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Cabbage Farming in Kenya

Cabbage Farming in Kenya

Cabbage is a common vegetable that grows especially well in fertile and well-drained soils. The increasing demand for vegetables has contributed to the growing popularity of this crop, particularly in the urban areas. For the grower keen on maximising cabbage production, knowledge of major cabbage pests and diseases and their control is essential.

Cabbage Farming in Kenya – Growing Requirements

Cabbage Farming in Kenya – Soils

For optimal growth, cabbages require well drained soils with a pH of 5.6 to 6.4. Loamy, black cotton and alluvial soils are best suited for this crop.

Cabbage Farming in Kenya – Climate

The crop does well in cooler climates with adequate and well distributed rains. It can also flourish under irrigation in the lower altitudes.

Cabbage Farming in Kenya – Weeding

The crop should be kept free of weeds especially in its younger stages to avoid losses due competition from weeds; which can also be a source of pests and should be controlled at all times.

Cabbage Farming in Kenya – Spacing

A 60cm by 60cm spacing is recommended. The further apart you plant the cabbage, the larger the head will develop.

Cabbage Farming in Kenya – Fertilizer Application

To arrive at the exact amount of nutrients that should be applied to meet the crop’s requirements a number of factors need to be
considered:

  1. The nutrient level in the soil and rocks
  2. Nutrients that can be derived from previous crop residues.
  3. Timing of nutrient application, for crops to make best use of the fertilizers.
  4. Soil type: this affects fertilizer use efficiency. There’s 70 percent efficiency in light sand soils, 60 percent in medium, clay, silty, organic and peaty soils and 55 percent efficiency in shallow soils over chalk and limestone.
  5. Estimation of nutrients gained from use of organic manures
  6. Nutrients that must be replaced in order to maintain the soil index level
  7. The sources and cost involved in deciding the particular fertilizer one needs to produce required nutrients.

The following is a guide for fertilizer application:

  • Nitrogen (NO3, NH4) – 250- 340 kg/ha,
  • Phosphate (P2O5) – 100-200kg/ha and
  • Potash (K2O) – 200-300 kg/ha. Magnesium (MgO) – 100-150kg/ha
Cabbage Farming in Kenya

Cabbage Farming in Kenya

Cabbage Varieties in Kenya

There are many cabbage varieties in Kenya but the most popular are Gloria F1 hybrid, Copenhagen market and golden acre. The growing of these vegetables should be started by raising seedlings on nursery beds. Plant seeds in raised or sunken beds for wet and hot areas respectively.

The dimensions should be 1 meter wide and any desired length. Soil should be well prepared to a fine tilth before planting , then seeds drilled into the nursery bed as cabbage seeds are small. The seed rate is 300gm/ha. Healthy vigorous seedlings should be transplanted when they are 10-12cm high, about 4-6 weeks old. Soils low in organic matter requires 20 tons/ha of manure or 1-2 handfuls of manure per planting hole should be applied. D.A.P fertilizer is recommended @ 200kg/ha at planting. In acidic soils dolomitic limestone should be applied @ 500-1000kg/ha.In acid soils D.A.P fertilizer should be avoided and instead triple superphosphate, double superphosphate or compound N.P.K fertilizer should be used.

The plant should be topdressed with a nitrogen fertilizer at a rate of 100kg/ha when seedlings are established and a second topdressing at a rate of 200kg/ha when the leaves start folding. Have the soil tested for nutrient status where possible before planting. The field should be kept free of weeds during the vegetable’s growing season and mulching conserves moisture. Harvesting starts 1.5-4months after transplanting and lasts 4-6 weeks. The vegetable is ready when heads are firm.3-4 wrapper leaves should be left to cover the head and keep it fresh. Avoid bruising the head as it encourages rotting.

Depending on variety, soil nutrient status, water availability and environmental conditions the vegetable yields range from 40-100tons/ha.Grade and pack cabbage vegetable heads in crates, arrange with stem end facing the outer wall of the crates for transportation. This will avoid bruising the vegetables head. Cabbage heads can store for sometime at 0ºC and 95% relative humidity. Varieties with good storability grow hard compact heads e.g. Copenhagen market cabbage variety. Buy your seeds from reputable stores.

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