Capsicums are quite popular in Kenya. They can be found in all groceries in the country. They come in various colours that are appealing to the eyes. The popular colour varieties in the local market are green, yellow, and red.
Capsicum weather preferences
Capsicums love to grow in warm conditions. Seedlings that are sown during the dry season tend to grow faster than those grown during the rainy season. This is because the seeds need a certain degree of temperature to germinate. Most people are unaware of this knowledge and have had little luck trying to germinate seeds. Take this information seriously.
If you need to germinate your capsicum seeds during the rainy season then you are advised to grow them under a greenhouse structure. You don’t have to construct a big greenhouse-like the big companies. Just make a small one that can accommodate your small seedling trays and get started. Maisha ni kuenda pole pole and once you get your harvest money (If you cash in big), you can construct a slightly bigger one. Step by step.
Alright, which Capsicum varieties can be grown in Kenya?
Capsicum Seed Categories
- Determinate Varieties – Those grown in the open field.
- Indeterminate Varieties – Capsicums are grown in Greenhouses.
The following are the common varieties grown in Kenya:
California Wonder – Open Field
- Green blocky fruits
- Maturity 80 days from transplanting
- Fruit weight 100-120 grams
- Yield potential 6 tonnes per acre
- A very hardy, strong, and vigorous plant
- Deep green coloured fruits turn red at full maturity
Admiral F1 – Can be grown in Greenhouses and Open Field
- Maturity: Can be harvested green (75 days) or yellow (90 days)
- Blocky Fruits with thick walls and excellent quality.
- The fruit’s weight is 220 grams.
- Eventually turns yellow at full physiological maturity.
- Suitable for greenhouse and open field production.
- Yield: 25,000-30,000kg per acre (Open field), 50,000-60,000kg per acre (Greenhouse)
Superbell F1 – Open Field
- Very pungent short aromatic fruits with smooth walls
- Strong plants with upward bearing fruits
- Fruit weight: 170-200 grams.
- Maturity: 70 – 75 days from transplanting
- Yield Potential: 6-7 tonnes per acre
- Long harvest period
- Fruits mature from a medium green colour to red
How can I grow my own Capsicum Seeds?
Yes, you can. Capsicums are fairly easy to grow as long as it meets the right temperature requirements for germination.
Capsicum is normally raised in a nursery & transplanted but it can also be directly sown
- It can also be raised on seed trays for improved germination
- Seed Rate: 100g per acre
Capsicum Nursery Site Selection
- The nursery should be sited in a plot that has not been planted with a member of the Solanaceae family for the last 3 years.
- The nursery site should be well-drained.
Capsicum Nursery Establishment
- Prepare a nursery bed of 1 m width and of a convenient length
- Make drills on the seedbed at a spacing of 10 – 20 cm apart
- Thinly sow the seeds in the drills and cover lightly with soil
- Water the nursery regularly
- Prepare shade and cover with organic materials such as dry
- The shade protects young seedlings from exposure to the sun.
Capsicum Nursery Management
- Water the nursery regularly
- Harden the seedlings 1 – 2 weeks before transplanting by reducing the frequency of watering and gradually exposing the seedlings to direct sunlight
- Control of whiteflies is important since they transmit viruses to young Capsicum plants
- These insects can be blocked from reaching the seedlings by using an insect-proof net
How to Grow Peppers from Seedlings
Farmers may also buy seedlings from certified nurseries, or transplant capsicum seedlings they have grown from seeds by themselves.
What is the Appropriate Transplanting Time for Capsicums?
- Seedlings are transplanted out in the field at the 4 – 6 true leaf stage, usually 6 – 8 weeks after sowing
- Hardy transplants can be produced by restricting water and removing shade protection 1 week before transplanting
- It is recommended that transplanting should be done either early in the morning or late in the evening
Recommended Crop Spacing for Capsicums
- Plant Spacing: 60 cm×45 cm or 70 cm×30 cm depending on the variety
- Plant Population per Acre: range from 14,000 to 16,000
- Appropriate spacing produces short sturdy plants with a good root system
Fertilizer Application Rates for Capsicums
- The type of fertilizer and amount needed depends on soil analysis results
- You can use NPK fertilizer at planting. It contains Nitrogen, Phosphorous, and Potassium. You can also find NPK fertilizers that have micro-nutrients inside. This is a win.
- The fertilizer should be mixed thoroughly with the soil before planting.
- Capsicum crop should be top-dressed with organic and inorganic/chemical fertilizers to produce high yields
- The type and quantity of fertilizer depend on soil analysis
How to top-dress Capsicums
- 1st top-dressing is done with 40 kg per acre of CAN 2 –3 weeks after transplanting
- 2nd top-dressing is done with 80 kg per acre of CAN 4– 6 weeks after transplanting
- During flowering, high amounts of nitrogenous fertilizer should be avoided
Training and Staking Capsicums
Staking keeps the plants upright and also keeps the fruit away from the soil
- Staking materials: Wood stakes, bamboo, or any sturdy material
- Strings, plastic strips, or other material can be used for training the plant to the stake
- It keeps the canopy intact, thus preventing sunscald on the fruit
- It also prevents the plant from splitting during a heavy fruit load
- Staking can help minimize lodging
Capsicums Drip Irrigation in Kenya
Capsicums perform way better under drip irrigation. Water is essential to all plants, and its availability is crucial throughout the growing period. You can buy a drip irrigation system by ordering online from Makimara.
The benefits of a drip irrigation system in Capsicum farming are:
- Drip irrigation uses less water because it goes directly to the plant’s roots.
- Water is only used by capsicums and not weeds
- Your crops will have fewer waterborne diseases.
- Drip irrigation systems are easy to use and once installed, require minimum effort to operate.
Remove all weeds from your farm. They use a lot of soil nutrients and water from your crop. Keep your farm free from weeds at all costs. Manual weeding is best for organic practices.
Pests and Diseases
It is always good to take control measures for your crops in advance. Check your plants thoroughly and apply the necessary techniques to prevent pests and diseases.
Don’t buy any random chemicals from the agro-store. Consult your agronomist about which methods are safe and work best for you.
This information, coupled with the guidance of your agronomist, will help you get started with capsicum farming. It’s never easy to start a new business, but if you start it bit by bit, then all will be well. Remember that you are in this because of your love of farming. That is all you need. The rest will play itself out and the money will come. Success usually comes when you love what you do.