How to Squeeze bitterness out of lime farming

lime farming

Lime farming is gaining momentum because limes are one of the most consumed fruits in hotels, homes and hospitals due to their health benefit. Unlike other fruits, they are not highly affected by seasonality and their prices rarely fall throughout the year. In the local market, the demand is yet to be met and it’s the high time that farmers tap into this lucrative venture.

Conditions necessary for lime farming

Soil requirements: Lime farming can be grown in a wide range of soils. However, they perform best in deep and well-drained loamy, medium black, or alluvial soils. The soils should be fertile and well-aerated. Lime plants are sensitive to extremely high or low pH levels. Lime farming should be practiced in soils with a pH ranging from 5.5-7.5. However, they can tolerate slightly acidic or alkaline soils, and hence they can be grown in soils with a pH ranging from 4-9.

Rainfall: Limes require moderate and well-distributed rainfall. However, they also thrive in dry areas especially when grown under irrigation. Areas prone to waterlogging should be avoided. High humidity is not good in lime orchards since it increases the spread of disease.

fruit tree seedlings

Temperatures: Just like other citrus fruits, limes perform best in moderate temperatures ranging from 150C – 300C. Extremely high or temperatures affect flowering, fruit size, and the overall yield.

Sunshine: During the growing season, lime plants require 6-8 hours of sunshine per day.

Winds: Hot and strong winds cause flower and fruit abortion and desiccation.

Areas grown in Kenya

In Kenya, lime farming is mainly practiced in Coast, Rift valley, and Eastern provinces. However, limes also perform well in northern Kenya especially in Mandera, central Kenya especially in Nyeri, Kirinyaga, Embu and Muranga, Machakos, Kitui, and most parts of Nyanza.

Spacing and Planting

Spacing is an important aspect when it comes to lime farming. Just like other citrus plants, lime trees grow vigorously. A spacing of 5m x 5m is recommended. After preparing the land, holes of 60cm x 60cm and 2 feet deep should be dug. Well decomposed manure should be added before planting. One acre can occupy between 200 to 250 trees.

Weeding

Lime orchards should be weed-free. The growth of weeds can be minimized by growing cover crops and mulching. Also, they can be controlled chemically using herbicides (although it’s not recommended).

Varieties

Varieties that perform well in Kenya include;

  • Mandarin orange
  • Sweet orange
  • Lime/lemon

Maturity

Lime trees start bearing 2-3 years after planting depending on the variety, climatic conditions, and management practices. Local varieties (non-grafted) can take 5 to 8 years to start production.

Pests and Disease

Pests

  • Leaf miners
  • Orange shoot borer
  • Citrus psylla
  • Fruit fly
  • Mites
  • Mealybugs
  • False codling moth
  • Aphids

Diseases

  • Anthracnose
  • Powdery mildew
  • Citrus canker
  • Scab
  • Leaf spot
  • Damping off
  • Greening disease

Production and output of Lime farming

The production of lime plants depends on the soils, climatic conditions, variety, and management techniques employed.

For instance, orange lime can produce 40-50 fruits per tree in the 4th/5th year. At an average cost of Ksh 8, the farmer will pocket Ksh 80,000.

The orange and sweet orange lime stabilize in the 10th year. From there, the average yield rises to 400+ fruits per tree for orange and 200+ for sweet orange lime. At a price of Ksh 8 per fruit, a farmer can earn a minimum of Ksh 800,000 for orange lime and Ksh 400,000 for sweet orange.

Lime/lemon produces can produce 50-60 fruits per tree in the 2nd/3rd year. At a price of Ksh 8 per fruit, a farmer will earn Ksh 100,000 in the first harvest.

Lime/lemon stabilizes in the 8th year. From there, one tree yields 700+ fruits per season. At a price of Ksh 8, a farmer can pocket 1.4M.

Price per seedling

At Oxfarm, we sell certified lime seedlings at Ksh 200 each.

Package cost

Through extensive research, we have realized that farmers do not have time and adequate expertise to engage in lime and lemon farming. This has resulted in huge losses. To help curb this, we have come up with a package to help farmers engage successfully in lime and lemon farming without incurring any losses.

The package costs Ksh 71,250.

WHAT IS IN THE PACKAGE

  • Free consultancy
  • 250 certified lime seedlings (20% discount offered)
  • Labor (digging of planting holes, soil treatment, planting)
  • Organic manure (earthlee) per holes (Equivalent to a bucket of normal manure).
  • Market connection
  • Free and lifetime agronomy support.
fruit tree seedlings

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