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Farming with Appaloosa Horses

                                         

The ” Appaloosa” horse is a beautiful full – sized North America horse breed and its distinctive features are its leopard – complex spotted coat and oftentimes striped hooves. The Appaloosa has several traits which taken together are unique to the horse breed. These include mottled skin, striped hooves, white sclera around the eyes, and of course the distinctive appaloosa coat patterns. The appaloosa comes in a variety of color patterns, including snow- capped blanket, leopard, blanket with spots, varnish roan and snowflake.
The Appaloosa remains a versatile horse. It is used in working cattle and rodeo competitions, pleasure rides, long – distance trail riding, racing and a variety of other Western and English riding sports and activities. Additionally, the appaloosa breed is often featured in movies and television because of its unusual markings.
Appaloosas require a standard horse diet of fresh grass, quality hay, grains, and some fruits and vegetables, as occasional treats. They may also need some vitamin and mineral supplementation, especially if they cannot graze freely in pasture. The amount of food they need depends on their size, and activity level.
The Appaloosa breed is spreading its wings all over Africa and studs have been founded across the South African borders and even into the African region and they can only bode well for the future of the appaloosa breed in Africa.

                                                

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Vertical Farming Operations

                                                      

Vertical Farming is the practice of growing crops in vertically stacked layers. It often incorporates controlled – environment agriculture which aims to optimize plant growth, and soil less farming techniques.

There are 4 critical areas in understanding how vertical farming works:

1. Physical Layout.

2. Lightning.

3. Growing Medium and

4. Sustainability features

Physical Layout – The primary goal of vertical farming is producing more foods per square meter. To accomplish this goal, crops are cultivated in stacked layers in a tower life structure.

Lightning – A perfect combination of natural and artificial lights is used to maintain the perfect light level in the room. Technologies such as rotating beds are used to improve lightning efficiency.

Growing Medium – Instead of soil, aeroponic, aquaponic, or hydroponic growing mediums are used. Peat moss or coconut husks and similar non – soil mediums are very common in vertical farming.

Sustainability – The vertical farming method uses various sustainability features to offset the energy cost of farming. In fact, vertical farming uses 95% less water.

Types of Vertical Farms

1. Vertical farms in buildings – Abandoned buildings are repurposed for vertical farming, but it’s not necessary that such buildings be used often. Depending on the requirements new buildings are also used to construct vertical farms.

2. Shipping Container Vertical Farms – Old or recycled shipping containers are equipped with LED lightning, vertically stacked farms, climate controls and monitoring sensors. Such types of farms can save space and get a higher yield in the process.

3. Underground Vertical Farms – Also known as “Deep Farms”, these types of vertical farms are built in underground tunnels, abandoned mine shafts or any subterranean environment. Such Farms can produce 7 to 9 times more food than a conventional farm.

                                                      

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Successful Lettuce Farming

                                                                                   

Lactuca sativa, commonly known as lettuce, is a member of the Asterateae family, grown as a leaf vegetable. The origins of lettuce can be traced to the Mediterranean basin from where it spread to the rest of the world. It has been cultivated as a food source for thousands of years and is popular as a salad ingredient all over the world.

Lettuce is grouped into four classes namely:

1. Crisphead or Iceberg Lettuce

This type is widely grown in the country and it is characterized by firm heads and crisp, curly leaves. The outer leaves are dark green, while the inner ones are pale and lack chlorophyll.

2. Butterhead Lettuce

The butterhead lettuce forms a head that is somehow similar to that of cabbage in shape and has soft, waxy, flexible leaves. It is sensitive to hot weather.

3. Loose – leaf Lettuce

This group does not form heads and is characterized by soft leaves. It grows well both in the open field and under protection and can be shipped over long distances.The cos lettuce has a loose head with narrow soft leaves.  The outer leaves are dark green, coarse and have heavy ribs while the inner is lighter.

Soil Requirements

The plant grows well on a wide variety of soils ranging from light sand to heavy clay, whoever, best results are obtained on fertile loam’s that are rich in organic matter. A pH between 5.5 and 7 is optimum. Lettuce should be grown on soils with a high water – holding capacity and proper drainage for good root growth and plant performance.

                                               

Planting

Lettuce is regularly sown directly in the field to a depth of 10 – 15mm. The seedlings are later thinned out to the desired spacing and they are sometimes used for transplanting. Seedlings for transplanting may also be raised in seed – trays or seedbeds and transplanted about five weeks after sowing.

Irrigation

Lettuce has a shallow root system and as such requires frequent but lighter irrigation’s. The roots penetrate the soil to a depth of only 300mm. Water should be applied throughout the growing period and reduced when the heads become full. A water shortage tends to promote bolting.

Harvesting

Lettuce is harvested by hand by cutting off the plant just above the soil surface to keep most of the outer leaves around the head. Harvesting should be done very early in the morning because lettuce wilts rapidly.

