Cabbage Farming in Kenya
Cabbage Farming in Kenya – Requirements
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.
Climate:- The crop does well in cooler climates with adequate and well-distributed rains. It can also flourish under irrigation in the lower altitudes.
Weeding:- The crop should be kept free of weeds especially in its younger stages to avoid losses due to competition from weeds; which can also be a source of pests and should be controlled at all times.
Spacing:- A 60cm by 60cm spacing is recommended. The further apart you plant the cabbage, the larger the head will develop.
Fertilizer applications should be split into two; at planting and top dressing or even into three after every six weeks. Application of homemade liquid fertilizer made from comfrey leaves at transplanting and when the heads begin to form will give the crop an extra boost.
To arrive at the exact amount of nutrients that should be applied to meet the crop’s requirements, the following factors should be considered:
- The nutrient level in the soil and rocks
- Nutrients that can be derived from previous crop residues.
- Timing of nutrient application, for crops, to make the best use of the fertilizers.
- Soil type: this affects fertilizer use efficiency. There’s 70 percent efficiency in light sandy soils, 60 percent in medium, clay, silt, organic and peaty soils and 55 percent efficiency in shallow soils over chalk and limestone.
- Estimation of nutrients gained from the use of organic manures
- Nutrients that must be replaced in order to maintain the soil index level
- The sources and cost involved in deciding the particular fertilizer one needs to produce the 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 Varieties in Kenya
There are three varieties of cabbages in the country namely smooth-leafed green, smooth-leafed red, and crinkled-leafed green, also known as savoy cabbage. The most popular example are Gloria F1 hybrid, Copenhagen market, and golden acre.
Cabbage Farming in Kenya – Factors to consider when choosing a variety
- Head size
- Head weight
- Yield potential
- Pest and disease tolerance/resistance
- Market availability
Cabbage Farming in Kenya – Practices
Nursery preparation:- 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.
Seed rate:- The seed rate is 300gm/ha. Healthy vigorous seedlings should be transplanted when they are 10-12cm high, about 4-6 weeks old.
Manure application:- 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 at 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.
Topdressing:- 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. Has the soil tested for nutrient status were possible before planting?
Weeding:- 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.
Cabbage Farming in Kenya – Pests and Diseases
Typical cabbage diseases are a blackleg, black rot or leaf blight, clubroot, damping-off, and stem rot. To avoid soil-borne diseases, don’t plant cabbage-family plants (Brussels sprouts, kale, cauliflower, and broccoli) in the same area more than once every three years.
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Cabbage pests include:- caterpillars, aphids, and flea beetle. To control these pests, check for caterpillars and aphids regularly and dust your cabbages with wood ash from the start to avoid the pests. Cold season planting minimizes caterpillar infestation. Also, keep the soil moist or mulched to avoid flea beetle damage. Aphid infestation is a sign of heat or water stress and inadequate nutrient supply.
Cabbage Farming in Kenya – Harvesting
Harvest during cool morning hours to avoid cracking of the heads. Grade and pack cabbage vegetable heads in crates, arrange with the stem end facing the outer wall of the crates for transportation. This will avoid bruising the vegetable head. Cabbage heads can store for some time at 0ºC and 95% relative humidity. Varieties with good storability grow hard compact heads e.g. Copenhagen market cabbage variety. Depending on the variety, soil nutrient status, water availability and environmental conditions the vegetable yields range from 40-100tons/ha
Frequently Asked Questions About Cabbage Farming in Kenya
How long does it take for a cabbage head to form?
The common green cabbages form heads more quickly than the huge Savoy cabbage. You can expect to see heads in approximately 71 days with green cabbage. Red cabbage takes slightly longer and Nappa cabbage will form small heads in only 57 days.
How much space does a cabbage plant need?
Cabbage is easy to transplant. Set plants so that 1-2″ of the main stem is buried. Space according to directions on the Bonnie label. Generally, this is 12 to 24 inches apart in a row, depending upon the variety and the size of the head it makes.
How many cabbages can you plant per hectare?
Plant populations of 40 000 to 45 000 per hectare are suggested for large-headed types while for cultivars with medium-sized heads, populations of 55 000 to 65 000 plants per hectare are said to be ideal. For baby cabbage, populations of 80 000 to 100 000 plants per hectare are recommended.
What is the recommended spacing for planting cabbage between the rows?
The most popular spacing for cabbage production is 50cm in the row and 60cm between the rows. A staggered planting regime is recommended to reduce competition between plants. The soil should be irrigated b before transplanting so as to reduce plant stress.
Is cabbage farming profitable in Kenya?
This fact alone makes it a very profitable crop in Kenya because its demand is very high at all times. They are normally grown from seed. Its seed is widely available in many agro-stores in Kenya.
Does Cabbage need a lot of water?
Cabbage requires consistently moist soil. While it won’t tolerate sitting in wet, soggy soil, it needs regular watering to produce its leafy heads. Water your cabbage once a week, applying 1 1/2 inches of water to the soil.
What causes multiple heads in cabbage?
An insect that can occur in summer and fall planting that attacks the apical meristem is the Cabbage webworm. This damage is more severe in cabbage because it can cause multiple heads that render the plant unmarketable.