Start an Agribusiness in Kenya Today

When most people think of agriculture in Kenya, images of poor and overworked farmers with crude tools on a rural farm readily come to mind. Many, especially young Kenyans, still think that agribusiness is a poor man’s occupation. In Butere Mumias, Tetu, Nyeri, Mavoloni, Machakos or even in Ololunga Narok county everybody wants a white-collar office job in Nairobi city. Agribusiness is hardly on anyone’s mind.

Did you know that Kenya sits on an agribusiness goldmine but most people just don’t see it? If you’re one of the blind, allow me to open your eyes with a few exciting facts you need to know about agribusiness in Kenya. Did you know that since 2009, investors in the USA, Europe, Middle East and Asia have been buying and leasing millions of hectares of Kenyan land for agricultural purposes? Many people may not know it but there’s a trend of serious land grabbing by foreign interests for Kenyan land.

Did you know that Foreign Direct Investment in Kenyan agribusiness was $10 billion in 2010 and is projected to reach $45 billion by 2020? Agriculture is taking a huge leap in Kenya and investors want a piece of the action too. Did you know that Kenya’s agribusiness industry will be worth $1 trillion by 2030! That’s huge! If this projection by the UN comes true, agribusiness will become the ‘new oil’ in Kenya!

In the light of all these facts, how come the rich and wealthy folks are investing in Kenya’s agribusiness industry while the majority of Kenyans are largely ignorant about the amazing potentials of agriculture? Below are five reasons why agribusiness is the biggest opportunity right now in Kenya.

Kenya Has Rich And Abundant Agricultural Land

Agribusiness is key in achieving food security in Kenya
Hass avocado at Mkulima Wa Nyeri Farm

Sub-Saharan Africa according to world bank has almost 50% of the world’s fertile and uncultivated land. The size: over 200 million hectares! This is why the continent is now widely considered to be the future breadbasket of the world. It is this huge abundance of land resources that gives Kenya the strategic potential to feed the world!

Most of Kenya’s agricultural land lies in the tropical rain forest belt, which receives a favorable amount of rainfall and sunlight all year round. As a direct consequence, more than 80 percent of food crops consumed across the world can be produced in Kenya.

Interestingly, a large proportion of Kenya’s agricultural land is located in the rural areas. That’s why they’re often cheap to buy or lease. On the average, one hectare of land (10,000sqm) can be leased for as low as Ksh100 per year (depending on the location). This makes it one of the best land bargains you can find anywhere in the world!

Read: Should I quit my job and start farming?

Kenya Has A Ready Market And High Demand For Agricultural Produce

Agribusiness is key
people must feed everyday! think Agribusiness

Agribusiness is one of the best business opportunities in the world because food never goes out of fashion. People must eat food everyday!

Currently, Kenya’s population is just over 45 million people. At its current growth rate, the country’s population is expected to reach 100 million by 2050. Now and in the future, Kenya will always have a lot of mouths to feed.

Kenya currently spends billions of dollars every year to import grains, flour and all kinds of finished and semi-finished foods which it can produce locally. There is a huge opportunity for entrepreneurs who can provide cheaper and locally-grown alternatives to the food that Kenya imports.

It’s not just the food industry that depends on agribusiness. Several other industries, especially the manufacturing and processing industries, depend on agribusiness for a wide range of raw materials. As Kenya’s economy continue to grow, the demand for raw materials will surely increase and create more interesting opportunities for agribusiness on the continent.

Read: Why you should have a working business plan for you to succeed in commercial maize farming

 Improved Varieties Are Changing The Perceptions

Agribusiness in Kenya has suffered through the years because of its poor yields and crude farm practices. Most of the crops cultivated in Kenya  are very little and are often very prone to pests, diseases and drought. As a result, most Kenyan farmers used to work very hard but have very little to show for all their hard work during harvest time.

However, due to advances in crop/animal science and technology, it is now possible to harvest more food per hectare than ever before in Kenya’s history. There are now improved crop and animal varieties that mature earlier, require less resources, and are less susceptible to pest attacks, diseases and drought. Across Kenya, these improved varieties are increasing yields by as much as 400 percent! For example hass avocados, grafted tree tomatoes.