                                                                    

 

 

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Sustainable Timber Farming

                                                                           

” Commercial Forestry” is much like any other farming practice. The crops are considered a renewable resource, used to make sawn timber, pulp, paper, poles, mining timber , matches, charcoal and cellulose – based  products. Specific species of trees are planted, harvested and replanted in sustainable rotation. This ensures that there are trees at various stages of growth and maturity, ready to harvest for generations to come.

Forestry is more than the science of planting, managing and caring for timber plantations. It’s also about looking after the landscape which timber share with other animal and plant species as well as the people and communities that the Foresting and Forest Products Industries touches.

LOGGING

Logging is the process of cutting down and removing trees from the forest. In forestry, the phrase is used to describe log making, which includes cutting the branches off, removing the bark and cutting trees into parts. In some cases, logging may refer to the whole logistical process of felling, processing, removing and transporting trees from the forest to the sawmill.

LOGGING IMPORTANCE

Below are reasons why logging is important:

1. Minimizes competition for resources – Logging is important because it reduces crowding in the forest. Crowded trees must compete for nutrients such as sunlight and water. The younger and shorter trees may not receive the sunlight they need because of the overcrowding of the older trees.

2. Boosts the health of the trees –  Logging can keep trees healthy. When logging, the parts of trees that have diseases are removed and the remaining trees can grow without the threat of any disease.

3. Provides necessary raw materials – Trees are a raw material and is important for our survival. They are useful in making furniture, supply materials for building homes, and are useful for making many everyday items. All of these things require logging.

4. Reduces forest fires – Logging helps to reduce forest fires. If there’s a lightning – triggered fire in a crowded forest, fire will spread rapidly, unlike when the trees have been thinned.

5. Enhances undergrowth – Selective logging is important, as it allows more sunlight and air to reach the forest floor, encouraging the growth of vegetation under larger trees.

Assistance for small – scale timber operations

The timber industry falls under the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (Daff), and to assist small – scale timber operations, the department has established the Forestry Enterprise Development (FED) Programme. The aim of the FED programme is to create opportunities for people to utilize forests indigenous forests, woodlands and plantations and forest – based resources for economic growth, income generation/ job creation in a manner that will take people from a subsistence livelihood system into the market economy

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DATES FRUIT FARMING

                                                         c

Commercial dates farming business is growing day by day. “Phoenix dactylifera” known as date or date palm, is actually a flowering plant species in the palm family, Arecaceae. It is cultivated for it’s edible sweet fruit. Dates are the biggest oasis and desert cash crop. They are harvested from the palm trees and dried out in the sun and stored for the wintertime when they supply food for a family and assist herds of camels, goats and sheep.
Date palm is the oldest tree cultivated on earth. They are a excellent source of calcium, sugar, iron and potassium. They are also used in many social and religious festivals. They have many health benefits like relive constipation, reduce heart disease, control diarrhea and help in pregnancy. It is also used for making different products such as chutney, pickles, jam, juice, and other bakery items.

SOIL

It can be cultivated in any soil, don’t have any specific requirement. But for good growth and yield, it required well drained, deep sandy loam soil with a pH in the range of 7-8. Avoid soils having a hard pan up to 2meter below soil layer. Saline and alkaline soils are also suitable for cultivation but yield obtained is low.

PROPAGATION

Propagation of the date palm is done with the help of suckers as propagation with seeds is impractical. Select suckers or offshoots from the mother plant. Suckers are obtained from 4 or 5th year after planting. Ideal weight of suckers should be 15 – 20kg.

DATE CULTIVARS

The most popular variety in South Africa is the “Medjool Date”. Other popular varieties are Barhi, Deglet Noor, Sayer and Zahdi.

GROWTH

It normally take a date palm almost 2 years to be ready to plant out into the field. Another 4 years to produce a reasonable crop and up to 12 years to reach full production of 80kg and more per tree. Production can go on for 100 years but does decline around 50 years.
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CANNABIS & HEMP FARMING

                                                 

HEMP – a low type of  Cannabis sativa with a low level of the Unnibinoid THC – is a wind – pollinated, annual broad-leaf plant with a taproot. It is cultivated for its production of long fibers for textiles, hemp seeds for oil and other uses. 

Most of Africa’s climate is favorable to cannabis cultivation. The plant likes warm and sunny weather and does not do so well in the cold. Certain cannabis strains can also thrive in extreme heat. Some growing techniques such as dry farming allows farmers to grow the crop using mostly rainfall with minimal additional watering if the climate conditions are right. Drip irrigation is also a cheap and efficient way to water cannabis crops in Africa.

The cannabis plant grows in stages. First come the initial germination and seeding. Then, the plant enters the vegetative phase and produces most of its leaves and branches. After several weeks, the plant can enter the flowering stage. If the plant is a male plant, it will grow pollen sacks. If it is a female plant, it will produce flowers (buds) that can be smoked or processed into tinctures and oils.

Up until 29/10/2021, it was illegal to grow hemp in SA. After careful consideration, the Minister of Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development announced the opening of the application process for Hemp and Cannabis permits. This means that Agripreneurs/farmers are now able to apply for a permit to farm hemp and cannabis as an “agricultural” crop.

ARE HEMP AND CANNABIS THE SAME THING?

