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Why fruit farming?

A focus on Custard Apple

The rainy season is here, which tree should you plant? At times, making informed decisions on the type of tree to grow can be challenging. What will happen if the roots extend horizontally? Are they for shade or commercial purposes? Will they block sunlight from reaching your house make your house cold to unbearable levels? Do the growing conditions favor the growth of trees?

Commercial fruit trees are a long-term investment that requires one to make the right decisions when planning on what to grow, how and where to set up the orchard, and when to grow. Trees should be planted during the rainy season since they require a lot of water during the early growth stages. The moisture levels in the soil should be adequate before planting. On most occasions, especially in areas where irrigation water is limited, fruit seedlings should be planted when the evaporation rates are low, either in the morning or in the evening. In drier areas, the young plants should be mulched to reduce evaporation.

What should I grow?

Some of the fruits you should consider growing include oranges, lemons, macadamia, guava, tree tomato, apples, strawberry, grapes, Hass avocado, custard apple, and bananas.  

Will custard apples flourish?

Custard apples are sweet fruits with a high nutritional value. They are rich in magnesium, vitamin A and C, and have a low-fat content. Apart from retailing at premium prices, custard apples have a high demand in the local and export markets. For instance, 1 kilo of the fruits goes for between Kshs 120 to Kshs 150 when the demand is high and Kshs 80 during the off season.

The demand for custard apples has been rising due to their numerous health benefits and extensive use in desserts, savories, and salads. For instance, it’s recommended to those suffering from cancer and blood pressure. Besides, it enhances brain alertness, vision, detention, contains anti-cancerous properties, and boosts the immune system.

Custard apples are highly productive, especially when proper farm management practices are employed. For instance, the African Pride variety trees can produce an average of three to four bags each season. Grafted varieties produce fruits that can be harvested after every three to four months. With favorable growing conditions, each tree can produce between 50 to 70 fruits. The plants flourish in areas with moderate humidity, deep and well-drained soils, and a temperature range of between 20 – 30 degrees.

When space is not limited, farmers can grow several fruits in their gardens to boost their income. In Nyeri and Ukambani regions, for instance, one can grow custard apples, Fuerte and Hass avocados, mangoes, and strawberries.

Nurturing Custard Apple Trees

Custard apples are sensitive to frost and hence areas susceptible to such conditions should be avoided. Fertilizers should be applied every three to four months until the plant starts producing fruits. Regular application of manure is recommended. Although they do not require a lot of water, irrigation should be done regularly, especially in drier regions for optimum performance.

Take advantage of the rains and invest in fruit farming. OxfarmAg provides high-quality fruit seedlings and agronomy support to help farmers achieve success in fruit farming.

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How to make your custard apple farming agribusiness more profitable

Custard apple farming is a highly profitable agribusiness and an excellent way to supplement your income. It is attracting the attention of farmers in different parts of the country who are switching from traditional crops to high-value fruits. With a high demand, ready market, and premium prices locally and internationally, custard apple farming is what you should invest in. Here are tips that can help you earn more revenue from custard apple agribusiness.

Plant the right varieties

Various varieties flourish in Kenya, which include:

  • Hybrid
  • Washington
  • Balanagar
  • Red Sitaphal

Embrace proper orchard management practices

Custard apples flourish in areas with moderate temperatures, well-drained soils, and well-distributed rainfall. However, they can be grown under irrigation in drier areas.

They should be planted at a spacing of 4m by 4m or 6m by 6m. The planting holes should have a diameter of 60cm by 60cm and a depth of 60cm. To improve soil fertility, mix the topsoil with well-decomposed manure.

After planting, the trees grow vigorously and need to be irrigated regularly. Fertilizers and manures should be applied at intervals to enhance plant growth. Employ effective pest and disease control strategies to maintain plant health. Custard apples are susceptible to diseases such as leaf spot, root rot, anthracnose, and Blackstone. They are attacked by pests such as aphids, spider mites, thrips, and fruit borers.

Employ proper harvesting and post-harvesting practices

Immature custard apple fruits do not ripen. ThisThis means that they should be harvested once they are fully mature. The productivity of the plants varies depending on the ecological conditions and the farm management practices employed. Farmers can either put the fruits under cold temperatures or process them into other products to prolong the shelf life. However, refrigerating the fruits makes them lose their attractiveness and aroma.

Invest in value addition

Value addition is a great way to squeeze extra cash out of your investments. Custard apple is a wonderful fruit with many health benefits and a high nutritional value. They can be processed into jelly, jam, juice, and squash and also added to ice cream.

Proper marketing and output

Custard apple plants can be highly productive, with a mature tree producing an average of 100 fruit weighing between 300 – 400 grams. This translates into 30 to 40kg per tree. In the local market, the price per kilo ranges from Ksh 80 to Ksh 130 per kilo during the offseason. A farmer with an acre containing 300 plants can earn between Ksh 720,000 to Ks 1,170,000. Isn’t this a good amount?

The fruits have a high demand in both the local and export markets. Before understanding the dynamics of the export markets, farmers should try to target the local market. They can sell their produce in open-air markets, supermarkets, groceries, and food parlors in different parts of the country.

Where to get the best fruit seedlings

Seeds have the potential to produce excellent crops and are therefore very important for making money. OxfarmAg offers high-quality custard apple seedlings at competitive prices. We also offer a fruit growing package to help you kick start your custard apple agribusiness. The package contains free consultancy, 200 seedlings at an affordable price, organic manure (earthlee), labor, market connection, and lifetime agronomy support.

Contact us today to make your order.