Grafted Lemon Cultivation
Lemon is one of the important fruit among citrus fruits. This is a popular and well known fruit among Kenyans hence can be useful to you as a valuable cash crop and as a source of important nutrients. Lemon cultivation can be profitable to home gardeners and small scale farmers who have minimal land. 2-10 lemon trees if well taken care of is sufficient for you to be able to sell fruit in small quantities direct to neighboring consumers or in wholesale quantities to fruit vendors.
Location plays an important role when setting up your orchard. This entails climatic conditions of your area, exposure to sunlight, your soil type and also nearness to the market. Here are some of the factors you should consider when cultivating lemons:
Tropic and subtropical regions are suitable for lemon cultivation. They are grown in both dry and humid atmospheres. Lemons thrive in arid and semi-arid areas as long as they receive sufficient water. Locations that are exposed to very low temperatures should be avoided because lemons are sensitive to cold. Temperature of 25-35°C is satisfactory for lemon growth. Excess temperature above 40°C might hamper growth.
Lemons as most citrus trees grow well in a variety of soils. Avoid planting lemons in wet soils that are susceptible to waterlogging. Deep fertile well drained soil is suitable for optimum production. Soil PH between 6-7 is sufficient for lemons to thrive
- Propagation & planting
The common propagation method is from seed. Lemons can grow to maturity from seed but they take more years to start fruiting and will produce fruits highly variable in quality. For proper production ensure you plant one year old grafted lemon seedlings. Plant your seedlings at the beginning of the rainy season. A spacing of3- 5 metres between plants is ideal. Size of the hole will depend on your soil type; dig deeper holes if your land has a hard pan beneath the soil.
Ensure you grow a variety that grows and fruits well locally. We have five main varieties that we grow and proven their viability for both subsistence and commercial use.
- Sour lemon
- Rough lemon
- Fertilization & tree care
After planting your grafted lemon seedlings, top dress using farm yard manure. It is important to test your soil that will inform you on the needed ratios of major nutrient elements. Note that fruit trees require different fertilizer application at different growth stages. Nutrient elements that cannot be obtained from the soil can be supplied by foliar sprays. Other practices like training and pruning are important to maintain trees shape and structure.
- Pest & diseases
Ensure to observe high hygiene standards and keep your plants healthy to minimize pest and disease attack. Prevention is better than cure; your plants will not benefit from a good pest control program if other management practices like proper fertilization, irrigation & tree care are neglected. You will not achieve full productive capability if you neglect pest and disease control measures.
Major diseases include:
Most injurious pests to note are:
- Fruit flies
- Mealy bugs
You will start harvesting your lemon fruits from the third year, grafted seedlings take 2-3 years to start fruiting. Once harvested lemons have a long shelf life and with proper storage can last up to a month increasing the percentage of juice content. Lemons varieties with green peel keep longer than those with yellow peel. Yield and quality vary widely depending on the management practices. Max out your farming! Bless
Grape Cultivation in Kenya
Grapes are mostly grown for wine production, raisin making or for table purpose to be consumed fresh. There are a few farmers and entities engaging in commercial grape cultivation for wine production. A good number of small scale farmers grow a few vines for personal consumption. Kenya has not yet realized its full potential when it comes to commercial grape cultivation despite the fact that this crop can do well in different parts of the country. There are several counties in Rift valley, Nyanza, Eastern, Central and western province that stand a chance of becoming grape producers. With proper county government support and better grower education farmers can produce quality grapes that meet market standards and capacity.
This post is for you who is interested to plant a few vines for own consumption. We will take you through the basics of grape cultivation and the right varieties to plant.
Grape is successfully grown in areas that experience temperature that range from 15oC- 40oC. They generally require hot and dry climate for proper growth and fruiting. An annual rainfall of 900mm is ideal but should be supplemented with irrigation in case rainfall is not well distributed throughout the year. On the contrary, rainfall during flowering and fruit ripening might lead to the spread of downy mildew disease.
Although grapes are well adapted to a variety of soil type they prefer deep fertile soil with good drainage, low salinity and PH range of 6.5-7.5. Grapes like most fruit trees are prone to waterlogging; your soil should have good water holding capacity and devoid of any hard pan.
- Propagation, Planting & fertilization
You can get grape seedlings that we propagate by cuttings or grafting. We graft desired varieties on dogridge rootstock. Grafting increases vine life, fruit yield, plant vigor and takes 2-3 years for new vines to begin bearing grapes. Plant your grape seedlings in an area that receives adequate sunlight. Observe a spacing of 3 metres between plants and 2.5 metres between rows. We encourage the use of farmyard manure and biofertilizers to fertilize your vines. Foliar sprays can also be used to supply micro nutrients. Your fertilization program should be informed by soil and leaf analysis.