There are now improved and locally-adapted varieties of maize, cassava, millet, rice, sorghum, beans, sweet potato, cowpea, groundnut, soybean, pigeon pea, banana, durum wheat, and bread wheat.

There are also several local and international organisations that are focused on supporting Kenyan farmers with improved seedlings and support.

Agribusiness Is Very Ascendable. Start With What You Have!

Whether you own one plot of land or 10,000 hectares, agribusiness is one of few business opportunities that allow you to start on any scale, with whatever you have!

Entrepreneurs like Mkulima WA Nyeri started his agribusiness in 2015 in his backyard with just four 500 tree tomato trees. Today, he owns a 3-acre tree tomato farm and fruit nurseries and he is a major supplier to a company in Mega, Nyeri County.

The opportunity to start small means that people with little capital can become part of Kenya’s multi-billion-dollar agribusiness industry. Because of the guaranteed demand for agricultural produce, that small vegetable or poultry farm in your backyard could just become a huge business tomorrow.

Every evidence shows that you don’t have to be a wealthy investor with millions of shillings in the bank or a highly-educated person to start a business in agriculture in Kenya. You can start where you are and use what you have, and grow from there. You can start your agribusiness journey in your home backyard or do it on a part-time basis with your day job. It’s very flexible that way!

Read: How Many Years Will It Take To Get Returns On Invested Capital Under Hass Avocado Farming

Agribusiness Is a Huge Job Creator in Kenya

Agribusiness is one of the most effective ways to create jobs and empower millions of Kenyans. At present, up to 60 per cent of the labor force in Kenya is employed in the agribusiness industry. Agribusiness remains a top employer of labor in many Kenyan counties.

The value chain in the agribusiness industry, from food production, processing and marketing provide huge opportunities for employment and entrepreneurship. So, if you’re looking to start a business or invest in an industry that makes a significant social impact, provides jobs and creates sustainable wealth, agribusiness is surely the way to go!

Read: Passion Fruits prices rise due to low production

Interested in Kenyan Agribusiness? Here’s a top tip!

If you’re excited about the potentials of agribusiness in Kenya and would like to explore it much further, we have just the right resource for you! Just head over to our offices and you’ll learn about several ideas, opportunities and success stories that will surely amaze you.

Kenya is changing. You need to be a part of this big dream that’s finally coming true!

 

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Tips on how to get over 20Kgs/Tree from Tree-tomato farming

Tree tomato Fruit can be red or yellow; personally, I prefer the tangy red ones. The plants grow from seed to about 2m tall, long and leggy, and only fruit after they have formed several branches, usually after Year 2.

Related Content:The benefits of certified fruit seedlings

To get the most out of your tree tomato:

  • They only live for about 12 years, so always have a few young ones coming on to replace the old ones;
  • Tip cuttings will fruit sooner, and tend to produce a stronger, more compact bush;
  • In coastal and windy areas, it pays to shelter the trees, and cover them during a frost;
  • Don’t put them in your greenhouse; they grow better outside away from whitefly which covers them like snow otherwise;
  • Feed them like a tomato, with plenty of nitrogen and trace elements;
  • Pruning increases fruit size, so in summer trim some of those leggy growing branch ends back by 60cm.

Combine it all and you can harvest up to 20kg per plant – we have had a crate box full off one tree.

Two Deadly Enemies of Your Tree Tomato

Grafted tree tomato fruitsJust like citrus trees, tree-tomato will die if left to dry out, even if for only a day. In eastern areas you will have to irrigate all dry seasons with a drip line or hand water every few days. In the west, if you’re growing outside, your older plants will get through a few days of dry seasons winds but not many. Get the watering can out or you’ll lose your prized tree. Mulch the root zone to keep the moisture in.

