Consumers have become more conscious of what they consume. They expect the fruits that they buy to adhere to high ethical, ecological, and social standards. When buying fruits either from the supermarkets or local groceries, consumers have been asking questions such as: Are the fruits safe for me and the family? Are they of high quality and produced healthily? Are the process justified or worth it? What disease and pest control mechanisms are employed especially when using chemical control?
Europe and Asia provide the largest markets for Kenyan fruits. Poor-quality produce can have negatively impact the reputation of the grower, exporter, and processor. Once an exporter, company, or grower gets a bad reputation, retaining the customers and stakeholders becomes challenging. For instance, when South Africa suspected that avocados in Kenya were produced in areas prone to fruit flies, they closed the market. Regaining the market took almost a decade and stricter measures had to be enforced.
GLOBAL G.A.P. guarantees safer food, fruits and better markets
Over the past few years, there has been a rising concern on the extensive use of pesticides. The slogan “Our food is slowly killing us” has become a debated topic in most parts of the world. It has become a regular headline in the news. If pesticides are not used in a controlled manner, we might end up losing the large market share in the export market especially in Europe, Mauritius, and Asia.
Despite the large number of companies offering certification to show proof of where the product comes from, only one agency has definite rules that should be followed by farmers. The GLOBAL G.A.P. is a food safety standard that was introduced to regulate the methods of production and to help farmers enhance the quality of their fruits. GLOBAL G.A.P. certification provides transparency of the food production methods from planting to harvesting. The production units are thoroughly evaluated by external auditors. Adhering to the set standards improves the methods of handling agricultural produce, ensuring that it’s produced healthily and sustainably to the consumer and a healthy way to the environment. The standard boosts customer confidence in the health and quality of fruits.
The GLOBAL G.A.P. is quite strict and only farmers and companies which adhere to good farming practices especially on HACCP principles, quality management, and integrated pest control programs can be issued with a certificate.
Getting the certificate is quite beneficial to farmers, exporters, and buyers. It enhances the profitability of the growers since buyers can buy the produce with confidence that its safe for consumption. Also, it offers a sense of trust and security to consumers hence the fruits will have a higher position in the export market.
Farm management systems make it easier to get the certification
To get a GLOBAL G.A.P. certificate, a farmer should follow administrative procedures set by the standard. The process can be time-consuming and quite challenging especially when conducted manually. It involves extensive assessment, monitoring, and analysis of data to find out what processes do not comply with the set criteria.
When investing in commercial fruit farming, it’s important to use farm management systems to run the farm. This can not only simplify the process of getting a certificate but also make it easier to look for tactical and operational support. If the data fed into the system complies with the GLOBAL G.A.P. standards, then you can get the certification within a short time.
Carbon is an important component that should be present in the soil. Human activities can either result in improved carbon storage or loss. Deforestation and decomposition of soil organic matter (SOM) contributes to the reduction of carbon levels in the soil. Deforestation removes the forest canopy increasing the soil temperatures when the ground becomes warmed up. The activity of the microbial decomposer community causes the decomposition of SOM in the absence of continual rates of carbon input. Loss of carbon input has increased Carbon (IV) Oxide (CO2) levels in the atmosphere. To maintain the carbon input in the soil, planting fruit trees is an important idea that farmers should put into consideration. Fruit trees not only help in capturing CO2 in the soil but also in keeping soil temperatures at optimum levels.
However, the rate at which a tree stores carbon varies
depending on the rate at which the tree grows and how big the tree becomes.
Carbon input levels are cause dictated by the capacity of the soil to store
moisture, the rate at which water is lost through transpiration, evaporation,
runoff, and the ability of the soil to
absorb water. These factors are determined by the proportions of silt, clay,
and sand. With the right mixture in the soil structure, there are many pores in
the soil. Since soils such as clay soil have micropores, they can store more
water compared to sandy soils which have macropores. Apart from surface crust
and compaction, soils with a good soil structure tend to hold water longer. The
amount of organic matter that breaks down into nutrients and carbon plays an
important role in improving the water absorption rate.
