Experts' take on farming, agribusiness issues

A farmer inspects a watermelon fruit on his farm in Ahero in this past photo. Watermelon farming is a good agri-enterprise and with good management practices, one can get high yields.

Photo credit: File | Nation Media Group

What you need to know:

  • Watermelon farming is a good agri-enterprise and with good management practices, one can get high yields of up to25-30 tonnes per hectare.
  • Ginger requires heavy rainfall followed by a dry spell. It will do well in areas with an annual rainfall of 1,000-2,000mm.
  • The optimum temperature for ginger production is 25°-30°C. Ginger is mainly grown in the coastal lowlands of Kwale, in Eastern, Mt Elgon, Western and areas around Lake Victoria, but can do well in most parts of the country.

Our melons are shedding flowers

We planted watermelons that have been doing well until the flowering stage. They flowered well but the flowers started to fall prematurely. What might be the cause?

Braison Nandalwe Enterprises, Bungoma County.

Watermelon farming is a good agri-enterprise and with good management practices, one can get high yields of up to25-30 tonnes per hectare.

Watermelons grow and blossom, usually producing yellow flowers. Shedding of flowers portends serious losses to the farmer.

It should first be noted that watermelons lose male flowers by shedding them at the beginning of the flowering stage.

Thus, check if it is male or female flowers that are affected. Females can be recognised by their short stems and usually have a swollen area at the base of the flower.

If the female flowers are falling, then that would be a serious problem caused by poor pollination or pest and disease attack.

To curb the problem, ensure there is good pollination by planting pollinator plants near your farm to facilitate pollination by the bees. 

Also, ensure there is good fertilisation of the plants prior to flowering for strong and healthy crops and grow good varieties that are resistant to pests and diseases.

If there is a threat of serious economic losses especially if bacterial or fungal diseases are involved, spray with appropriate chemicals.

Jayo Manyasi Tracyline
Department of Crops, Horticulture and Soils, 
Egerton University.

****

I wish to farm quality ginger

I have two acres and wish to plant ginger. Please guide me and share the contacts of a seeds supplier. 

Narayan, Thika

Ginger requires heavy rainfall followed by a dry spell. It will do well in areas with an annual rainfall of 1,000-2,000mm.

The soils should be fertile, well-drained and loamy with a pH of 4.5-6.5 and should be free from nematodes and diseases.

The optimum temperature for ginger production is 25°-30°C. Ginger is mainly grown in the coastal lowlands of Kwale, in Eastern, Mt Elgon, Western and areas around Lake Victoria, but can do well in most parts of the country.

For ginger seedlings, please contact Lavington Plant Centre on 0714080532.

Carol Mutua
Department of Crops, Horticulture and Soils, 
Egerton University.

****

I need these seedlings

I am looking for seedlings of the following plants: moringa, tree tomato, yellow and red pepper, cocoa, coffee, tea, garlic, chives, banana, potato, red habanero chilli, bitter gourd, thorn melon, African cucumber, dragon fruit, strawberry, raspberry, blueberry, white guava, squash, tamarind, passion fruit and lettuce.

Simon K. Mbugua 

Yellow and red pepper, chives, bitter gourd, squash and lettuce seeds are available from most of the local seed companies. Kindly visit the nearest agrovet and inquire.

Garlic seeds are available from Garlic and Pepino Farm, you can reach them on 0723713642 and potato seeds can be sourced from Kisima Farm (06241039.

Bananas are propagated vegetatively by use of suckers. Strawberry is also vegetatively propagated by use of splits, which you can get from Strawberry Farm (0723701237) or Oxfarm.

You can get dragon fruit seedlings/seeds from Dr Matu, Nanyuki on 0722229364. Cocoa is a tropical plant which is commercially grown in West Africa. 

Some trials have been done at Kalro, Mtwapa, please contact them for more information on the suitability of growing cocoa in Kenya on 0202024751 or director.icri@kalro.org.

For coffee and tea, please get in touch with coffee and tea research institutes respectively or Kalro. 

For moringa and tamarind tree seeds, please get in touch with Kefri through 0724289781 or info@kefri.org.

Thorn melon is propagated using seeds. A ripe fruit is selected, the seeds and the pulp are scooped out and then allowed to ferment in a plastic container for 1-3 days. 

The seeds are then washed thoroughly and dried in a shade after which they are planted. 3-4 seeds are planted per hole and later thinned to one. 

You can also prepare your own passion fruit seeds from a ripe fruit. Guava seeds or seedlings are available from Kalro.

For blueberries, kindly look for Tamalu Farm in Timau. Simon, remember that seedlings take a short time to mature after planting compared to seeds.

Carol Mutua
Department of Crops, Egerton University.

****

Kienyeji eggs

I need quality fertilised Kienyeji chicken eggs? 

Simon

Several companies and farmers sell fertilised eggs, but before buying, verify the hygiene standards the eggs are kept or subjected to since quality and storage conditions have a huge impact on the hatch rate.

Please do due diligence first, given that you can look for these businesses online. 

Felix Akatch Opinya, Department of Animal Sciences, Egerton University.
 

Welcome!

You're all set to enjoy unlimited Prime content.