Nematodes are tree-tomatoes worst enemy, they survive by feeding directly off the nutrients pumped through tree-tomatoes roots. They form galls that can reach up to an inch wide where they hide and reproduce, causing many symptoms that point to problems in infected plants’ transport systems. Yellowing plants, stunted growth and general decline are early symptoms, but unless your bed is heavily infected with nematodes, a large tree-tomato planting will only show these symptoms in a relative few plants. They typically appear in soils where tree-tomatoes and other root knot nematode host plants have been grown in the last three to five years, and populations increase the longer an area is used. If you suspect your tree-tomatoes plants have nematodes, start by digging up a particularly weak plant. Roots that have a lot of unusual knobby growths are infected with these parasites.

 

 

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Earn Ksh500,000 Per Acre/ Year by Growing Pawpaw

One acre under Pawpaw can hold 450 plants at a spacing of 3 by 3 Meters. Let’s now take an approximation of one pawpaw plant producing a minimum of 50 fruits sold at the farm at a price of KSh 25 per fruit. The gross returns per acre during the year will be 450X50X25 = 562500. The total cost of establishing such an orchard is approximately 100,000 with production expected only in the second year. From the second year onward, the plantation can offer returns of regarding KSh four 562,000 per annum with a little maintenance value of about KSh 60,000 giving a gross margin/income of about KSh 502,000 per acre/ year. The investment pays back in a very short time because the crop grows considerably quicker than most alternative fruits taking about 9-10months to mature.

Related Content: How to establish grafted purple passion Fruits Orchard

The pawpaw (fruit of genus Carica papaya) is a tropical plant typically grown in tropical climates. Pawpaws are general delicious fruits that are available all the year round in Kenya. The productive lifetime of a pawpaw plant is about 5 years. Thus, once you have established the plantation, financial gain can flow with very little effort provided you’ve got a prepared market. Pawpaw need warm to hot climates for growth and temperature vary from 21-30°C, and an altitude vary of 0-1600 m higher than water level, with annual downfall of about 1000mm that is equally distributed.

Pawpaw seeds are often directly planted into the farm at a rate of half-dozen seeds per hole then reduced to four plants per hole after germination, and step by step reduced the to 1 plant per hole after flowering so as to balance male and feminine flowers. Generally, pawpaw takes six months to flower and another 5 months to mature for harvesting. This makes a complete of eleven months. Thirty to a hundred and fifty fruits per tree are often attainable annually betting on the extent of management.

Related content: Why Hass Avocado is the new Cash Crop

For more information, visit our offices. If in need of seedlings, book now!!!

 

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Best Tips of Growing Grapes In Kenya

Grapes can be grown in the Kenya. This has been proven in Naivasha where they have been growing grapes since 2000. Grapes like terrain that is somewhat sloping so as not to lodge water and hurt the roots. Grapes grow best in areas with warm and dry climate and where sufficient irrigation is available. Places frequently by typhoon and continuous rain are least suitable. Growing conditions, however, vary depending on the variety. Most commercial vineyards are below 1,000 feet in elevation, some almost at sea level.

Muscadines variety are well adapted to the warm, humid conditions and therefore will grow well in all humid areas. Ripe grapes are sweet and juicy with a distinctive fruity flavour. Vigorous self fertile vine with medium sized (15-20mm), round golden-bronze fruit when ripe. It can set a small percentage of smaller seedless fruit. Highly disease resistant and should not require spraying making them ideal for coastal subtropical climates.

Growing grapes from seeds is not the ideal way of reproducing a grape vine as the genetics of a variety is not completely carried over by the seeds – in other words, if you plant a Concord seed, and you successfully get the seed to germinate, the chances are good that the new grape vine will not have all the true Concord characteristics! This is a very time consuming process as it can take up to three years to propagate a new grape vine from seeds. Another big problem with growing grapes from seeds is the fact that a very low percentage of the seeds will germinate. The grape seed is covered with a very tough seed coat that keeps the seed dormant until ideal conditions for germination.
Related Content: Earn Ksh500,000 Per Acre/ Year by Growing Pawpaw

Important factors to consider

Grapes fruits

Should you decide to grow grapes, several factors would have to be considered.

1. Location. As mentioned above, the local climate will determine which varieties would grow best in your area. Grapes vary in flavor, color, size and texture. Some are sweet and ideal for the table, others are best suited for jellies, juices and wines.