Irrigate your vines on a need basis. It is important to note that grapes require more water during berry growth and less water during fruit bud formation and when the fruits are ripening.
You should probably grow table grapes for personal consumption. The table varieties that we grow under organic cultivation are;
- Thompson seedless
- Red glode
- Autumn royal
- Alexandria muscat
- Training and pruning
To increase productivity, your grapevines should be well trained and pruned. The mode of training and pruning is determined by the growth habits of your vine. You should exercise much care and precision when pruning. Poor pruning or lack of it leads to poor fruit set. Do more research to up your pruning skills; there are many videos online that will expose you to the different types of training and pruning grapevines.
- Pest and diseases
Ensure you implement plant protection measures to ensure your vines are free from pests and diseases.
The major diseases affecting grapes are;
- Powdery mildew
- Downy mildew
Major pests include;
- Mealy bugs
- Leaf hoppers
Grapes hardly ripen off the tree, so it is proper to harvest them only after ripening. Grape berries kept at room temperature can last a week without spoilage. Different varieties fruit at different time therefore with proper planning and timing you can consume your home grown grapes for the better part of the year. Keep planting!
Dragon Fruit cultivation in Kenya
Dragon fruit is a vine-like climbing cactus that serves both as a fruit crop and an ornamental plant. Dragon fruit is mostly eaten raw as fresh fruit. It can also be processed into juice, wine and jam. Dragon fruit cultivation is picking up in the country. We have different categories of farmers cultivating this fruit crop;
- Those who plant mainly for value addition especially wine.
- Farmers who sell their produce to fruit vendors or directly to consumer
- And there those who plant for own consumption
This post is mainly targeted for you who wish to cultivate a few plants for your nutrient requirement. There many reasons for you to have this plant in your garden;
- Dragon fruits are highly nutritious
- Low maintenance cost
- Minimal after care
- can be planted in area that has limited space
- dragon fruit is a fast return perennial fruit crop with production expected from 18-24 months after planting
- Once grown you can harvest for more than 20 years
The major constraint is the use of trellises. Dragon fruit plants are vine-like and need support hence the need of posts either concrete or wooden.. This article will take you through the basics of dragon fruit cultivation that include; climate & soil requirement, propagation & varieties, planting & irrigation, plant care, harvesting.
- Climate & soil-Dragon fruit prefer tropic and sub tropic regions that have high temperature, 20-32°C is sufficient. You should plant dragons in well drained soils with high organic matter. Like most fruit crops it does not tolerate waterlogging.
- Propagation & varieties- Dragon fruit seedlings are mostly propagated by cuttings. There are five main dragon fruit types:
- Pink fruit skin with white flesh
- Red fruit skin with red flesh
- Red fruit skin with white flesh
- Yellow fruit skin with white flesh
- Yellow fruit skin with red flesh
- Planting & irrigation-For proper upright growth the plants need strong support structures. Concrete or wooden posts are mostly used. The supporting posts are placed in the middle of the planting hole well in advance before planting. For best growth and fruit production plant dragon in an area that receives enough sunlight and less wind. Dragon plants require less water compared to other fruit plants. They require frequent irrigation at the time of:
- Fruit development stage
- And during hot dry climate
- Plant Care– These after care activities will ensure proper plant growth and fruit development.
- Fertilization-Dragon fruit demand for nitrogen is comparatively less compared to other fruit crops. You can grow them organically using compost and farm yard manure
- Pest & diseases management-there are fewer disease and pest attacks. As a good practice, prevention is better than cure. There may be cases of thrips, mealy bugs and slug attack. Be on the watch out for any early signs of attack and act to deter any attack. Anthracnose is the most significant disease.
- Pruning & training- prune your plant to remove all damaged or diseased stems. Ensure any stem that touches the ground is removed. Train the main stem and tie it to the support structure as the plant grows. Once the stem reaches the top, cut the tip to induce branching
- Harvesting– The fruits are likely to be ready for harvest 45-50 days after fruit set. Fruit ripen at different times and should be selectively harvested. You should carefully remove the fruits from the plant for they are easily damaged. The average fruit weight is 300 grams but with proper tree care and fruit thinning you can attain weight of between 850-1000 grams per fruit.