How to maintain soil carbon levels
There are many agronomic management practices
that farmers can employ to maintain soil carbon levels. These include:
Minimizing tillage on the farm.
Employing soil health and
environmentally friendly farming practices.
Promotion of farm forestry by
planting fruit trees.
adoption of environmental and
soil health-friendly farming systems;
Planting cover crops especially
in farms with fruit trees to minimize water loss through evaporation.
Mulching crops with synthetic
materials or different forms of crop residues.
Minimizing water and soil
losses by erosion and surface runoff.
Employing organic farming
practices. Farmers can apply external organic matter such as biochar, compost,
biosolids, manure, and mulch. Biosolids not only provide nutrients to the soil
but also promote carbon storage. Extra soil carbon that is stored in the soil
helps in capturing more moisture which means that plants will grow strong and
healthy. Biowastes reduces the effects of drought on productivity and soil
Adoption of integrated nutrient
management practices to increase soil fertility.
Importance of soil carbon sequestration
It helps in reducing the
emission of greenhouse gases (GHGs).
It helps in minimizing CO2
It reduces nutrient losses.
It helps in lowering atmospheric
It improves productivity and
It creates a suitable biotic
It helps in reducing soil
It enables and promotes root
It promotes water conservation
by minimizing water loss through evaporation and runoff.
agriculture sector can play an important role in reducing emissions of GHGs if
suitable measures are adopted. Since soils with a high organic matter have
higher carbon dioxide sequestration potential, healthy soils can help in
fighting climate change. Farmers should ensure adopt regenerative agriculture
to increase biodiversity, enhance ecosystem services, and enrich the soils.
Fruit farming not only helps in storing soil carbon but can also be a lifetime
venture. If you are planning to venture fruit farming, you should buy seedlings
at Oxfarm Ltd.
There are two types of pathogen-caused leaf spot diseases, especially on vegetables such as lettuce and tomato and on stone fruit trees. There are those caused by fungus and those caused by bacteria. Various kinds of leaf spots have a similar appearance and effect and can be prevented or treated with the same practices. Members of the Prunus family such as orange, plum, almond, peach, and cherry are prone to bacterial leaf spot. Vegetables such as pepper and lettuce are also affected by bacterial leaf spot. It also infects perennial and annual flowering plants such as purple coneflowers, geraniums, and black-eyed Susan. Fungal leaf spots mainly attack brassicas and other vegetables such as lettuce, cabbage, broccoli, kale, cauliflower, and turnip. It also attacks poplar trees and aspen.
Causes and Symptoms of Leaf Spot
leaf spot is caused by warm temperatures and plenty of moisture. Bacteria may
be transmitted to the citrus plants by rain and wind. Warm temperatures and
sufficient moisture provide an ideal environment for the growth of the
bacteria. The bacteria spread in the soil around the infected citrus plants, in
seeds and on garden debris. It also remains in the leaves, stems, and twig
cankers of the infected trees. Poor crop vigor also favors disease formation.
There are brown or black water-soaked spots with a yellow halo on the foliage which are uniform in size. Under wet conditions, these spots enlarge and increase in number. When seriously infected, the leaves turn yellow, wither and drop.
Prevention and Control
Prepare orchards using seeds that are
free from the disease.
Consider planting varieties that are
resistant to citrus leaf spot disease. Grafted plants are mainly resistant to
Rake up fallen fruits and keep the soil
under the tree clean.
Mulch the trees to prevent the disease
from splashing onto the leaves and reduce weeds.
Prune your trees to improve air
circulation. Lack of air circulation favors the growth of bacteria.
Practice field sanitation by removing the
infected parts and debris of the citrus plants and destroy them. This will
reduce the spreading of the disease to other trees.
there is no cure for bacterial leaf spots, various preventive, and organic
measures can be employed to control the disease. These include:
Spray the affected citrus plants with
baking soda. However, if applied excessively, baking sodas may burn some
Spraying the affected plants with
copper-based fungicides such as copper hydroxide and copper sulfate, mancozeb, and sulfur sprays at the
recommended rates. Apart from killing the leaf spot, organic fungicides also
prevent the formation of spores. However, farmers should apply fungicides that
are beneficial to insects and non-toxic to honey bees, especially during
Apply manure and fertilizer constantly to
maintain good health and crop vigor.