2. Sun. Grapes require full sun. If you don’t have a spot in your yard that’s sunny all day, find a place where it can at least receive the morning sun.

3. Air flow. Good air circulation helps to prevent funguses from attacking your vine. Find an area away from trees, tall brush or buildings that can block breezes from blowing into your vine.

The secret to growing very productive grapes is good pruning. It’s probably the most important and demanding task you’ll have to do in caring for your vines. Note that fruit is produced from the current season’s growth, which in turn grew from the previous season’s wood. So don’t be afraid to remove up to 90 percent of last season’s growth – your grapes will grow better because of it. Heavy pruning produces the best quality fruit, while light pruning results in large yields of poor quality. Also, if you want to produce bigger fruits, cut off every third bunch the moment they form so that more energy goes into developing the remaining fruits.

Related Content: Choosing an Irrigation System For your Fruit Farm

 

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Passion Fruit Farming In Kenya on the rise Again

The prospects of passion fruit farming in Kenya may change for the higher if plans to elevate the fruit into a significant farming crop are adopted by the Ministry of Agriculture.

This is once details emerged that Kenya’s production of the passion Fruit has been on the decline for the past decade within which no passion fruit exports visited Europe.

During a stakeholders’ forum for farmers, consumers and development partners, Fresh Produce Exporters Association of Kenya chairman Apollo Owuor said the country produced and exported passion fruit in massive scale within the 90’s and early 2000.

Related Post: How well-planned are you for tree fruit farming this season?

However, since 2003 it declined principally owing to pest management challenges a number of that contravened European markets’ strict tips on pesticides residue, with Kenya’s passion fruit reported to contain higher than acceptable limits.

In Addition, Mr. Owuor said that there haven’t been efforts to revive the trade since, partially as a result of passion fruit being listed as a minor farming crop by the Ministry of Agriculture thus it’s not within the government’s policy for priority support.

Passion Fruit is listed as a minor crop

Agriculture Food Authority Horticulture Crops Directorate head Zakayo Magara acknowledged that as a result of passion fruit being listed aboard a hundred different minor crops and little has been in advancing a policy to market and boost its cultivation.

In effect, the Council of Governors Agriculture Committee, depicted by Anne Koech, a county govt member accountable of agriculture in Kericho County, created a commitment to support the elevation of the crop to major crops standing in order that resources can be allotted to its development in counties appropriate for its cultivation.

She said county governments ought to likewise subsidize its seedlings purchase to boost production and additionally produce market linkages to contour selling.

Related post: Best Tips of Growing Grapes In Kenya

Research has shown that passion fruit will grow anyplace in Kenya owing to convenience of sorts for each hotter and colder climate – yellow passion for lower, hotter regions and therefore a lot of common purple selection for the upper cooler regions.

Experts at the stakeholders’ forum noted that there’s potential for Kenya to be a world leader in tropical juice production owing to its year-round convenience of tropical fruits like passion fruit, mangoes and pineapples, being a rustic that may grow these crops in turn.

Through passion fruit cultivation, farmers will observe better financial gain.

(Source: Brian Okinda, Seeds of Gold; Jan 27,2018)

We have already started preparing for the long rains, Book your seedlings today. Seedlings are delivered on a first-come basis.

 

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How To Grow Peaches And Nectarines

Peaches and Nectarines are within the scope of all to grow successfully in this Kenya, no matter where you live. The way in which you grow them can be varied according to climate, locality and position but they can be a real triumph and are generally hardier than is often realized.

The Peach and Nectarine tree flowers early – second only in this respect to the Apricot – and usually opens blossom from the end of March. For this reason, some protection is advisable so that the flowers do not become frosted and if this happens you may lose some or all of your crop. As far as the winter goes well they are usually quite frost tolerant whilst dormant and only extreme or prolonged cold temperatures will harm them.
They can be grown as bush trees in the open in more favorable counties, against a warm sunny wall as ‘fan trained’ and in containers. Or if you have a nice greenhouse, conservatory or sun lounge why not afford them some luxury? o

