Cabbage farming in Kenya is increasingly becoming popular. This is because it is a very popular vegetable and it is highly nutritious with good profit margins for farmers. The crop is also popular because it is less perishable compared with to vegetables. Cabbages are also easy to transport and will withstand poor handling associated with market places. This cabbage farming guide from Grekkon Limited will help you realize all the benefits in cabbage farming.
Cabbage Farming in Kenya requirements
Cabbage (Brassica oleracea )is a vegetable belonging to the cruciferae family. It is a cool season crop that requires growth temperatures range of 15- 20° C. Cabbages in Kenya grow well at altitudes of between 800 and 2,300 metres above sea level. The main cabbage growing areas in Kenya include Mt.Elgon ,Nandi, Uasin Gishu ,Bungoma, Molo ,Elburgon , Njambini, Meru, Nyeri, and Nyahururu, Elgeyo Marakwet highlands, Transzoia, Muranga etc It requires adequate and well distributed rainfall. Moisture levels are especially critical during the early stage of the crop growth. For best results, irrigation should be practiced.
Cabbage can be grown in a wide range of soil types. But the plants grow well when grown on well drained loamy soil having good moisture holding capacity. They can’t thrive well in highly acidic soils. They grow well in soil pH range between 5.5 and 6.5 with high organic matter content.
Bring the soil to a fine tilth by ploughing the land thoroughly. Plough 3-4 times then do levelling of soil. And add adequate organic fertilizers during the last ploughing. Add well decomposed animal and other organic fertilizers.
Successful cabbage farming in Kenya requires proper variety selection. When selecting variety, consider maturity duration, yield potential, tolerance and resistance to pests and diseases, good field holding capacity, uniform maturity to ensure a single harvest and preference in the market among other qualities. Common cabbage varieties in Kenya are: Victoria F1, Gloria F1, Pruktor F1, Pretoria F1, Zawadi F1, Queen F1, Karen F1 etc.
Spacing and transplanting
Transplant cabbages on raised beds of about 15cm high. Spacing depends with the varieties: 60cm x 60cm is recommended for large-headed varieties, 60cm x 45cm for medium sized and 30cm x 30cm for small heads.
Seeds a raised in nursery where they stay for 21-30 days. Optimum temperatures for seed germination is 25-30°. It is advisable to raise seedlings on germination trays using coco peat planting media. The coco peat has to be properly treated by washing for good germination rating. Cabbages seeds propagated on germination trays have 100% germination rating compared to soil.
Nutrition and Fertilizer Requirement
Fertilizer requirement will depend on the soil analysis done prior to planting. However the following is a guide
- Split applications is the most recommended for the total nutrient requirement of 120: 60: 60 kg NPK per acre
- 1st split of CAN at 10gms per plant. First top dressing (15-20 Days after Transplanting); 50 kg of CAN per acre
- 2nd split to be applied two weeks later at 5g per plant, avoid excessive nitrogen application as it causes
- slip heads. Second top dressing (40-45 Days after Transplanting): 100 Kg of Ammonium Sulphate/ acre
- +30 kg of MAP/ acre.
- Top dressing should be applied in bands and after each application earthing up of plants is necessary
Pests & Diseases
Cabbage farming in Kenya requires proper control of pest and diseases. Common pests of the cabbage plants are diamond back moth, leaf eating caterpillar, cutworm and sucking pest. Contact your local agriculture extension office for having more information about controlling all these pests.
Cabbage has shallow root system and hence requires frequent & light irrigations especially during head formation. The best irrigation system for cabbage is drip irrigation. Cabbage drip irrigation is designed to use less water, maximize yields and eventually increase farmers’ income. Cabbage drip irrigation systems are custom made to fit your farm and budget.
Why irrigate cabbages?
Irrigation for cabbages will always lead to higher yields, larger fruits, better quality fruits, zero incidences of blossom end rot and bigger fruits with no cracks. Drip irrigated cabbages have been shown to have more than 60% increase in yield than cabbages not properly irrigated or by using other forms of irrigation.
Components of cabbage drip irrigation kit
- 16mm drip lines with a spacing of 15cm or 20cm. Our drip lines have a flow rate of between 1.5L per hour to 2.2L per hour depending on the pressure. The drip lines have a wall thickness of 0.3mm and 0.4mm and are UV treated to last long.
- Main pipe and sub main pipes. Depending on the size of the farm, the main pipe could be as small as 32mm (1’’) to as large as 8’’. Small farms maintain a single sized piping system while larger farms have a main and a sub main piping systems.
- Filtration system. This consists of a scree filter or disc filter that traps dirt and other debris in water before entering the drip lines. The filter thus prevents blocking of the drip line emittters.
- Fittings and accessories. This consists starter connectors, rubbers, offtakes, drip to drip connectors and endcaps.
- Control valves. This consists for ball corks that create partitions in the farm. Drip irrigation for cabbages have to be sub divided into smaller sizes to ensure water flows in each and every corner of the farm uniformly and at the same time.
- An optional venturi fertigation system
How to irrigate cabbages
Cabbages are heavy consumers of water. You have to create proper irrigation scheduling for opening and closing. Do not over irrigate your cabbages as this may cause diseases.
During cold weather, reduce irrigation water. In hot weather, increase water supply to your cabbages. Using drip irrigation, you can irrigate cabbages between 20min to 30min depending on soil type and weather.
You can start early harvesting in case of high demand and price in the market. Do sorting and grading after harvesting depending on head size then transport them to market.