If you are entrepreneurial then dragon fruit could be an asset. But before heavily investing take time to do test plants and familiarize yourself with the cultivation process. Learn to do more using less, your establishment cost should be minimal-we can assist in this area. Have a clear road map of who your customers are and how your product will reach them. Is there market for the fruit? We cannot tell. We believe it is your work as an entrepreneur to find market for the fruit.
Grafted Dwarf Peach Seedlings
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!!!!
kitale Horticulture Project
Since the start of the year, we have been implementing our first demo project in kitale geared towards sustainable fruit farming. The project objective is to empower local communities through sustainable seed finance, mentorship and technical support in natural food farming technology and sustainable agribusiness. We seek to enable local wo/men and youth build resilience for their livelihoods against the effects of climate change, pandemics, natural disasters and calamities. We intend to document and disseminate successful strategies for replication and scale up in other parts of the country.
Smallholder farmers have great potential that need to be harnessed and converted into income generating models. We do believe horticulture can play a crucial role in uplifting the living standards of small scale farmers in areas such as Kitale and its environs. Climatic condition in this area is ideal for cultivation of fruit trees and vegetables, what is lacking is a change of mindset and technical skills. This project will demonstrate to small scale farmers how cultivation of fruits, vegetables and running small ventures can be profitable. Giving us impetus is the latest data from the directorate of horticulture that shows an increase in earnings from fruits and vegetables. There is a dietary need to boost body immunity making fruits and vegetables be in demand world over. The importance of fruits, nuts and vegetables in healthy lifestyles has benefitted horticulture making it lucrative.
The main fruit we focusing on is avocado; hass and fuerte varieties targeting export market. The economic and social importance of avocado cannot be gainsaid. The fruit has a large market as a fresh fruit, processed foods derived from it and as an ingredient in oil, cosmetic, soap, and shampoo. Kenya as a country still has a lot of ground to cover for it to be the leading exporter of quality avocadoes. His Excellency, the Deputy President Dr. William Ruto is on record encouraging farmers to diversify mentioning avocado as an alternative crop that can help farmers in this area increase income. A good number of farmers have heeded the message and have started embracing avocado cultivation making Kenya one of the fastest growing avocado exporters. Governors such as Hon. Jackson Mandago, Wycliffe Oparanya, and Lee Kinyanjui among others have also encouraged and supported farmers by providing grafted avocado seedlings. Some counties are in the process of establishing avocado factories to serve local farmers with ready market for their produce.
Total production does not equal the total amount of fruit exported because only a small percentage meets export quality. As much as we are increasing the acreage under avocado, it is prudent to narrow the gap between what is produced and what is exported by ensuring top quality is produced. Our main aim is to ensure small scale farmers can produce the desired quality of fruit that can compete in international market. Farmers within project area will be advised to plant a minimum of 10 grafted avocados per homestead. We encourage farmers to form clusters that will in turn form strong grower associations which are vital to ensure farmers are up to date with the trends in the avocado industry. Part of the strategy is to encourage farmers to plant veges and medium term fruits for the first 2 years before the avocado trees mature. There is a wide range of veges that farmers can do for their own consumption and for both local and export market. They include: kales, spinach, cabbage, managu, french beans, peas, capsicum, onions and any other that the market requires. There is also a component of poultry production where farmers will be encouraged to keep poultry and given necessary training and seed finance.
This demonstration project will offer practical education and knowledge transfer to farmers and also seek to expand and document local knowledge. We intend to partner with farmers as we learn how to manage the farm as a business. Together we will develop a curricular that addresses local needs covering different topics. This will include; being consumer driven, people and environment friendly, planting what is adapted to your farm, orchard maintenance, record keeping, cutting costs and improving outputs, improving quality, sales enablement, how to differentiate your product for a premium price, managing change. The main objective of this curricular is to ensure farmers run profitable environment friendly ventures. We intend to link the farmers with various buyers and create a platform where farmers can trade amongst themselves. Small scale farmers from project area who wish to be part of this initiative can reach us on +254715963005 or email@example.com
Sustainable Fruit Cultivation Enterprise
The agricultural pursuit of fruit growing comprises the science and art of raising and handling fruits and fruit plants for personal consumption or/and for commercial purposes. Fruits can be classified as; tree-fruits, nut-fruits, herb-like fruits, vine-fruits and small fruits. There are two main categories of fruit growers; those producing for own consumption and those producing for the market. There is a third hybrid category of growers who produce for own and sell surplus. Agriculture especially fruit tree cultivation, when at its best has great potential. A fruit tree will naturally produce fruit as long as it is grown in favorable conditions. There are certain hindrances that must be overcome such as pest & disease infestation, poor soils among others. There is no venture that is risk free therefore our main role as farmers is to mitigate/minimize those risks so as to realize profit. This post is addressed to those who want to successfully develop a fruit enterprise for commercial purposes. A later post will be dedicated to those who grow for own consumption and personal satisfaction.