The best position

Is of course the most favorable one you can afford. Soil isn’t very critical as long as it has good drainage and I haven’t found PH to be particularly important. They resent poor drainage and heavy clay soils might be problematical overwinter as the ground gets so cold and wet. Under those conditions better to grow them in containers.
The more sunshine your tree gets the better the fruits will be – bigger, rosier, sweeter. The tree will revel in its position and ripen more wood to use as flower production for ever greater crops. Peach and Nectarine trees can be planted at any time of the year

Planting itself – best practices

Dig a hole large enough to take the roots. The root system can vary quite a lot in size according to variety, Rootstock and the land the tree has been grown on as well as the age of the tree. So, don’t dig the holes in advance, wait until you have the tree and can see what you have got to work with. The tree should be planted at a depth similar to that it was set at before on the Nursery; you can usually still see the soil mark on the stem and so use this as a guide. If you can’t maybe the trunk was washed by heavy rain or whatever then sue the grafting point as your guide. The graft is often clearly to be seen as a bulge or kink in the stem not far above the roots. It may still have wax or tree sealant on it as well. This grafting point should always be kept above the soil lebel so make sure it is sitting about 2” above the soil ideally. It should never be buried. The roots themselves should always have not less than 2” of soil over them.
Make sure the tree is firmed in well when you are satisfied with it, use the heel of your boot and press down repeatedly and firmly all around the circumference of the trunk. Peaches and Nectarines do not normally need much of a stake, if the position is an open one then insert a good tree stake of 48” length into the ground before planting. Tie to it with a rubber strap. Tree guards are a necessity where rabbits or deer may be a problem.

Pruning Bush trees

Immediately after planting, if the tree is a maiden, the main stem should be cut just above a bud at approximately 3 feet from the ground and any side shoots cut back to just 2 or 3 buds from the main stem. These young side shoots are called feathers, any that are closer to the ground than 2 feet should be removed.
Thereafter during subsequent seasons select a number of semi mature growths which should be pruned back by about a third each Spring. This encourages strong new growth which is what will bear the fruits next year.

Also Read: Amazing benefits of Plums

Pests and diseases

There is really only the one significant problem associated with Peach and Nectarine trees and that is Peach Leaf curl which can and will affect both Peach and Nectarine trees, but does not touch Apricots.
It is easily identifiable because the leaves twist, curl and ‘bubble’ and come out in rather alarming red blisters. Sometimes trees can be completely disfigured by it. It looks a lot worse than it is and the best remedy for infected trees is to remove all the affected foliage and destroy it. This can leave a tree almost denuded of foliage but don’t worry, it will quickly leaf again and the new foliage will be ‘clean’ and won’t become infected again that season.
There were effective control sprays for leaf curl but they have been removed, meaning there is only one precautionary measure available to gardeners wishing to avoid this disease. The fungal spores are spread by moisture droplets in the air. Therefore, if the tree is kept dry during the key period when these spores are active – which is very early spring just as the tree start to break dormancy – then the problem can largely be eliminated or at least reduced significantly. Bush trees of modest size, fans against a wall, and pot grown trees are fairly easily protected from rain during this essential period. Cover with a transparent material until the leaves are fully open, usually by May it can be removed and the period for infection has passed for another year. That is why trees grown in greenhouses or inside seldom get much if any leaf curl.
Aphids, greenfly and red spider mite may also attack Peach and Nectarine trees. Spray with soapy water, use biological controls, or buy a systemic insecticide or a so called ‘bug gun’ – all will provide effective treatment.

Pollination

There are no pollination issues with Peach and Nectarine at all as all varieties are self-fertile and lone trees will provide a good crop with no need for a pollinating partner. The only thing to remember is that trees grown under cover will need hand pollinating with a soft haired brush because there won’t be any flying insects around to do the job for you. Hand pollinating can also increase the yield employed outside, especially if the weather is inclement during flowering and insects may not be on the wing.

Thinning the fruits

This isn’t really a necessary practice unless you want to concentrate the trees energy into a lesser number of larger fruits. This of course has the effect of increased fruit size and the class of the fruit produced. It might be a consideration if your tree seems to be over producing because then you might end up with a lot of smaller fruit which may be no less enjoyable. For gorgeous big ripe fruits of peach and nectarine, remove every other fruit along the branch when about the size of an acorn, allowing the rest to develop to maximum magnificence. Remember that the tree may shed some fruits of its own accord, and this is especially true if it becomes dry at the roots during crop formation.

