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Citrus Fruit farming in Kenya: What you should Know

Growing citrus is a long-term investment, so it’s a good idea to be informed before undertaking this type of farming. These plants are large shrubs or small to moderate-sized trees, reaching 5–15 m tall, with spiny shoots and alternately arranged evergreen leaves. They Include;

  • Limes,
  • Sour & sweet oranges,
  • Lemons,
  • Grapefruits,
  • Tangarines

Ecological Requirements

The growth, development and production of citrus plant depends on the physical characteristics of the soil such as drainage, water-holding capacity, structure, soil depth, and the degree to which water can infiltrate the soil, among others. These characteristics however differ in the various soil types.

  • Citrus can be grown in a wide range of soil types. However, for best results, they should be grown in well-drained soils, which are fertile, well-aerated and with a pH of between 6-6.5.
  • Citrus trees should be planted in a sunny and wind-protected area, and in frost-free regions because they cannot tolerate severe frosts.
  • They can tolerate high temperatures provided the trees are well supplied with soil moisture.
  • Well-distributed annual rainfall of not less than 1000 mm is needed for fair crop.

Read: How to grow Williams Hybrid Banana

Planting

  • Clear the field and dig planting holes 60 x 60 x 60 cm well before the onset of rains.
  • At transplanting use well-rotted manure with topsoil.
  • Spacing varies widely, depending on elevation, rootstock and variety. Generally, trees need a wider spacing at sea level than those transplanted at higher altitudes. Usually the plant density varies from 150 to 500 trees per ha, which means distances of 4 x 5 m (limes and lemons), 5 x 6 m (oranges, grapefruits and mandarins) or 7 x 8 m (oranges, grapefruits and mandarins). In some countries citrus is planted in hedge rows.
  • It is very important to ensure that seedlings are not transplanted too deep.
  • After transplanting, the seedlings ought to be at the same height or preferably, somewhat higher than in the nursery.
  • Under no circumstances must the graft union ever be in contact with the soil or with mulching material if used.

Read: Pests and Diseases control in capscum farming

Maturity/Harvest

  • Upon Planting, Citrus matures and starts producing fruits after 3 years.
  • Depending on the climate, citrus fruits may take 6 to 8 months to ripen.
  • Citrus fruits will not ripen off the tree, so refrain from picking them too early.
  • The best indicator of ripeness is taste.
  • Harvest the fruit by cutting them off with pruning shears or by pulling the fruit stalk from the tree

 

 

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HEALTHY BENEFITS OF LEMON AND HOW TO GROW THEM

Lemons originated in India and are part of the citrus family. Lemons most likely were introduced in Kenya by Catholic Missionaries when they planted them in in their farms.

GROWING LEMONS

There are two main varieties of lemons acid and sweet. The acid lemons include: Lisbon and Eureka. The sweet lemons include: Meyer and Ponderosa. Commercially grown lemon trees can reach heights of up to 20 feet. Lemons are very sensitive to cold and must be grown in areas that are not prone to extreme cold. They also require full sunlight.

Lemons are not very particular in the type of soil that they are grown in. Many lemon trees are actually grafted on the sour orange root stock to make them hardier. Typically, a lemon tree is not grown from seed in the home garden instead a tree seedling will be bought from a nursery. Lemons may be grown in containers as well as in the ground. Lemon trees do not require pruning other than if cold damage is present.

NUTRITIONAL VALUES OF LEMONS

  • Serving size 1/2 cup, sectioned, peeled (106g)
  • Amounts Per Serving % Daily Value
  • Calories 30
  • Calories from Fat 5g
  • Total Fat 0g 0%
  • Sodium 5mg 0%
  • Total Carbohydrate 10g 3%
  • Dietary Fiber 3g 11%
  • Sugars 3g
  • Protein 1g
  • Vitamin A 0%
  • Vitamin C 90%
  • Calcium 2%
  • Iron 4%

HEALTH BENEFITS OF LEMONS

Lemons are very high in Vitamin C with a half a cup of juice containing 100% of the RDA. The Vitamin C in lemons is in the form of citric acid which has been shown to help improve the absorption of calcium by the digestive system.

Lemons also contain unique flavinoids and are high in antioxidants which can fight free radicals and cancer cells. The antioxidants in lemons also help with providing vascular protection and boosting the immune system.

Lemons are helpful in treating urinary tract infections, and many digestive problems. Lemon can also be used as a natural antiseptic on cuts.

HOW TO GET THE MOST OUT OF LEMONS

When choosing a lemon it is important to look for fruits which are firm and bright in color. Lemons that have a fine texture and feel heavy for their size typically produce the most juice.

A medium sized lemon produces approximately 3 tablespoons of juice and 3 tablespoons of grated zest. Both of which can be frozen for future use. In order to get the most juice from your lemons microwave them for about 15 seconds or roll it against a hard surface before juicing.

A fresh lemon should last about 2 weeks at room temperature; however, when stored in a plastic bag in the crisper of the refrigerator a lemon can last up to 6 weeks.

Lemons have a multitude of purposes. They are a great flavoring agent. They are beautiful to use as an edible garnish. They also are useful as natural cleaning purposes.

Read Also: WHY YOU SHOULD PLANT AND EAT MACADAMIA NUTS

CONCERNS AND CAUTIONS

Because of the exceptionally high content of Vitamin C in lemons it is important to monitor your daily consumption of Vitamin C in order to avoid intestinal discomfort and diarrhea.

Plant lemons today to supplement your income as well as boosting your health. Kindly visit our offices or contact us and let Oxfarm organic tell you more about lemons, where to grow and where to sell.