Agriculture

Apple Farming in Kenya

The Apples may be propagated both by seed and through the grafting procedure.

However, growing from seed doesn’t result in the same crop as the origin but grafts retain their properties and taste like that of the parent plant. It’s advised to use grafted apple seedlings to establish the apple orchard.

There are three necessary elements to consider while growing apple; climatic conditions, soil properties, and the choice of variety. They require cold conditions to be fruitful. Areas with an average temperature range from 10-18 Degrees Celsius are good for apple.

The Fertile and well-drained soils are essential to get a good crop of an apple plant. It is as well important to feed the apple plant as it grows. The  Apples tolerate a pH range of 6.0-7.0 however, prefer a pH range of 6.5-6.8. There are over 7500 apple species in the world but not all may be grown in Kenya.

In Kenya, apples grow well in the highland regions surrounding Mount Kenya with the Wambugu apple being the chosen and most adopted variety. The regions currently under apple production in Kenya are Kitale, Kiambu, and Nandi.

In Kenya, the most popular types are disease-resistant types that include, Enterprise, Liberty, Goldrush, Jona free, Pristine, and William Pride that are resistant to apple scab and fire blight.

It is expedient for a farmer to always consider planting a pollinator type in your apple orchard since most utmost apple varieties are self-sterile.  Anna and Golden Dorset possess a matching flowering pattern and produce a good sequence in an orchard. Anna, Golden Dorset, and Winter banana as well make a combine well for a good crop.

Start with land preparation by removing all trees, vegetative matter, and stumps in the field. Dig one meter by one meter by one-meter pits one month before planting your apple and use a basin of farmyard manure mix with topsoil and fill in each pit quickly after pitting.

Plant your seedling leaving the graft union three inches or three figures above the ground. Arrange the apple plants in a rectangular or square layout spaced at 4mx3m or 3mx3m. This gives you some space to intercrop. However, on steep slopes, make terraces for every line of plants.

Remove any sprouts underneath the graft union and don’t allow the rootstock to grow at any time. This suppresses the plant (scion) and might result in a scion abortion. Weed the apple orchard always either using strip or ring weeding. To remove the orchard of all vegetation to reduce soil erosion.

Intercrop the orchard with annuals crops such as cowpeas, beans, and soya beans. This provides you economic advantages as you wait for the apples to grow and become productive which may take up to 3-4 years.

Remove all branches from the ground to 0.5m including those under and above the graft union. And let only a single plant at this point. Be on the look for pests such as aphids, mites, rodents, ants, leaf miners, and for diseases such as powdery mildew, Scab dark or black spots on leaves, and fire blight on burnt leaves.

The health benefits of apples

  • Apples are rich in soluble fiber that has been shown to reduce intestinal disorders.
  • Helps in the control of insulin levels by releasing sugar level slowly in the bloodstream.
  • It Lowers the cholesterol levels and the risk of respiratory diseases
  • It Cleans and detoxifies the body
  • It Strengthens the heart and quenches thirst
  • It’s good to control obesity

Climatic conditions

  1. They do well in cold conditions
  2. Apples require cold conditions to be productive.
  3. Apples tolerate a pH range of 6.0-7.0. There are more than 7,500 apple varieties in the world but not all may be grown in Kenya.
  4. Most Farmers mostly grow red and green varieties here.
    In Kenya, Apples thrive well in highland regions. The regions currently under apple production in Kenya are Kiambu, Kitale, and Nandi.

Management

Apples Require pruning on the first two to three years to attain a desirable shape of the tree and as well remove the unwanted branches, it requires a low temperature of 13 degrees to break dormancy but early dormancy may as well be triggered through the use of chemicals or mechanically through defoliation of leaves. 

Control Pest & Diseases

The Major pests are birds, aphids, thrips, spider mites, fruit fries, and codling moth

Most of the diseases include apple scab, powdery mildew, and armillaria root rot

Preventative control for these pests and diseases is ensuring certified seedling that is free, as well as observe high-standard hygiene in your garden.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can apples grow in Kenya? 

Yes, apples can be grown in Kenya. There are over 7500 apple types in the world but not all may grow in Kenya and as well in Uganda. In Kenya, Apples thrives well in the highland regions surrounding Mount Kenya with the Wambugu apple being the preferred and commonly adopted variety. The regions currently under apple production in Kenya are Kiambu, Kitale, and Nandi.

How long do apples take to mature?

Apples may grow from 10 to 30 feet tall and nearly as wide. They are moderately fast-growing, but growth slows with age. Apple trees may live for 100 years or more. Apple trees bloom in the spring, set fruit, and they take from 100 to 200 days to reach harvest depending upon the variety.

How many fruits can an apple tree produce?

From 0 to over 800 apples. A very good yield for a well-cared apple tree grown in a backyard is about 80-150 fruits per season.

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