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Crops of 2016-What to plant in February

Clever farmers are doing an evaluation of the year 2015, noting the mistakes they made, while celebrating their major successes.

And as you plan your farming calendar in 2016, our in-house agronomist Elijah Lemomo, advises that you should make it the year of short-season crops.

Over the next one month, starting December 17, agronomist Lemomo will be telling you the kinds of crops you should be focusing on in each month of next.

This is the second installment of the 12-part series, dubbed Crops of 2016, the only planting and harvesting calendar you should have.

February

The ‘month of love’ is an opportune time to plant spices and food garnishes, the aim being to have the crop ready in time for the Easter festivities. Coriander (dhania) is one of the most-commonly used herb in food preparation in Kenya, and one that is easy to grow and manage. The herb takes 1.5 months to mature and has a long harvesting period.

The herb favours a warm to cool climate and does well in sandy loam soils that are rich in organic matter.

Planting

Corriander performs well when planted directly from seeds. Transplanting leads to early flowering. The seeds are planted in holes that are30cm apart and at a depth of 2.5-3.5cm. The seedlings spout about 10 days after sowing.

For optimum yields the crop requires regular watering, which ensures that there is an even distribution of moisture through the growing season.

Fertilizing

Coriander responds well to decomposed organic manure at 4 tons per acre. NPK fertilizer can also be used for top dressing, at 40kg per hectare.

Thinning

Thinning is recommended when plants are 5-7cm high to maintain a distance of 10-15cm from plant to plant.

Pests and diseases

Coriander is affected by very few pests and diseases, the common ones being fusarium wilt, powdery mildew and stem rot. However, these diseases can be effectively controlled by seed dressing, maintenance of field hygiene, crop rotation and use of disease free seeds. Broad-spectrum fungicides may be sprayed on when necessary.

Harvesting

Coriander matures within 1.5months and 4-5 cuts can be made during the growing season for green herb, an average of 3 tonnes per acre. The plants should be at least 10-15cm before harvesting starts. The largest herbs first should be cut first in order to encourage growth of the smaller herbs, for later harvesting.  

Sales

During the months of heavy demand, like April, the prices of coriander average Sh90 per Kg, in Nairobi.

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