Also Read: How to establish grafted purple passion Fruits Orchard

 

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Common challenges to mango production in Kenya

Many farmers in Kenya invest in mango orchards. However, there are a number of production-related hindrances at farm level, including:

Limited access to good quality planting materials

-There is a general shortage of grafted planting materials of improved and higher yielding varieties in many areas. Farmers often use inferior seedlings obtained by germinating mango seeds from indigenous varieties. Such ungrafted trees take much longer to bear fruit. Whereas grafted trees begin to bear fruit within 3 to 4 years, ungrafted trees will take at least 5 years to bear fruit, depending on the growing conditions.

Pest and disease problems

Mangoes have many devastating pests and diseases, which can result in total yield loss. Major pests include the fruit fly (Bactrocera invadens), seed weevil (Sternochetus mangiferae) and mealy bugs (Rastrococcus invadens). Diseases like anthracnose and powdery mildew are common in almost all mango growing areas.

Poor orchard management –

In many areas, mango trees are left to grow so big that pest and disease management, harvesting and other field operations are difficult to implement. Except in big or commercial farms, mango trees are normally scattered around the gardens, ranging from 2 to 100 trees per household. This scattered nature makes mango a commonly neglected crop in terms of management, but becomes important only during the harvesting season.

Also Read: how to grow peaches and nectrines

Post-harvest losses

Fruit damage is a common problem as a result of poor pest and disease management and the poor harvesting practices. Also, a lot of fruit is lost after harvest, especially during the peak seasons due to the limited capacity to store and process fruit. This is further worsened by the poor roads and transport infrastructure to markets.

Limited returns from mango production

Mango is highly seasonal and harvest is only expected at certain times of the year

depending on the local conditions. During this time, most areas are harvesting and so the local markets are saturated and, therefore, offer very low prices, which may not even cover transportation costs.

For more information about mango farming in Kenya, visit our offices. In addition book your seedlings today!!

 

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Why Record Keeping is Important in Fruit Farming

 

Production record-keeping is an important task for any fruit or crop farm, whether small, medium or large.

Currently, government agencies, lenders, and insurance companies are requiring better and more accurate records. Not only bushels per acre, income and expenses, but also weather records are becoming increasingly necessary.

An important tool for any Fruit or crop production farming operation, regardless of size, is having and maintaining a recordkeeping system for crop production. A common question that often gets asked is why should I keep production records? There are several reasons as follows: keeping records meets the requirements of various farming regulations; complete and accurate records help demonstrate your protection of soil, water and other environmental resources; records will help you analyze the performance of your farm’s cropping system; records may provide liability protection in the event of a complaint or lawsuit concerning your farming operation; and complete records demonstrate conformance with regulations.

The Recordkeeping System for fruit Production is designed for recording pesticide applications, nutrient applications, manure applications, animal burial and composting, irrigation, employee training, and pesticide drift management plans.

Also Read: Why Hass Avocado is the new Cash Crop

Lenders and Insurance Need your records

From the business aspect of the operation, record keeping is needed for future analysis of production methods, cropping history, and decision making. Record keeping provides valuable information concerning what worked and what did not and possibly, the reasons why something did not turn out as planned. As we all know, the best production methods and hybrids can fail due to weather conditions. Keeping daily records of precipitation and high and low temperatures is easy to accomplish and you can have a fairly accurate weather station. A high/low thermometer, rain gauge, something to record them on, and about ten minutes a day is all that is needed.

One set of accurate records should be enough to satisfy all your needs. If you keep good records of production, expenses, income, and weather, you should have all the required information for any purpose, from crop insurance to lenders to your own needs. You should be able to make informed conclusions regarding the past and to plan for the future.

Good records lead to better decisions and hopefully higher returns.

For more information on recordkeeping for fruit or crop production, contact Oxfarm Organic Ltd, Extension horticulture educators for tree fruit Production.

Also Read: how to grow peaches and nectrines