When we mention the term ‘’commercial fruit cultivation’’ thoughts of millions runs in many a mind which is not the case. This is understandable due to the many blogs or prints on how to make millions of cash from certain fruit farm ventures. Don’t have too much fun in the fantasy to face reality; as a fruit grower you should not set before yourself the single standard of money-getting. As much as there is money to be made in agriculture one should also be aware of the non-commercial rewards in fruit growing. The blessing of agriculture to an individual and the nation at large is that it can make its workers happy and comfortable without making them wealthy. Satisfaction can secured just as well on a moderate income as on a large one. It is worrying when the Kenyan farmer is no longer happy or comfortable due to low prices or lack of market, but on a brighter perspective, this helps in getting us farmers’ out of our comfort zones giving us reason to try something else. From a farmer’s perspective, true wealth is health. Going by what is happening on the ground, we can foresee Rift valley and Western Kenya become the biggest producers of hass avocado in the near future. We are also longing for the day when one can purchase locally grown apples from your favorite supermarket/outlet. What of figs, grapes, dragon fruit and pomegranate from North Eastern. Fruit farming has the potential of raising the living standards of farmers but it is not a walk in the park.
Fruit growing thrives best in certain geographical areas, the business is not capable of equal development in all parts of the country. Different fruit trees do well in different parts of the country. There are various determinants in fruit growing that a farmer must keep in mind before investing in a venture of her/his choice. They include; soil determinant, moisture determinant, temperature determinant, parasite determinant, market determinant among others. The location and site where the orchard is to be established should be determined. The choice of location should be with reference to weather and market. It is also beneficial for the farmer to locate her/himself among fruit growers so as to interact with fellow farmers as they share ideas and develop the fruit mind. Such a location has a potential of attracting buyers and sellers, and also encourages many forms of cooperation among farmers. When it comes to sourcing of market, volume matters hence the need to position oneself in an area that is regarded as a fruit region. For instance we are starting a 2 acre hass avocado project in Kitale. It will make no economic sense for a buyer to come all over from Nairobi to buy our produce due to volume. So it is up to us to create a “hass fruit region” in Kitale by encouraging our neighbors and other local farmers to plant hass avocado. We will go to the extent of giving interested farmers hass avocado seedlings on debt to be paid using part of their harvest.
After all fruit growing determinants have been considered and a farmer has settled on the fruit type/s she/he wants to cultivate, SEEDLING PROCUREMENT is the next step. There are different fruit seedlings vendors where one can purchase seedlings from; an online search can give you a few clues. There are also different government agencies that stock fruit seedlings, they include: JKUAT, KARLO and some prisons too raise fruit seedlings for sale. When purchasing from any chosen vendor ensure you get a good deal in terms of; the right variety,certified. disease free, right price and replacement in case of initial failure.Our major role is to ensure aspiring fruit farmers get technical support and have a strong foundation when starting out their perspective ventures. We do have 4 different strategies depending on the farmer’s budget, where one can get quality and true to type seedling varieties.
- 18 months old seedlings – These are seedlings that are more than a year old and are meant for farmers whose aim is to get the first harvest within 2 years. Such farmers also don’t have much time to tend to small seedlings or replacing the ones which failed. As for the farmers we have dealt with, the success rate is 99%. A seedling goes from kshs 300-500 depending on fruit type.
- 6-9 months old seedling – Most farmers with a moderate budget have gone this route. These are seedlings that have fully healed, grafting paper removed and ready for planting. A seedling goes at Kshs 120-300 depending on fruit type.
- On-site grafting – we supply rootstocks to farmers to plant, and then we will come to graft them later once they are well established. Our grafters are certified and experienced attaining a success rate of 90%. This approach suits farmers who have a limited budget because they end up saving up to 40% on seedling cost.
- On-site raising of seedlings – There are certain advantages of raising seedlings in the same area where they are going to be planted. Farmers who have large tracts of land and want to implement a large scale project but don’t have enough cash can consider this option. We assist farmers in setting up fruit tree nurseries on-site to produce seedlings to be planted once they are ready.
N/B – When it comes to seedling production, we produce quality over quantity because we try as much as possible to have a wide variety of fruit trees. Therefore we do offer discounted rates to those who pre-order large quantities for commercial purposes.
