alexa Agronomist notebook: Want Christmas gift of cash? Sow the seeds now - Daily Nation

Agronomist notebook: Want Christmas gift of cash? Sow the seeds now

Saturday September 21 2019

Osman Jumbe of East Africa Seeds Company Ltd checks on sukuma wiki, cabbage and spinach crops on their farm during the Mombasa ASK Show.

Osman Jumbe of East Africa Seeds Company Ltd checks on sukuma wiki, cabbage and spinach crops on their farm during the Mombasa ASK Show. Tomatoes, potatoes, capsicum, coriander, cucumbers, watermelons and indigenous vegetables are some of the farm produce in high demand during the festive season. PHOTO | LABAN WALLOGA | NMG 

ANN MACHARIA
By ANN MACHARIA
More by this Author

Last December, demand for agricultural produce was high during the festive season, a scenario that is likely to recur this year.

Therefore, as we enter the last quarter of the year, this is the time to start preparing.

To begin with, tomatoes, potatoes, capsicum, coriander, cucumbers, watermelons and indigenous vegetables are some of the farm produce in high demand during the festive season.

It is thus ideal to grow these crops again this season because they would mature in time for sale during the festive season.

For good decision making, check from last year’s records to see which products you sold most and their prices.

This underlines the importance of keeping all manner of records on the farm.

Advertisement

Once you are certain which crop to grow, you can try securing a market at restaurants, supermarkets, or with market traders. Getting some orders would give you a head-start even during the festive season.

Tomatoes take three months to mature, so if you sow the seeds in the nursery next week, they will take three to four weeks to be ready for transplanting.

Therefore, you will transplant them in the second week of October, which gives you good time if you are targeting the December market.

The same case applies for a farmer targeting to produce capsicum. However, these crops should be planted depending on the market.

If you are transplanting bulb onions at this time, you will certainly harvest in December through January.

In the case of coriander, grow them on smaller portions to ensure continuous production.

For indigenous vegetables, take advantage of the short rainy season and plant them. For example, the black nightshade can be planted directly in the field or sowed in a nursery first.

MAINTAINING FARM HYGIENE

If you plant them at this time, the vegetables will be ready for harvesting at the end of October, giving you more time to plant more.

However, as you plan to grow the various crops, consider the environmental conditions and the market. For example, it is suitable for a farmer in Nyandarua to produce potatoes because of favourable environmental conditions.

However, if one decides to plant tomatoes and carry out management practices effectively, they are still likely to fetch more profits since this will be an off-season produce in the region come December.

The demand for green maize is usually high during the festive season. If you are to plant maize targeting the festive season, go for the short-maturing varieties like KdV4.

According to the Meteorological Department, the country is expected to experience rains during the October-to-December period.

Therefore, as you plan to grow, be on the lookout for pests and diseases that attack crops such as tomatoes, capsicum and traditional vegetables.

The three are likely to be affected by cutworms after transplanting, where the insects chew through the thin stems, causing the plants to fall off and die.

To prevent this, one should do crop rotation and remember to clear all the plant residues before planting.

Thrips should also be controlled by maintaining farm hygiene while for tomatoes affected by Tuta absoluta, pheromone traps can be used to control the pest.

Diseases to look out for include early and late blight, which can be prevented by pruning the crop, ensuring field sanitation and spraying preventive fungicides.

The cost of tomato production will differ depending on the availability of resources and the location.

However, on average, you are likely to spend Sh102,000 on an acre while the income will range from Sh160,000 to Sh280,000.