Establishing a tree fruit orchard in Kenya

Establishing an orchard for your tree fruits

Where to plant your fruit trees is an important consideration when starting your orchard. Ideally you want good drainage, good soil, plenty of sunshine (fruiting trees require a minimum of 6-8 hours of sun per day during the growing season), and good air flow. You want your trees to be wind protected and try to avoid low-lying sites. A slope is the best location, if you have one. Fertile soils with a depth of  more than 1.5 meters and pH range of 5.8–6.6 are ideal for growing fruit trees.

Dig large holes before planting fruit trees. The tree holes need to be large enough to accommodate the root system, a 2 feet diameter is a good measurement. Mix well with the existing soil and good quality compost. Mulching and composting are an important part of the orchard.

The proposed orchard’s site has to be cleared as thoroughly as possible of perennial weeds, undergrowth, trees, stumps, roots, trash and debris. This should be followed by levelling of unwanted anthills and the elimination of their destructive inhabitants. To achieve a good tilth of the cleared land, fruit growers are advised to plant an annual crop a year before starting fruit cultivation. After this annual crop has been harvested, the final re-ploughing, harrowing and levelling is carried out.

fruit tree seedlings

 

Selection of suitable fruit species/cultivars

The choice of suitable fruit species and cultivars to grow is one of the most important prerequisites for successful fruit farming. A cultivar must be adapted to the environmental conditions of the locality in which it is to be grown, and there should be a good market demand for it. For many fruits there is an extended list from which to choose.

  • Mangoes (Kent, Tommy, Ngowe and apple varieties) @150
    Hass avocados/fuerte @150
    Oranges @150
    Muthakwa grafted tree tomatoes @100
    Apples @400
    Lime @150
    Lemons@100
    Tangerines @150
    Macadamia @400
    Grafted purple passion fruits @70
    Aplicot @300
    Pepino melons @100
    Tissue culture bananas @250
    Guavas @100
    Plums @400
    Peaches @300
    Pomegranates @300
    kiwi @800
    Pawpaw @50
    Grapes @250

 

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ORANGE SEEDLINGS

<span data-recalc-dims=ORANGE SEEDLINGS" > Oranges grows over a wide range of soils but light, well drained (sandy) soils are most ideal. For good production oranges require well distributed rainfall or supplementary irrigation throughout the year. A good source of water is therefore essential in orange farming. Water requirements vary according to weather conditions, but the ideal range is between 450mm – 2,700mm per year.
Oranges can be grown from as low as sea level to 200m above sea level. Areas of low humidity are most ideal. Such a climate is important for reduced disease intensity and for acquiring good orange colour. A dry hot day, cool at night climate also favours good color development. Citrus requires temperature ranges from 13oC-38oC. Optimum temperature is 25oC-35oC. Extremely high temperatures may be harmful especially during flowering or if cool temperatures are followed by a hot period. Damage occurs in the form of flower and leaf drop. Wind can also cause serious damage to orange trees and fruits. Hot dry wind will often scorch trees by drying young leaves. Winds of high speeds will scar fruits and cause fruit drop. Where winds are a problem, wind break shelters should be planted

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PAW PAW SEEDLINGS

<span data-recalc-dims=PAW PAW SEEDLINGS" > Paw Paw
The ideal spot for a mature pawpaw is in a sunny location protected from the wind and endowed with plenty of rich, well-drained soil. The seedling should be protected from direct sunlight for the first year or two, so filter the sun with an open-ended barrel or some netting. After that, full sun is preferred.
Tree Growing papaya trees is generally done from seed that is extracted from ripe fruit. If you are using a fruit from a grocery store, it is most likely going to be a bisexual plant. You should plant several seeds per pot to ensure germination. Under full sunlight, seedlings may emerge in about two weeks. Plants can be set out after they are a foot tall and spaced 8 to 10 feet apart. The seedlings will flower after five or six months.
Pawpaw also grow best in full sun. Papayas like well-drained soil, and because of shallow roots, growing pawpaw trees will not tolerate wet conditions. In addition to proper pawpaw growing conditions, suitable care of pawpaw fruit trees is also important. For pawpaw trees to thrive, they require some fertilizer. Provide young plants fertilizer every 14 days using ¼ pound of complete fertilizer. Fertilize older trees with 1 to 2 pounds of fertilizer once a month. Also, be sure to take a soil sample and amend as necessary.

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GRAPES SEEDLINGS

<span data-recalc-dims=GRAPES SEEDLINGS" > Grapes are often ignored in home gardens, and yet are one of the most widely produced fruit in the world—as well as beautifully ornamental plants. We have plenty of tips for growing grapes in your homestead.
Grape vines not only produce sweet and versatile fruits, they add an element of drama to a garden or landscape. They are vigorous growers, and with the proper pruning, they will produce fruit with ease and can last longer than 30 years.
The crop prefers warm to hot temperatures; during fruiting, the weather must be sunny and dry. Warm environmental temperatures during fruit ripening, is important in increasing the sugar content of berries while reducing their acidity. This explains why grapes grown under irrigation in hot deserts or semi deserts are sweeter than those from cold humid areas.
The crop can grow in any soil, from sandy to heavy clays but the soil should be deep and well drained. Where the rainfall is scant, supplement it with an irrigation of 500 mm of water during the cropping season. In Kenya, the cropping season is September to March.
Irrigation should be withheld after the long rains so as to force the crop to go dormant.
In August to September, fruit buds form thus it is important to keep the plant healthy and well manured.
There are plenty of health benefits in consuming grapes for they are a rich source of Vitamins- A, C, K and minerals such as iron, copper, manganese.