It is best if LAND PREPARATION is done prior to purchasing your seedlings. This entails clearing the land, ploughing if necessary and digging holes. Keep in mind is the spacing of your trees; different fruit crops have different spacing requirements. Fruit trees are wide feeders therefore advisable to give them sufficient space when planting. There are cases where farmers go for high density plantations but this requires experience and high maintenance. In general, it’s safer to plant trees widely to have open spaces for sunlight penetration and for easier management. The hole should be broad, as a general rule, the harder the soil the larger the hole. In loose and deep soils, just dig a hole that fits the seedling well. Plant your trees when the soil is dry; don’t plant in wet and sticky soil. We encourage top dressing using manure rather than planting with a mixture of manure and soil. Roots should spread out looking for food, when you top dress using manure and the tree is watered, nutrients will sink in the soil and the roots will do the searching making them stronger. Any subsequent fertilization that is to be done should be informed by a soil and/or leaf analysis. If possible mulch your trees after planting. It is also advisable to plant annual cover crops that improve soil fertility when your fruit trees are still young. Avoid planting grain and hay in your orchard. There are cases where one wants to maximize land use and also desires quicker returns. This can be achieved by planting 2-3 different fruit crops in the same piece of land. Here the differentiating factor is the duration for maturity. One can plant avocados with a spacing of 8m (long term), then plant tree tomato or pawpaw in between (medium-term), and finish by planting strawberries or gooseberries beneath (short-term). This is done in the initial years once the avocados gain room these other crops should be removed.
A SYSTEM must be put in place to ensure maximum production, without systems you have a limited chance of keeping track of your fruit plantation. It is important to keep track of each individual tree/variety and make a record of the performance of each tree. This ensures each tree is given the necessary conditions for optimum production. Keep simple cost-accounting records and daily work reports. Tree care practices such as irrigation, fertilization, spraying, pruning and fruit thinning should be taken into account and done at the appropriate time. Your records should reflect all these activities. Irrigation and fertilization is done on a need basis. We recommend being proactive and spray your trees as a preventative measure rather than waiting for a disease and/or pest attack. Pruning determines tree shape and should be done from the onset as the tree grows. With the current fruit grading system, especially for those targeting the export market, fruit thinning is an important practice that should not be overlooked. This is done by removing redundant fruits resulting in an end product that is superior in size, colour and general quality. Fruit bagging is necessary if one desires extra-fine fruits. When it comes to harvesting it is important to do it at the right time depending on the fruit variety; there those that ripen on the tree and those that ripen off the tree.
MARKETING of your fruit produce begins early even before planting the fruit trees, for instance someone planting hass avocado or macadamia already knows there is export market. Know your market, we normally tell our customers’ that you are your own market and thanks to technology one can brand and market her/his venture at much lower cost. As personal as it is, Success will be determined by the ability of the grower and market conditions. Truth be told, 2 persons placed in the same geographical and environmental conditions and given an equal chance will attain different business results. It all boils down to high quality production and careful marketing. If you grow what people want or present it in a manner that makes them think they want it, success will follow suit. When it comes to market target, there are two kinds of commercial fruit farmers; those who grow fruit for a special or personal market and those who grow for the general or open market. It is prudent for one to know where she/he falls so as to produce the desired quality. Generally in the case of special market, the operation is small scale and high quality fruit is produced to be sold at much higher prices. Here farmer looks for his own customers and is independent of general trade. Those targeting the general market have no personal customers; they grow what the market demands and are subjected to prevailing market prices.
Message to the world market is that Kenyan fruit produce meets high environmental threshold. Kenya has plenty of land lying idle and there are no forests that need to be cleared for commercial fruit cultivation. Most of forests that are cleared are as a result of human settlement. Young people have started embracing agriculture and are taking over what their parents and ancestors established. The profile of a Kenyan farmer is changing, farmers are now seeking knowledge and embracing technologies that will help them produce high quality, disease free fruits, herbs & nuts destined for the world market. As much as more farmers are targeting export market, dependence on the export market for our fresh fruits is not healthy in the long-term; this should be complemented by value addition. Availability of fresh fruits should lead to the development of fruit processing industries in different counties. Both county and local governments should play a major role to attract investors in such areas.
