Peach cultivation in Kenya is still not widespread despite the fact that it can do well in various part of the country. We have not come across any farmer doing large scale commercial peach farming. In case you are doing peach commercially please let us know. The main challenge seems to be lack of the right low chill varieties that have commercial appeal. The common variety is the wild peach that produces smaller fruits that cannot compete with the imported varieties.
Main aim of this post is to enlighten you who wish to plant a few peaches for home use. We have put in the work and planted different low chill varieties adapted to the tropics. The few trees we planted in different locations are fruiting well. You will be taken through the basics of peach cultivation; right variety to plant, climatic conditions, soil & site, planting & irrigation, fertilization, tree care and crop protection.
Peaches do well in humid climate. The location should experience cold weather to meet the required chill hours. A temp of 17-32°C is desirable. The low chill varieties we have can do well in a majority of counties in the country. A soil ph of 5.5-6.5 is ok, adjust your soils to the required ph. Peach do well in almost all soil types other than heavy clay; they are highly susceptible to water logging. Therefore your soil should be deep, rich in organic matter and have perfect drainage.
You should plant peaches in an area that is exposed to full sunlight. Our custom-grafted seedlings are propagated through grafting using wild peach as rootstocks. When planting ensure the graft union is above the soil, 1-2 feet above. Dig a hole wide and deep enough to allow roots spread out. Irrigate your trees if there is no rainfall. To achieve well sized and quality peaches, irrigation is important. Irrigation should be cut back at the time of dormancy to harden the tree. This should also be done a few days before harvesting.
We strongly recommend you top dress fertilizer a few weeks after planting. Adding fertilizer in the planting hole deters the roots from completely spreading out in search of nutrients. Also manure added in the hole attracts termites which might injure the young tree. Ensure to keep your soil nutrient levels at the range required by the plant. Peach have a high demand for nitrogen and potassium. Rate of fertilizer application will be informed by soil test and leaf analysis.
To maintain your tree size and shape, it is important you prune and train peach tree as it grows. The best time to prune is when the trees are dormant. Your intention is to develop a tree with a well-balanced frame. This helps the tree have a strong branch structure that will manage to carry a good number of fruits. When the tree starts fruiting ensure to thin them by removing excess fruit. This improves fruit size and quality.
Integrated pest management approach is more sustainable because it stresses more on prevention. It is more eco-friendly approach for managing pest and diseases. As we, you should prefer to go the organic way and use bio pesticides as a last resort. Monitor for any signs of pest and diseases, and take proper steps to manage any pest/disease problem. Your trees will be more resistant if you keep them healthy and well fed by providing the necessary nutrients.
Your tree may start fruiting from the 2nd year but will reach peak production in year 5. A fully grown tree yields more than 50 kgs. For excellent eating quality, peaches should be harvested when they attain ripeness and are well coloured.
Challenge yourself and plant a few trees, ensuring a fruit tree is in the mix. This is a small action that leads to big outcomes. If you are blessed with rains and have access to water kindly plant trees in your plot/farm. Count your blessings and plant trees, there is a drought ravaging the country. There are people who wish to plant trees and grow crops but they have no water because the rains forgot to visit for two planting seasons. Fruitful season!!!!