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APPLES SEEDLINGS

<span data-recalc-dims=APPLES SEEDLINGS" > Apples trees can grow in a wide range of soils from medium textured clays to gravelly sands. However, poor soils will produce poor results and the best crops are found on fertile sandy soils and loams.
Soils should be well drained. Wet soils lead to poor aeration and increased incidence of crown rot in apples (Phytophthora cactorum). Generally, rooting tends to be shallow, and wet soils will restrict development, resulting in poor anchorage of the tree and a reduced area of soil from which nutrients can be extracted. Soils with high organic matter contents are normally better structured and allow good rooting.
Irrigation is necessary on dry soils, particularly when establishing and growing young orchards. Trickle irrigation and fertigation are increasingly used. In young orchards fertigation helps increase early tree growth and brings trees into bearing earlier. Sprinkler irrigation can be used to protect the tree buds and fruitlets against frost damage.
Sowing of a grass mulch between the tree rows is common practice, which together with any clippings, helps to increase water holding capacity, infiltration rate, soil aggregation and recycling of nutrients.
Apples prefer a slightly acidic to neutral soil (pH between 5.8 and 7.0). Extreme soil pH values result in nutrient tie-up or toxicity and poor tree and fruit development. It is important to amend the pH in acidic soils by incorporating lime before planting

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TANGERINES SEEDLINGS

<span data-recalc-dims=TANGERINES SEEDLINGS" > Tangerines grow well in areas that don’t have harsh winters and will produce an abundance of flavorful fruit every year with just a little bit of help. The fruit often ripens in the winter or early spring, making tangerines a popular winter snack and a traditional Christmas favorite in many homes. While a single tree can produce fruit on its own, planting more than one tangerine cultivar in an area can increase the yield of tangerines on all the trees.
Tangerines are relatively cold-tolerant, making them easier to grow than oranges, grapefruits and other types of citrus. Some varieties, such as the Citrus reticulata "Dancy," are heat-tolerant and do best when summers are hot, but other types, including the Citrus reticulata "Sunburst," do best when summers are on the cool side.
Citrus species can thrive in a wide range of soil and climatic conditions. Citrus is grown from sea level up to an altitude of 2100 m but for optimal growth a temperature range from 2° to 30° C is ideal. Long periods below 0°C are injurious to the trees and at -13° C growth diminishes. However, individual species and varieties decrease in susceptibility to low temperatures in the following sequence: grapefruit, sweet orange, mandarin, lemon/lime and trifoliate orange as most hardy.
Temperature plays an important role in the production of high quality fruit. Typical coloring of fruit takes place if night temperatures are about 14° C coupled with low humidity during ripening time. Exposure to strong winds and temperatures above 38° C may cause fruit drop, scarring and scorching of fruits. In the tropics, the high lands provide the best night weather for orange color and flavor.

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MACADAMIA SEEDLINGS

<span data-recalc-dims=MACADAMIA SEEDLINGS" > Macadamia is a beautiful tree, very forgiving; resilient to all weather, accommodative for old
people; they don’t need to work so hard nor climb to pick the nuts but wait for them to fall. The macadamia nut tree is indigenous to Australia but introduced in Kenya in 1945 to 1948. In Kenya, it grows roughly in the same climate suitable for growing coffee.
The grafted seedling takes 3-4 months to be ready for planting out in the farm. Seedlings are planting out in the field at a spacing of 9m x 9m or 10 m x 10 m or more if the trees are
intercropped with coffee or any other crop e.g. maize; however, if they are being planted as pure orchard, the spacing should be 4m x 10 m or 5 m x 10 m.
Kenya is sitting on a gold mine that if properly utilized would reap huge benefits for the country.
For many years, tea and coffee farming has been the major source of income for thousands of
farmers, however they are now changing tides and switching to macadamia nut farming.
Macadamia has become a lucrative produce all over sudden with a kilo of the nuts selling for
more than a hundred and a grafted seedling price shooting up from 300 to 500 Kenya Shillings.
Between1986 to 2002 the price ranged between 7 to 23 Shillings per kg., and in 2005 it averaged
80 Shillings per Kg.
The Kenya macadamia nut industry is currently made of approximately 900,000 trees of varying ages from one year to 20 years, grown by over 100,000 small scale farmers with an average of 6 -12 trees per grower. Annual production is about 4,000 metric tons of nuts-in-shell. These produce about 800 metric tons of marketable kernels, making the main commercial product. Other by products such as oil, are minimal. Producers get from nuts-in-shell Shillings 92 million per year.
Kenya is the third largest macadamia producer and the second largest exporter of macadamias. Many Kenyan farmers are integrating macadamia trees into their coffee and tea plantations. They view macadamia output as insurance against the uncertainties of weather which affect coffee and tea.

400

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2 Thoughts to “Establishing a tree fruit orchard in Kenya

  1. Hi,after planting can we get seedlings from these for use to plant again or we need to buy again

    1. admin

      Most of tree fruits must be propagated through grafting, hence the need to buy again from a seedbed.

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