Many farmers in Kenya invest in mango orchards. However, there are a number of production-related hindrances at farm level, including:
Limited access to good quality planting materials
-There is a general shortage of grafted planting materials of improved and higher yielding varieties in many areas. Farmers often use inferior seedlings obtained by germinating mango seeds from indigenous varieties. Such ungrafted trees take much longer to bear fruit. Whereas grafted trees begin to bear fruit within 3 to 4 years, ungrafted trees will take at least 5 years to bear fruit, depending on the growing conditions.
Pest and disease problems
Mangoes have many devastating pests and diseases, which can result in total yield loss. Major pests include the fruit fly (Bactrocera invadens), seed weevil (Sternochetus mangiferae) and mealy bugs (Rastrococcus invadens). Diseases like anthracnose and powdery mildew are common in almost all mango growing areas.
Poor orchard management –
In many areas, mango trees are left to grow so big that pest and disease management, harvesting and other field operations are difficult to implement. Except in big or commercial farms, mango trees are normally scattered around the gardens, ranging from 2 to 100 trees per household. This scattered nature makes mango a commonly neglected crop in terms of management, but becomes important only during the harvesting season.
Fruit damage is a common problem as a result of poor pest and disease management and the poor harvesting practices. Also, a lot of fruit is lost after harvest, especially during the peak seasons due to the limited capacity to store and process fruit. This is further worsened by the poor roads and transport infrastructure to markets.
Limited returns from mango production
Mango is highly seasonal and harvest is only expected at certain times of the year
depending on the local conditions. During this time, most areas are harvesting and so the local markets are saturated and, therefore, offer very low prices, which may not even cover transportation costs
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The apricot favors well drained soil but doesn’t like to be too dry especially in the summer. Providing a happy medium between the two will be key to success and it is up to you to judge the type of soil you already have and influence the structure as much as you can. Too light or sandy then pep it up with lots and lots of organic rich material. Too weighty or sluggish then alleviate it with lots of grit, sharp sand and leaf mold.
The soil should be well cultivated and friable; double dig-it over if it has not been cultivated before. Clear away all perennial weeds because the last thing you want is added competition from them when your trees are in settled, and growing.
Prepare a hole large enough to take the roots. Apricots are vigorous growers and you may find the root system larger than that of other trees. Set the tree to the same depth as it was at the nursery previously – examination of the stem should reveal the soil mark still identifiable and this will tell you how deeply it was set in the ground before. In any event the grafting point should sit above the soil level and the roots buried in not less than 2” of soil.
Dry mulches should be used to retain moisture while heavy banana stems should be supported to avoid damage. Old diseased leaves should be removed while de-leafing is important to ensure healthy growth. Harvesting begins after 15-18 months, and a light shiny appearance means that the banana is ready for harvest. Harvesting should be delicate to avoid bruising of the bananas. The bananas should be temporarily stored in a cool, dry place and should be wrapped in banana leaves or grass to avoid bruising. If for export, they should be washed using a disinfectant and might require branding.
Plums are excellent fresh but also make a wonderful jam or jelly. Plums require full sun and well-drained, sandy soil to thrive. They prefer a soil with a pH that ranges from 5.5 to 6.5. It is always a good idea to have your soil tested before planting any fruit tree to be sure that they pH is appropriate. You should also work the appropriate amendments into your soil before planting. Their overall size may also need to be considered. Most plum trees will reach 16 feet at maturity or 14 feet if they are a dwarf variety.
Plums have quite high moisture demands, so they are best planted on good clay or loamy soils. But sites also need to be well drained as plums, and gages in particular, hate waterlogged soils. Add bulky organic matter to sandy or shallow chalky soils prior to planting.
Plant plum trees in well-drained, moderately fertile soil in full sun. Avoid planting in low areas where frost may settle, as the frost will damage your trees. If possible, find a sheltered position, such as a south- or west-facing spot out of the wind. This will help the plum tree set fruit. For grafted trees, keep the graft union 1 inch above the soil line when planting. Dig a hole that is a few inches deeper and wider than the spread of the roots. Set the tree on top of a small mound of soil in the middle of the hole. Be sure to spread the roots away from the trunk without excessively bending them. Space standard-size trees 20 to 25 feet apart. Space dwarf trees 15 to 20 feet apart.
Plums develop their best flavor if left to ripen on the tree. If they feel soft when gently squeezed, they are ripe. Trees will generally need picking over several times. Harvest fruits carefully so as not to bruise them, then eat fresh, destone and freeze, or make the fruits into preserves.