In severe cases, citrus leaf spots may
affect the fruits. Farmers should ensure that they employ a consistent spray
program to prevent disease development. Poor choice of the seedlings can ruin
your citrus fruit farming venture. Non-resistant varieties are prone to the
bacterial leaf spot which can reduce the yields greatly. Oxfarm offers
high-quality seedlings that are resistant to a wide range of diseases such as
citrus leaf spot. When buying seedlings, you should consider buying them at
The agriculture sector has a major contribution to the country’s economy. Horticulture, for instance, generates more than $1 billion annually. The demand for food is high not only locally but also internationally. However, food production is determined by the soil health. The primary indicator of soil health is soil pH. The yields from the farm and what you can grow can be predicted by the soil pH. It is therefore important to manage the soil pH for your crop.
Factors Affecting PH
Most crops perform well when the pH levels are neutral, ranging
between 6 to 7.5. Low pH can inhibit the nitrogen cycle. Some inherent factors
affecting soil pH include soil texture, mineral content, and climate.
Minerals in the parent material determine the pH of newly formed soils. When
the rainfall amounts are high, the soil pH decreasing as a result of
acidification caused by leaching. In dry environments, the soil pH is either
alkaline or neutral since weathering and leaching are low. However, soils with
high organic matter content have a high buffering capacity and hence more
resistant to changes in pH. Mostly, sandy soils contain little organic matter
content leading to high rates of infiltration and water percolation and low
buffering capacity. This makes them susceptible to acidification.
Nitrogen levels in the soil also affect the soil pH. Some sources of nitrogen such as manure, fertilizers, and legumes either form or contain ammonium. As the ammonium is being converted into nitrates, during the nitrification process, it releases H ions. The nitrate provided or formed combines with basic cations such as potassium, calcium and magnesium leaching the soil. These bases are replaced or removed by the H ions and in the process the soil becomes acidic. The application of sulfur fertilizers increases soil acidity making the pH levels to become lower.
Know Your Levels
Farmers need to know the pH levels of their soils to know which management techniques to employ. Regular soil testing is therefore important to help you know the crops that you can grow. Soil testing also helps you know the best time to apply fertilizers, the quantity to use, and the nutrients required by the soil. To have an accurate soil pH of the farm, multiple soil tests are recommended.
Different crops thrive well at varying soil pH. For instance,
legumes require neutral pH ranging from 6.5 to 7.0. Grains perform well at a pH
that is slightly acidic to neutral – 6.0 to 7.0.
Some of the measures that can be applied to raise the soil pH or
reduce acidification include:
Liming to increase the pH of acidic soils. Lime not only corrects the soil acidity but also provides the soil with important nutrients such as Magnesium and Calcium, and prevents elements like Aluminium and Manganese from harmful to plants.
Proper fertilization: fertilizers should be applied as per the plant’s needs. This is because elements such as nitrogen and sulfur can raise soil acidity. Proper irrigation management should be used to minimize the leaching of nitrates.
To minimize the acidifying effects of nitrogen fertilizers, farmers should diversify crop rotation.
Applying irrigation water and manure and other organic material that have a high content of calcium or magnesium bicarbonates.
cover crops, diverse rotation with high-residue crops, and applying solid
manure improves soil buffering capacity, increases organic matter content, and
minimizes changes in soil pH. Due to the
global-positioning, solid infrastructure, and favorable climate, the agriculture
industry is growing at a fast rate. However, the farmers will not be able to
meet the demand for food if the soil pH is not maintained. Soil testing should
be put into emphasis to ensure that food production does not reduce.
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 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.
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 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
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
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
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
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
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!
Kenya Has A Ready Market And High Demand For Agricultural Produce
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.
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!
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!
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!
Before planting your first fruit tree, you should conduct your own research regarding production, marketing, and financing the enterprise.
