Rapeseed is one of the crops in demand in Kenya’s local markets. Agventure Limited, a conservation agriculture company is contracting farmers to grow Rapeseed also known as canola.
Canola is a cool climate crop suitable for high altitude areas (1800 to 2400m) above sea level receiving an annual rainfall of 700mm per annum. It does well in optimal temperatures between 15 to 20 degrees Celsius in areas like Timau, Endebess, Mau Narok and central Kenya.
The crop thrives in drained sandy loamy soil/loam soils with a pH level of less than 5.0 to avoid phosphorus fixation. Heavy soils are prone to crusting which results in uneven germination.
The seed bed is prepared to a fairly level ground to a fine and firm structure to enable the crop to compete with the weeds.
At planting, the optimum seeding rate is at 5.5kg per acre with a depth of 1-2cm in the soil and spacing of 18cm by drill or by broadcasting.
The main nutrients supplied for the crop at planting are nitrogen and phosphorus. In this, first test the soil as fertilizer application will be based on the nutrient level. 100kg/ha of Diammonium Phosphate (DAP) is required at planting. A 50kg bag of DAP costs an average of Sh3,000.
Rapeseed provides an ideal environment for diseases and insect pests build up and as such it is rotated with cereal crops like maize, wheat and barley. Crop rotation improves soil fertility.
The crop’s yield ranges from 750 – 1500kgs/acre. Rapeseed plant matures within three months.
The seeds are harvested when they have a moisture content of about 35 per cent. At this stage, the seeds are firm.
Winnowing is then done to remove unwanted materials. Dry the crop till it attains a moisture content of below 10 per cent to prevent losses.
Rapeseed is grown for its highly nutritious oil which produces omega 3, 6 and 9 fatty acids. Its cake is a by-product in livestock feeds formulation.