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    Vegetable farmers can now harvest up to 300 pods weighing 48kgs per year from a single spinach tree, thanks to the Swiss Chard ford hook spinach, a new variety in the Kenyan market by Amiran which can grow up to 2.5 feet
    High yielding
    This super variety yields 70 more pods than other varieties in the market which produces 218 pods per year on average. A part from high yield, the Swiss chard variety matures in up to 50 day after sowing, hence quick returns on investment. It can be refrigerated for up to 10 days, three days longer than other varieties hence commercially more viable.
    READ ALSO: 10ft sukuma wiki variety
    Growing conditions

    Unlike most spinach varieties that require well drained loamy soils rich in organic matters, the Swiss chard ford hook spinach variety can also do well in sandy loam soil with soil PH value of 6-6.8. This means, the variety can be grow in various parts of the country especially western, Rift valley, Central and parts of upper Eastern region.
    READ ALSO: High demand for Chinese cabbage in Kenya
    Planting

    An acre of land requires 32,000-40,000 seedlings with spacing of 45 x 45 or 60 x 45 or 60 x 60cm. Closer spacing results into smaller heat but high yield per unit area while wider spacing gives bigger heat but low production per unit area. Although for hotter areas larger spacing is desirable to reduce moisture stress.
    Use 200kg to 400kg of NPK fertilizer per acre in the ratio of 2:3:4 while planting depending soil fertility of the farm. This is followed by 70 to 90kg LAN per acre at four weeks and eight weeks.
    According to Johnston Makau, an Agronomist at Amiran Kenya Limited, spinach rarely witness pests and diseases, however, farmers are asked to be on watch out for diseases like bacterial spot, downy mildew and pest like nematodes and cutworms.
    Harvesting
    Small spinach leaves can be harvested with scissors by simply cutting the leaves at the stem. One way to do this is start harvesting the outer, older leaves first and then gradually working your way in to the center of the plant as those leaves mature. You can also just cut the whole plant off at the base. Harvesting spinach by this method will often allow it to re-sprout and give you another partial harvest

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    Arid and semi arid region farmers can grow a well performing new cassava variety required for starch extraction by Machakos county factory.

    Katune 990005, which has been developed by Kenya Agricultural and Livestock Organisation, performs well in dry regions and produces more a good quality and quantity of starch which Kiara Agro Limited factory is looking for.

    The cassava factory Director Pinal Patel says the variety is more marketable to starch-sourcing companies to meet the demand for the product.

    “Katune 990005 variety is more marketable. Because it produces white starch after processing, more consumers prefer this colour, which they associate with purity,” he said.

    Productivity

    Kenya imports about 25 tones of various forms of starch to meet the demand in the shelf, baking, breweries, binding glue, among other sectors.

    Increasing the production locally would save the country millions of shillings while given local farmers an alternative source of revenue.

    KALRO has not officially given the quantity yield per acre for Katuni variety. Going per similar breeds released recently, productivity is between 23 tonnes per acre to 28 tonnes per acre production.

    READ ALSO: Machakos factory looking for cassava

    The company buys starch at an average of Sh5 per kilo. Six kilogrammes of unprocessed starch release one kilogramme of starch.

    A farmer produces 25 tonnes of Katuni from one acre, they would earn up to Sh25,000.

    “My experience and research have shown that cassava have more starch if harvested during dry seasons. Planting should coincide with rains, while harvesting should be done when it is dry. A lot of water in the soil leads to loss of starch o even up to 40 per cent,” the director said.

    READ ALSO: Cassava cakes rake in cash for Vihiga youth group

    Thika 5 breed has more starch than katune, but the earlier cassava is brown, therefore, less searched for by white-loving consumers.

    Challenge

    To ease collection of raw cassavas from the few farmers already producing the crop, Patel has allowed them to group themselves. Collection is done from one point after and payment made. the buying from the groups also cuts middlemen channels, who he says reduce earnings for the farmers.

    He says the big challenge he is facing is the random production of the crop, since farms just want cassava without paying much attention to planting variety.

    For more details, please contact Oluoch on +254720251441.

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    Sorghum is one of the least commercialized crop in the country despite the great production potential and the market demand in the alcohol processing industry.

    This crop, which performs well in relatively poor soils, is also tolerant to drought. But those who are supplying processing companies like Kenya Breweries Limited have been contracted-still they cannot meet the demand, leading to importation.

    The company reports that it requires about 22 metric tonnes of sorghum annually, a demand it says is a 944 per cent increase last year.

    It is used in production of low-cow, but quality Senator Keg.

    READ ALSO Farmers scale-up sorghum production as breweries come calling

    Dual crop

    But it is easy to grow for both commercial and domestic consumption.

    Sorghum is a warm climate loving crop, with best results being recorded at temperatures of 25?C and 32?C.

    The grain does well in dry regions receiving about 400mm of rainfall per year.

    It does well in well drained loam sandy soils, with a PH of between 6 and 7.5. This means it requires slightly acidic to neutral soils in PH. Two tillage rounds are sufficient for planting; well drained soil would mean there is no water logging.

    At a seed rate of about 15 kilogrammes per acre a 25 cm row to row distance is most appropriate, with holes being between 2 cm and 3 cm deep.

    Advisable

    Locally, most farmers broadcast the sorghum together with finger millet.  It is not advisable. It would lead to less yields given that the two are short-term crops competing for similar nutrients and millet would suffer more because it is shorter than sorghum.

    Ten to 15 metric tonnes of farm yard manure are sufficient in supplying the soil with macronutrients. Sowing with nitrogen phosphorus and potassium containing fertiliser would give rise to energetic crop.

    Top dressing after one month of about 14 kilogrammes per acre would accelerate flowering.Sorghum is ripe for harvesting after 65-75 days, with an acre estimated to yield about 400 kilogrammes under good management practices.

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