Anyone going into fruit farming should know that there is stiff competition in this business and it is survival for the skilled. Seek knowledge and train for your work. Ten people can grow quality fruit but only one out of the ten can sell it to advantage. The effort at excellence must be continuous, let no achievement slow you down. As Ray kroc says “When you green you grow, but when you ripe you rot”. Master your local problem, from fellow farmers, books, blogs & forums learn principles and truths but at the end of the day you must solve your problems by yourself. Kindly let us know if we can be of any assistance in your fruit ventures, we can be reached via mail firstname.lastname@example.org or +254714118794. To a fruitful 2020!!!!
Loquat is an evergreen tree that mostly grows in tropical & sub-tropical areas. It is moderate in size that may reach 20-30 ft tall and produces yellow plum-like fruits when ripe; in fact it is referred to as the Japanese plum. The tree has a rounded crown, short trunk and new wooly twigs. Generally loquat fruit trees are east to grow and low maintenance. In Kenya loquat growing is carried out in isolated home gardens for local consumption and mostly consumed as fresh fruit. There are countries that grow loquats commercially, china and japan being the major producers. The fruit is a good source for minerals and vitamins. The fruit has health benefits and is highly considered in traditional medicine. Even though they are largely consumed as fresh fruit, some are processed into syrup, jam and jellies.
The tree can tolerate temp of up to 35 degrees and requires approximately 1000-1200mm of rainfall annually. In instances of extreme cold or warm climate the trees normally fail to fruit or fruit poorly. They prefer deep and well-drained soil rich in organic matter. They thrive in soils with a PH of 6, but can tolerate soils with a PH of 5-8.Young loquat trees should be well watered until they are fully established. Once established the trees are drought resistance but with regular watering, they will produce high quality fruits. Loquats can easily be grown from seed, grafting is necessary for consistent fruit quality. Most plants grown locally are from seed however we have spotted several hybrid varieties. We are in the process of propagating a few improved varieties that will later on be planted in different parts of the country. We hope to find a variety that is desirable to the market; hence the potential to be grown commercially. World over, there are more than 800 varieties that have been recorded.
Loquats and a matter of fact all fruit trees should be pruned to the desired shape. The objective is to open up the tree to allow sunlight to penetrate the plant canopy and to lower the bearing surface for easy harvesting and maintenance. It is advisable top rune fruit trees after harvest, remove overgrown branches and sprouts.one must fertilize fruit trees to attain quality fruits, high yields and healthy tree development. Leaf and soil analysis should inform the farmer on the fertilization regime to implement. Generally well composed farmyard manure does well accompanied by foliar sprays. Over fertilization increases sensitivity to fire blight disease therefore ensure the right dose is applied.
There are two major diseases that affect loquat; fire blight and loquat scab. As usual, prevention is better than cure, spray copper fungicides as a preventative measure. Aphids are the most common pests and can be controlled using bio-pesticides. General farm hygiene is key to achieving pest and disease free orchards. Prune off any dead or diseased branches and burn them. A well maintained tree will be more disease resistant than one which is not well taken care of. Ensure trees are well fertilized, irrigated and monitored regularly for any early signs of pest and diseases. In case of any attacks, seek help from your local agriculture officer or agronomist.
Harvesting takes place when the fruits are fully ripe. It takes 3 months from flowering for fruits to reach maturity. The fruits are round or oval shaped borne in clusters and usually yellow or orange when ripe. With proper fruit thinning one can achieve big fruit size; this is done on fruit set by reducing the number of fruits per cluster. Loquat fruits should ripen on the tree for better taste and quality. Fruits that are harvested before they are ripe tend to be bitter and acidic. They are tastier when they are eaten straight off the tree or within a day or two of picking. Seeds are toxic and should not be eaten.
Loquat trees play an important role in the environment; they provide shade, act as windbreakers, its large leaves are a good source of nutrients used as mulch and the tree has a well-developed root system that holds soil countering erosion. It is mostly planted in parks and gardens because of its ornamental appearance. It is also grown on borders of homesteads used as a barrier or boundary. we do have both grafted and non-grafted loquat seedlings for those who are interested to plant a few.
PERSIMMON KAKI CULTIVATION
Persimmon is a rare fruit tree in Kenya only known to a few; ironically its popularity worldwide closely ranks next to avocadoes. Nutritionally the persimmon fruit is a good source of minerals, vitamins and antioxidants important for optimum health. The trees can grow to a height of 20 feet and takes 3-5 years to start fruiting. Grafted varieties may take 2-3 years to fruit. Same as pomegranate, persimmon fruit trees are either single-stemmed or multi-trunked. Persimmons are classified into 2 major groups as either astringent or non-astringent. The astringent variety loses astringency as the fruit ripens.
