Basil is an erect herbaceous annual plant, or sometimes grown as a short- lived perennial in some areas. It grows into a bushy shape up to about 50cm tall and some varieties may even grow taller. The stems are herbaceous in young tissue. However, these become woody as the plant matures. Basil Farming has good returns and easy to grow.
BASIL FARMING – PROPAGATION
Propagation is from seed but cuttings can also be planted. Commercial growers will plant basil seed by direct sowing or what is more common is to make seedlings in a protected environment or greenhouse and plant these out after three or four weeks.
BASIL FARMING – PLANTING
Planting of basil seedlings is done by hand and mechanically. Direct sow 10cm in the row to ensure a full stand of basil. Thin out later to the desire plant density. Plants should be spaced30cm apart in rows that are 50cm apart. This is between 65 000 and 67 000 basil plants per hectare. Some commercial farmers increase plant density between 80 000 to 100 000 plants per hectare.
BASIL FARMING – IRRIGATION
The Basil plant is very sensitive to moisture stress so it is very important to keep soil at the optimum capacity advised for the type of soil. Install moisture readers for constant monitoring. Stress will bring on flower, which is detrimental to production. Basil can be irrigated by sprinkler or drip. Drip is, however, best as it keeps the leaves dry. Wet foliage can cause fungus growth, which damages the leaves. Depending on the weather and temperature basil can grow on about 40mm of irrigation per week.
BASIL FARMING – GROWTH
From the time the basil seeds are planted to when the first harvest can be done is about ten weeks. Thereafter the basil can be harvested twice more. Cut the basil 15cm above the ground allowing enough stem for re – growth.
BASIL FARMING – FERTILIZATION
Do not over fertilize as this will hasten maturity and flowering. Fertilize according to soil analysis done on the soil prior to planting. About 200 to 300kg of 3.1.5 when plants are about 20cm high should be ample until the first harvest.
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