“An apple a day keeps the doctor away,” is a common phrase in most parts of the world. Apples are one of the most consumed fruits globally. According to FAO, more than 84 million tonnes are produced globally every year. Since they retail at premium prices throughout the year in the local market, many farmers in different parts of the country have shown interest in apple farming.
Why do so many farmers like apples?
Apart from being popular among consumers, apples are also attractive to farmers. But why?
Apples are easy to manage – the crops flourish when the orchards are established in favorable growing conditions.
Apples are highly productive– Under good growing conditions and proper management practices, apple trees can produce an average of 20 tonnes per acre.
They have a high demand– apart from the fresh consumption, apples have a high demand for value-addition companies. They are used extensively in making juice, vinegar, jam, cedar, and many other products.
5 reasons why you are failing in apple farming
The goal of every farmer to achieve high yields, produce nutritious and high-quality fruits and sell the apples at good prices. However, to achieve this, a lot of work has to be done. Although they are adapted to various growing conditions, proper care is required to ensure that the apples are strong and healthy. Despite the high profitability, apple farming can be regarded as a tempting venture with many risks. It can be quite disappointing when the crops show poor growth and the trees produce insignificant yields and poor quality fruits. Below are five reasons why you are failing in apple farming:
- Climate change and unfavorable growing conditions; Unpredictable weather patterns such as floods, drought, strong winds, and frost can turn a beautiful orchard into a wasteland in just one day. Apples flourish in well-drained soils. Growing the fruit in areas susceptible to water-logging can be a bad move. Apples require cross-pollination and poor pollination can result in low production. Growing the same cultivar is another reason why you are failing in apple farming. Another cultivar that flowers at the same time are required for cross-pollination to occur.
- Pests and diseases; Pests and diseases can reduce the overall yield by almost 40 percent. No customer is willing to buy fruits infested by pests or affected by diseases. Just like other crops, apples are also susceptible to a couple of pests such as spider mites, wasps, codling moths, and diseases such as powdery mildew, blossom blight, and black rot. A poor pest and disease control program is a reason why your apples are under-performing.
- Poor postharvest management; Apples are quite delicate and can be easily be wounded with a slight cut. This can affect the appearance of the fruits and your profits as a farmer.
- Unpredictable market prices; Commodity prices are determined by the demand and supply in the market. Although they retail at good prices, the prices can sometimes fall, especially when they are oversupplied in the local and export markets. On most occasions, the average price for apples in the local market ranges from Ksh 20 –Ksh 30.
- Lack of additional investments; just like in other businesses, apple farming requires additional investments. Successful farmers invest in proper technology and farm management solutions. Lack of additional investments in tools such as marketing platforms, software, and advanced farm machinery means that you can’t track the performance of the crops on time. What happens next? The crops under-perform and produce low yields.
To mitigate the aforementioned problems and to enhance the overall yields, farmers should embrace inventions such as improved farm machinery, precision farming, farm management platforms, and artificial intelligence tools.