What is the ideal climate and soil requirements for growing avocados in Kenya? What are the best avocado varieties to plant in Kenya? How do you prepare the land for avocado farming, and what is the best time to plant avocados? How many hass avocado trees can you plant per acre in Kenya? What should you do once you have planted your avocado trees, and how do you irrigate avocado trees?
Avocado farming has been on the rise in Kenya, thanks to the high demand for avocados both locally and internationally. Kenya is among the top avocado producers in the world, and it’s an excellent opportunity for farmers to venture into this lucrative business. This article will guide you on how to grow avocados in Kenya, the best varieties to plant, the ideal climate, soil requirements, and how to care for your avocado trees.
Avocado performs best between 1500-2100m above sea level with 1000 mm of well-distributed rainfall. The climate is single-handedly the most important factor involved in growing avocados. You may have enough water and the best soil, but without suitable weather conditions, you will be at a loss.
The soil should be deep and free draining and have a pH of 5.5-6.5. Avocadoes do not like water settling at the base of its stem, so ensure you grow it on raised ground. Do not plant them on waterlogged soil.
It would be best if you got your soil tested because this is a long-term investment and you do not want issues cropping up 3 years down the line. You will blame yourself for something you could have prevented at the beginning.
The soil test will show all the nutrients available in your soil with recommendations on how to correct the ones with problems. This test will also help you determine which manure and fertilizer to apply.
Best avocado varieties to plant in Kenya
The choice of avocado variety to plant depends on the market demand, the climatic conditions of the area, and the farmer’s preference. Here are some of the best avocado varieties to plant in Kenya:
- Hass avocado – This is the most popular avocado variety in Kenya, and it’s highly preferred in the international market due to its superior taste and high oil content.
- Fuerte avocado – This variety is popularly grown in the highlands of Kenya, and it has a mild flavor and smooth texture. It’s also an excellent pollinator for the Hass avocado.
- Pinkerton avocado – This variety is also gaining popularity in Kenya due to its high yield and good flavor.
Avocado Land Preparation in Kenya
Prepare your land before growing avocadoes. Get a tractor and plow the land to eliminate any weeds or unwanted grass cover that will otherwise eat up your avocado soil nutrients.
Once this has been done, look for guys to dig for you holes where the seedlings will be put.
These holes are not the normal ones you are used to for planting flowers. These are 60cm (wide) x 60cm (deep) holes that will need a bit more pay for digging per hole. Digging costs vary between 40-50 Ksh per hole in Uasin Gishu.
Separate the top and sub-soils. Mix the topsoil with 20 kg (debe) of decomposed Farm Yard Manure (FYM) and 120 g of Double Superphosphate (46% P2O5) with the topsoil. You can now look for avocado seedlings to plant. Transplanting
The best time to plant avocados is when lengthy, heavy rains begin. Mid-April is the best time to start growing. These days, the weather tends to change quickly, so keep an eye on your meteorological calendar.
Avocado seedlings are commonly packaged in easy-to-handle black plastic bags. Carefully remove the black polythene and place the avocado in the center of the hole.
Irrigate your avocado seedling immediately after the transplant. Continue irrigating until the avocado tree is fully established and has started taking in nutrients from its surrounding. A young avocado plant can quickly die off if it lacks water during the first month after transplanting so be careful.
How many hass avocado trees per acre in Kenya
The standard spacing for Hass avocadoes in Kenya is 7m x 7m (80 plants per acre). If you have a small piece of land you can do 6m x 6m (120 plants per acre) or 5m x 5m (140 plants per acre). Reducing the plant spacing will give you a lot of pruning work in the future. You will also need to fertilize your plants more often due to nutrient competition.
Once on the farm
If you are growing Hass avocadoes, you need at least 10% Fuerte Avocadoes for effective pollination to occur. You will increase your yield if you follow these rules.
Bee hives are also important in orchards. Bees are the main agents of pollination in avocado farms and their presence also increases production. Be careful with pesticide use because these will chase away the bees. You need at least two beehives per acre of avocadoes.
How do you Irrigate Avocado trees in Kenya?
Irrigation is the best solution for you if you want to get high production curves every year. It will also help your crops grow quickly and have a higher chance of success.
You can buy a drip irrigation system from Makimara Limited and have it installed on your farm at a small fee.
Some of the benefits of drip irrigation on Avocadoes include:
- Uses water efficiently because water goes directly to the avocado’s roots.
- Weeds will not get your hard-earned water. This means your plants will be the only ones thriving during the dry season.
- Drip irrigation systems are easy to use. Once installed, all you have to do is turn on the drip connectors and your plants will get water immediately. This is a no-hassle irrigation system.
Field Management of Avocados in Kenya
The process of growing avocadoes does not end after transplanting. A lot of work still needs to be done. You need to weed and mulch your plants to ensure proper growth as you wait for harvesting.
Mulching – Mulch your soil to conserve moisture and add organic matter to the soil. This will also keep the soil cool and promote avocado growth. Mulch using dry leaves or well-dried grass. Do not use sawdust as a mulching agent because it decomposes and ties up nitrogen.
The use of herbicides in growing avocadoes for export is discouraged. Try practicing organic farming.
Intercropping Avocados in Kenya
Avocado farming is considered a waste of farmland by some. They can’t imagine waiting for 3 years to generate income when they could plant something like maize and earn after a year. This is not a problem because you can intercrop avocadoes with crops like Kale, Beans, Peas, and Cabbage as you wait for the avocadoes to mature and earn money.
Harvesting and Yield of Avocados in Kenya
Expect between 3.2 – 4.0 tons of avocado per acre per year. This is 250 – 300 kg per tree per year from the start of the 5th year.
The yield ranges between 10kg-20kg per tree during the early years but this moves up quite fast in subsequent years. Your true income will be achieved and solidified from the 4th year onwards.
Where will I sell my avocado fruits in Kenya?
Avocado is purchased by export companies such as Sunripe, Bio Farms, and Habex Agro among others. You can also sell hass avocado fruits at the local market which fetch a better price than the Kienyeji variety.
You can also extract oil yourself and sell or sell avocado oil processing companies in Kenya.
Avocado farming is a profitable venture in Kenya, and farmers can take advantage of the high demand for avocados both locally and internationally. To succeed in avocado farming, farmers should select the right varieties, prepare the land properly, and provide the necessary inputs such as water, fertilizer, and pest control. Proper field management, including pruning and training, is also essential for high yields and good-quality fruit. Finally, farmers should identify the best markets for their products and develop effective marketing strategies to ensure profitability.
- Kenya Agricultural and Livestock Research Organization (KALRO)
- Japan International Cooperation Agency
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