The persimmon fruit tree is a hardy plant that is highly adaptable to different climatic conditions with minimal care and intervention. They grow and produce well in both subtropical and temperate areas but prefer slightly warmer areas. Most persimmon cultivars have no chilling requirement like most deciduous fruit trees do. Persimmons prefer deep, fertile and well drained soils with a PH of between 6.0-6.5. All in all they grow well in a wide range of soil and can tolerate heavy clay soil with good drainage. Therefore persimmon can grow well in most parts of the country and farmers should try it out by first planting a few seedlings to gauge how the plants will perform in different localities.
Seedlings used for propagation is grown from seed that can later be grafted. Trees are planted at a spacing of between 4m-6m depending on cultivar and land size. For better fruit production, Plant persimmons in areas with plenty of sunlight. Persimmons are fragile, therefore avoid windy areas or plant windbreakers. Even though persimmons are hardy regular irrigation is recommended during initial stages and during fruit set. Persimmons are heavy producers therefore fruit thinning is essential to ensure good quality and size. Training and pruning maintains well-balanced plant vegetation that eventually leads to quality production. It is advisable to prune persimmons when they are dormant. Soil and leaf analysis will always give insights on the fertilization regime to be applied. Generally farm yard manure and foliar sprays are sufficient.
Persimmons are generally free from most pest and diseases but as a general rule prevention is better than cure. Plant and crop protection is important to guard against any pests or bacteria and fungi disease attacks. Some of the common pests include; fruit flies, mealy bugs and fruit spotting bug. The few important diseases are leaf spot, mildew, wood decay, blights and crown gull. There is no much literature on control strategies for pests and diseases on persimmon kaki. Generally orchard hygiene is crucial and ensure to source disease free seedlings. Spray copper fungicide, horticultural oil or neem oil as a preventative measure before any attacks occur.
Our main objective is to promote fruit cultivation either for subsistence or commercial purposes our main target being small scale farmers. We collaborate with enlighten gardeners and farmers who have a passion for homegrown produce and can go an extra mile to try something new. There are several fruit trees like the persimmons that are grown in Kenya but there is no documentation on best practices and how the fruits perform in different parts of the country. We believe it’s up to us as farmers to try and experiment with the different varieties to gauge their performance in different parts of the Country. We have a catalogue of around 20 different fruit types that we do stock from time to time and have been planted in different parts of the country to monitor how they perform. Feel free to reach us on email@example.com or call +254715963005. Fruitful 2019!
Edible Fig Fruit
Fig fruit is one of the ancient fruits known to mankind, mostly grown in tropical and subtropical areas of the world especially in the Mediterranean. It is a nutritious fruit that is richer in iron and copper contents than other fruits. Figs contain high sugar and low acid, and also rich in carbohydrates, vitamin A and C. Fig consumption and commercial cultivation has not taken root in Kenya, only few farmers and home gardeners have embraced this crop and in most cases only a few fig trees have been planted. Kamiti prisons have played a major role in the propagation of fig fruit seedlings and they are among the few fruit tree nurseries that do figs. In the marketplace figs can be spotted at Village market, a few traders deal with them at Gigiri and they don’t come cheap. We are in the process of partnering with a farmer in the outskirts of Nairobi to set up a demo farm of around 100 plants targeting a specific market giving room for expansion and full commercialization if the market responds well.
Figs are low maintenance fruit crops that need less care and can grow in most parts of the country. Fig trees do well in a wide range of soil type the important factor being soil drainage. Avoid areas that have poor drainage for this may lead to nematode infestation, stunted growth and eventual demise of the plant. Generally they should be planted in well-drained soil with plenty of organic matter that will enable them grow into drought tolerant crops once the plant has developed. Soil PH of about 6.0-7.0 is desired. Farmers from arid and semi-arid areas should try out figs; they are among the fruit trees that can thrive in these areas. For maximum fruit production, Plant fig trees in areas where they will get plenty of sunlight and free from competing trees. Good water management, including regular irrigation during initial stages and mulching helps maintain tree health. Fig plants can be trained to tree or shrub form, it all depends with the farmers needs and which form does well in a given area.
If figs are planted in the ground, fertilization is less necessary and should only be done after doing a soil test. Compost manure is sufficient to create an enabling environment for the fig plants to thrive. In case there is need to use fertilizers, it should not be applied at planting time. Generally, figs do not require regular fertilizing; excessive fertilizer application can have negative effects on fruit quality. All in all, sufficient nutrients must be supplied to ensure the tree is healthy. Leaf analysis and soil test will come in handy when tailoring fertilizer needs.
