Farmers practicing pruning and thinning increase chances of getting up ten kilos of capsicum (also known as sweet pepper or Hoho) yields per tree as compared to five kilos if the crop is not well managed.
“During pruning, one retains the main stem with one other budding branch shooting from the stem. This gives the entire tree a vigorous growth due to reduced competition for the nutrients,” said David Gitonga, Oxfarm agronomist.
Unlike the popular view that more stems would yield more fruits, the agronomist said the quality is compromised, which will also affect the price of the produce.
According to Gitonga, pruning should be done every week to let the plant use less water and nutrients to make big fruits and of the same size.
At the same time, the excess fruits must also be removed soon after the bulbs are about pigeon-pea sized.
RELATED ARTICLE: Yellow capsicum has wider market, earns twice than red type
Removing the excess to remain with about eight to 10 healthy fruits reduces over-crowding, besides concentrating the nutrients to the few healthy produce.
Any leaves near the fruits must be defoliated. In addition to reducing the canopy to allow for fresh air circulation, the removal of the excess leaves destroys the hiding and breeding places of the pests.
Leaves also encourage emergency of buds that would grow to shoots.
RELATED ARTICLE: Simlaw Seeds new capsicum variety doubles yields
Defoliation starts after three weeks from transplanting until the end of the growing season. It has to be done weekly before the shoots before the leaves mature, leading to more wounds on the plant.
With staking, irrigation, fertigation, pest control and other practices can yield fruits of between 150g to 200g.
Supporting the fruits above the ground reduces incidences of pests and disease attack.
Harvesting starts from the fourth to six month depending on the variety.
RELATED ARTICLE: Yellow capsicum short supply shoots prices up
Storing in the shade after harvesting reduces ripening, allowing for more market access interventions.
From one acre on an open field, a produce of between 12 tonnes and 16 tonnes is possible given a single plant can yield an average of 10 kilos in its lifetime, Gitonga said.
Currently, red and orange capsicum sells at between Sh80 and Sh200 per kilo depending on the market rates.
In Nairobi, Indians at City Park and City market are the most targeted consumers by farmers and traders as they offer ready market for the produce.