Beetroot farming in Kenya is not quite popular as many individuals are not familiar with this fruit type. Beetroots grow just like onions and are commonly known by their scientific name as Beta Vulgaris.
Beetroots are always associated with many health benefits such as the source of Potassium, Vitamin C, fiber, manganese, iron, and lastly, folate (vitamin B9).
In addition to vitamin supplements, beetroots can be eaten raw in puddings, cooked in broth, or drunk in cocktails and fruit juices. Beetroot leaves are also edible, like spinach.
So, without wasting any more time talking about beetroot’s health benefits. How about we learn how to farm, harvest, and market it.
Beetroot Farming In Kenya: Soil Requirement
Beta Vulgaris does well in soils with a PH of 5.8-8.0. And as usual, it is always recommended to taste your soil for acidity levels if you plan on planting any crop.
Too many acid levels in the soil always affect most crops’ growth by causing a deficiency of essential nutrients.
Beetroot seeds are sown directly in the fields as there is no need for a seedbed. We, therefore, advise preparing and tilling your area to a depth of 15-20cm. You are also encouraged to remove dirt and other unwanted twigs, shrubs, decaying plants, and tree stumps.
Prepare the soil in the field by mixing it with compost manure and making terraces or fields by creating ridges.
Then lift the ridges upwards to maintain good air circulation and also a right way of transporting water. Get rid of dirt, including decaying plants.
Beetroot Farming In Kenya – Planting
Once the field is dirt-free, start preparing ridges 1m apart by adding cow dung manure and mixing well with the soil. Next, create rows 20-25cm apart on top of the seams. Start sowing the seeds to a depth of 1-2.5cm deep and 10cm apart in the rows created.
Next, cover the seeds with light soil and then use dry mulching to include your field. If there is no enough rainfall, you’ll need to water the area twice a day, that is, morning and evening. Beetroots take about 5-12 days to germinate.
I would recommend using cow dung manure every seven days and watering when it comes to fertilizer application. You can also use industrial fertilizer NPK (Nitrogen, Phosphorus and Potassium) in a good ratio.
Pests and Diseases Control
Let us look at some of the most common pests and diseases that affect beetroot farming in Kenya.
Aphids come in different colors and sizes. For example, some have a dark brown color while others are green.
Aphids are 2mm long and love sitting underneath the leaves while sucking and enjoying the leaf tissue’s fluids. This behavior, in turn, will lead to sheet twitching and drying.
Plant rust causes the crop to have tiny patches that are orange or red-brown. Most of the time, this type of disease doesn’t significantly affect the plant and can be ignored.
The most common symptoms of this type of the disease are when the leaf turns yellowish and turns completely brown. But then again, you can also see a grey color under the blade of the plant.
For an acre of land, a good farmer can harvest between 1000-1500kg of beetroots. Use your hands to pull the beetroots by the leaves from the ground.