With good preventative maintenance figs can be relatively pest and disease-free. Most common pests include; nematodes, mealy bugs, fig beetles, borers and scales. The most important disease is the fig rust, which is a fungus disease that attacks the leaves and anthracnose. This can be controlled by spraying copper fungicides from time to time as a preventative measure. Another important disease is fig mosaic virus, so far there is no cure, and affected plants should be removed so that the virus does not spread. Infected plants should not be used for propagation. Source disease free seedlings for planting and maintain proper sanitation during the lifetime of the fig plant to prevent any disease or pest attacks. Orchard hygiene is important and prevention is better than cure, prune to remove all weak, diseased or dead limbs each dormant season.
Figs take 3-4 years to start producing a viable crop. Sufficient irrigation will increase fruit size and production. Fruit thinning will also increase fruit size. Figs can bear two crops a year, the first crop produces substantially compared to the second crop. Figs are Picked from the tree as they ripen, ripe fruits do not exude a milky sap when picked. One should be careful not to get in contact with the milky latex which can cause slight skin irritation. Fig fruits are normally eaten fresh but they may be dried. So far we have seen two varieties doing well in Kenya, we don’t know their names but they can be differentiated by the fruit color. There is a variety that produces yellow figs when ripe and one that produces dark purple-brown figs. For those willing to plant a few fig plants can contact us and make an order.
Figs are among the underutilized fruits in Kenya. At this moment we are not sure if it is commercially viable unless one has a special market. The fact that a fruit commands a high market price doesn’t guarantee commercial viability. Fruits like kiwi, litchi, pomegranate, raspberry, blue berry, goose berry and fig are retailing at more than 1000/= a kilo but the market is limited. Not many Kenyans are aware of the mentioned fruits, we are optimistic that as the masses get informed they will embrace some of these under-utilized fruits. It takes time and expertise to build an industry around a certain fruit crop especially if it is not a mainstream fruit crop. For starters plant a few fig plants for own consumption and sell or donate surplus. Fruitful season!
Citrus cultivation in Kenya
Citrus is a common fruit in Kenya and is ranked amongst the most consumed fruits. Citrus is a general name for different varieties of oranges, lime and lemon. The demand of citrus is so high; local production cannot meet demand leading to the importation of large quantities of citrus fruit. The different varieties that are cultivated in Kenya include; Washington navel, Valencia, kara mandarin, tangerine, citron, Lisbon lemon, bear lemon and pixie. Major production areas in Kenya are at the coast, eastern and rift valley provinces. There is great potential in Nyanza and north eastern, the few farmers who are trying to cultivate citrus are hitting it right.
Citrus is grown successfully in tropical as well as subtropical climates. Citrus can be grown in a wide range of soil and climatic conditions. Ideal temperatures range from 20 to 34 degrees Celsius. In areas that experience high temperatures, there is a risk of flowers dropping prematurely. Citrus grows well in deep soils of medium texture, with good drainage and high fertility. Well-rotted farmyard manure or composed can be used to improve soil organic matter. Soil PH of 5 – 7 is ideal. Citrus tree are capable of withstanding long periods of drought, nevertheless irrigation is important especially in the initial stages and during and after flowering to ensure sufficient water for fruit set and growth.
Proper site selection is key to successful citrus growing; ensure the selected site meets the soil and climatic conditions. Choose a warm location that receives plenty of sunlight most preferably on an elevated or rolling land. Citrus prefer an open place where they receive at least 4 hours of full sun in a day during the growing season. A tree spacing of around 7m by 7m is preferable for proper aeration and sunlight penetration. Select the desirable variety that you want to plant, remember to acquire certified disease free seedlings. When planting, dig a hole then add the top soil mixed with compost, place the seedling in the hole and cover the hole with the remainder of the top soil mixed with compost. Water the plant well and build an earth wall around the seedling using mulch.
Grafted citrus seedlings take 2-3 years to start fruiting, and a single tree can produce up to 200-300 fruits per season by year 5. Prune the tree as it grows to achieve desirable shape and size. As a general rule; maintain a single stem and choose 3-4 main branches to form the framework of the tree. A citrus orchard needs regular monitoring and implementation of preventative measures to deter disease/pest attack. Major diseases include; anthracnose, leaf spot, greening disease, damping off, canker and scab. Major pests include; fruit flies, thrips, citrus whitefly, mites, aphids, ants, black flies and false coddling moth. For preventative purposes, any certified copper fungicide can be sprayed at least once a month. Identify any attacks early and seek advice from your local extension officer or agro vet.
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