When considering tree fruit production, careful planning and research is critical to your success. There are many considerations you should address and some of these may be a few months in advance of planting your first tree.
Your first consideration should be your marketing plan. How do you intend to sell your fruit? You may be considering wholesale markets however; do you have enough acreage to produce the volume to be profitable? If you plan to retail your production, who and where are your customers? With the increasing popularity of hard cider operations, this may be an option.
Book your seedlings Earlier
You will probably need to order trees two months in advance. Before ordering trees you should decide if you will be planting apples, tree-tomato, avocado, macadamia, pawpaw, oranges, lemons, pears, or stone fruit (cherry, peach, nectarine, apricot, plum, ). Also before ordering, you need to decide the cultivars, rootstock, and tree density. You should talk to your potential markets to determine what cultivars are popular now and what may be popular in the future (We can help you with that).
When deciding on apple cultivars you will need to choose at least two cultivars for pollination. Some cultivars require three different pollens to produce fruit. You may also choose to use another type of tree such as crab apples to pollinate your cultivars. Consult your nursery to determine which cultivars work well together.
The topography of your land may dictate tree density. Steeper slopes may mean more space between rows but between tree spacing may remain as planned. Keep in mind that you will be operating equipment in the orchard at least weekly. Also, higher density orchards require more management than lower density orchards. High density orchards also require irrigation and a support system.
A high density (900 trees per acre), fresh fruit orchard may cost 150,000 per acre to establish while a medium density (150 tree per acre, e.g Avocado) may cost 45000 per acre to establish. The smaller trees will produce a crop earlier than medium sized trees so your management skills may impact your decision.
Labor is another consideration when deciding on an orchard. Will you need more than family labor and, if so, what is the source of the additional labor?
It will be several years before you begin to see a return on your investment so plan accordingly. Also, consult your accountant as trees cannot be deprecated for several years after planting. Production expenses are deductible but the trees are not.
After considering all of your options and conducting hours of research you should be able to make an informed decision.
If you really need to start an orchard and you are stuck halfway, don’t lose hope, visit our offices or give us a call and we will guide you through.
For those who have already decided, this is the time to book your seedlings.
Young orange trees are a practical addition to your yard since they provide both shade and a food source as they mature. However, you must have patience with a new sapling since it only provides ornamental value for several years before any fruit appears. The tree needs time to establish itself and grow larger so that adequate energy reserves are available for cultivating juicy Oranges.
Healthy orange trees produce fruit in their third year. At this point, a well-established root system is in place and the tree has enough foliage to create the photosynthesis energy needed for fruit production. The key to fruit production starting in the third year is soil structure. Using a pH meter, your soil needs to reflect a moderate to slightly acidic environment, or a pH of 5.5 to 6.5, for the most efficient nutrient uptake by the roots. Those juicy fruits also need periodic soil fertilizing; rich soils contribute to foliage and fruit growth over the years.
Once your orange tree begins fruiting, it consistently produces fruit every year under ideal climate and soil conditions. Each cultivar fruits during different seasons, but the majority are ready for harvesting between dry seasons and rainy seasons. Producing fruit takes four to 12 months once the tree starts blossoming. During this flowering period, orange trees rely on insects for cross-pollination and fruit development. For example, oval-shaped fruits often appear during cooler weather harvesting, whereas round and swollen fruits grow during warmer summer and fall months.
Your watering habits directly influence fruiting success and frequency. To establish young trees, they must be watered frequently so that roots grow deep and foliage proliferates across the limbs. An accompanying well-drained soil structure helps the roots stay healthy for better fruiting chances. If you overwater or underwater orange trees, their fruit may be small or not appear at all for an entire season. It is possible, however, to correct the watering issue so that the trees have a healthy environment for next season’s harvest.
Lack of sunlight easily stifles consistently fruiting orange trees. Without full sunlight, orange trees cannot generate the necessary energy from photosynthesis to create the juicy fruits. As your trees grow, periodic observation of the surrounding yard structures should be employed. For example, do not install a tall shed near a young orange tree since the structure’s shade may impede the tree’s sunlight absorption, especially during the cold months.
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.
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.
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.