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Why you are Failing as a Grape Farmer in Kenya

grape farmer

It’s quite disappointing when the rampantly growing grapevines produce many leaves and vines but do not produce fruits. The failure to bear grapes shows that either ineffective pest and disease control programs were employed or the orchard management practices are poor. Grapes flourish in integrated farming systems. Previously, grapes were produced organically and chemicals were not applied to control pests, diseases, and weeds but the vines produced overwhelming yields. Currently, commercial grape farmers use fertilizers and chemicals extensively for optimum performance.

Why you are Failing as a Grape Farmer

Grape farmers fail due to various reasons such as:

Poor pruning and less sunlight

Vines require constant pruning for optimum performance. The rate of pruning, however, varies depending on the variety. Mostly, lower branches barely produce fruitful vines and hence they should be trimmed. Non-productive vines should be pruned during the cold season to prevent them from shading and flowering during the sunny periods.Grapevines require adequate sunlight especially during flowering, fruit formation, and fruit ripening. Flower buds develop poorly when the sunlight is not sufficient.Exposure to sunlight determines the acidity and tannin structure of wine grapes. High intensity and density of solar rays enhance flavor profiles and color concentrations for wine grapes. When you venture into grape farming without considering the elevation of the garden, the plants perform poorly and produce poor-quality wine ad table grapes with low flavor profiles.

Soil and Fertilizer

Grape vines flourish in fertile, deep, and well-drained soils. Before venturing into grape farming, you should have your soil tested by the experts to determine the nutrients absent in the soil. Vines require constant manuring and balanced fertilizer application. The feeding program employed determines the production of the vines. Excessive application of Nitrogen-based fertilizers forces the vines to grow vigorously, producing more leaves and vines instead of flowers and fruits. In the end, the yields are relatively low than expected. Farmers should devise a fertilizer and manure application program to ensure that they only apply the required amounts of fertilizers.

Flowers and Pollination

grape vines

Although grapes contain male and female flowers on the same vine, pollinating agents such as wind and insects are required. Even when all factors such as environmental conditions and feeding are taken into consideration, the production of grapevines remains low when pollination is poor.  Bees are the most efficient agents of pollination in grape farming. Farmers are recommended to practice bee farming alongside the orchards to enhance pollination.

Pests and Diseases Affecting grape farming

Grapes are susceptible to pests and diseases just like other plants and they need to be eliminated. When pests and diseases are not controlled in time, the plants underperform and a large percentage of the fruits cannot get to the market. When you employ poor pest and disease control programs, it’s difficult to enjoy the profitability of the agribusiness.

Pests

Grapes are mainly attacked by pests such as grape mealybugs, aphids, black vine weevils, spider mites, and Japanese beetle.

Diseases

Grapes are sometimes affected by fungal and bacterial diseases such as:

Fungal

Fungal diseases that affect grapes include;

  • Anthracnose
  • Botrytis
  • Dieback
  • Powdery mildew
  • Armillaria root rot
  • Esca
  • Leaf spot
Bacterial

Bacterial diseases common in grape vineyards include;

  • Crown gall
  • Black rot

Re-building soil armor

Extensive use of pesticides, herbicides, and fungicides results in soil degradation. In dry seasons, herbicide and pesticide use should be done at a controlled rate.

Contact oxfarm for soil sampling and best agronomical advice.

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Make Great Fortunes by Growing Grapes.

Grapes are vigorous growers, and with the proper pruning, they will produce fruit with ease for 100 years or more.

Make sure you purchase grape vines from a reputable nursery. Vigorous, 1-year-old plants are best.

Select a site with full sun. If you don’t have a spot with full sun, make sure it at least gets morning sun. A small amount of afternoon shade won’t hurt. Your soil needs to be deep, well-drained, and loose. You also need good air circulation.

Construct a trellis before planting. Grape vines will need to be trained to some sort of support to grow upward. This will also cut the risk of disease.

Pruning is important. Not only would vines run rampant without control, but canes will only produce fruit once. Prune annually when vines are dormant.

Why Every Farmer Should Plant Fruit Trees

Grapes are majorly propagated using cuttings and by grafting which is preferred because they produce vines identical to the parent in characteristics.

However, the maturity period is highly dependent on management practices since planting. Your backyard grapevine can take up to three years to produce viable grapes, but that timeline is based on several environmental factors as well as how you care for the plant.  These include, pruning, fertilizer/manure application, watering, disease & pest control, environmental factors and soil drainage.

Grape plants produces 8 to 10 tons per acre. The cost of grapes in kilograms is between ksh200 to 300. This translates to a farmer getting around two to three million per year.