Hemp and Cannabis (marijuana) are not the same things. Although they fall under the same genus, Cannabis, Hemp (Cannabis savita L) is very much for “industrial ” or agricultural use, whereas marijuana (also known as dagga) can be used for “medicinal” or recreational purposes. The following options are available for interested agripreneurs/farmers:

  • Cannabis farmer – growing and cultivating hemp.
  • CBD or Hemp manufacturer – this could include producing CBD Oils or Hemp textiles.
  • CBD or Hemp product developer – creating products using CBD Oils or Hemp textiles.
  • Hemp or CBD product distributor – selling CBD or Hemp products to consumers.

SOIL PREPARATION

Hemp and Cannabis grows best in well – drained loam soil with a pH of between 6 and 7.5 with abundant organic matter – at least 3,5%. Dense, poorly- drained clay soil is not suitable and sandy soil’s need for extra irrigation and fertilization may be uneconomical. Seedbed preparation is important; firm and fine is best in order to plant hemp/cannabis seeds between 203 cm deep. Hemp is sensitive to frost during germination and requires water during the first 6 weeks after planting.

HARVESTING

Harvesting hemp for fiber is easier than harvesting hemp for the hemp seed. To harvest hemp grown for fiber, implements used for the harvesting of forage crops can be used, which perform well without major modifications. A straight sickle mower is the most suitable for harvesting hemp for textile applications. This implement leaves cut stems intact, laid neatly and organized directly on the ground. Haybines do not work well as the long stems wrap on the reel. Cut no shorter than 10cm above the soil surface.

                                          

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Sustainable Tarragon Farming

                                                          

Tarragon belongs to the sunflower family and it is species of the perennial herb. Tarragon is a much – favored culinary herb plant, with leaves have a slight anise flavor. There are mainly two types of Tarragon. The French Tarragon one is more widely available and has a stronger flavor than the Russian variety. The French Tarragon is the more popular variety and should be planted in a place where you can easily manipulate the soil and control the temperature levels and amounts of water it receives.

Tarragon provides fragrant leaves that can be harvested and preserved for cooking year – round. Grow Tarragon in well – drained, sandy loam soil. It will tolerate poor and nearly dry soil. Tarragon does not grow well in cold, wet, or compacted soil. Tarragon plants prefers a soil pH level of 6.0 to 7.3 and it does not grow well in acidic soil.

PROPAGATION

For the French variety, propagation must come from the root division or stem cuttings, as the seeds are sterile  which means they’re not viable for planting. French Tarragon plants don’t propagate by using Tarragon seeds, but rather through stem cuttings or root system division. Usually, the French Tarragon plant can only be grown by propagation or by buying an establish plant.

PLANTING

Remove the soil in an area slightly deeper than the root ball, and twice as wide. Amend the soil with plenty of organic material such as mature compost, worm castings, or well- rotted manure, some liquid – retaining material like perlite or peat moss, and a couple of tablespoons bone meal. Set the root ball in place, fill in the hole, and then cover the crown with the defamed soil, then firm in place. Water gently to settle.

WATERING

Water requirements for your Tarragon will mainly depend on the weather conditions and the maturity of the plant. These plants can cope in dry ground, and care must be taken not to over-water as this will diminish growth and flavor intensity.

It requires 5 to 6 weeks after transplant to harvesting.

                                                 

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Chickpea Farming

                             

Chickpea is one of the field crops which is not grown widely in our country. Unimproved chickpeas are grown as hedge plants in home gardens in few parts of some Provinces such as Mpumalanga and Limpopo.

Planting

Chickpeas are usually grown as winter crops, between late April and May. The proper seeding depth is 2,5 to 5cm. Chickpeas should be sown in moist soils to provide the necessary moisture for proper germination and inoculation.

Soil

The plant requires fertile, sandy-loam soil with good internat drainage and they do not tolerate water – logged conditions. Chickpeas require a soil pH of 6.0 0 7.0. It prefers soil with good residual soil moisture content or storage.

Product Benefits

Chickpeas are high in protein, carbohydrates and fibre, low in fat and cholesterol and are considered one of the earliest cultivated vegetables. They are consumed as a dry pulse crop or  as green vegetables, Chickpeas are added to many dishes to improve their taste, e.g. desert, salads, and soup. When mixed with other pulses, they can also serve as an appetizer.

Harvesting

Chickpeas are typically straight out, meaning they are not swathed before combining. Timing is very important when harvesting chickpeas. An over ripened crop can lead to a decrease in yield while harvesting a crop too young may lead to increased chance of green seed in crop which yields a lower grade.

Watering

Chickpeas can tolerate droughts very well, being the most resistant to shortage of water. The only time there is a greater need for water is when buds form during flowering.

Harvesting

Fortunately, chickpeas ripen uniformly, so it is easy to determine when to chop, given that its pods do not shoot when ripe. Harvesting is done by machines, i.e. adapted grain bean harvesters.

                     

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Bush Bean Farming

                                            

Beans come in one of two types – bush beans and pole beans. Bush Beans differ from pole beans in the fact that bush beans don’t need any kind of support to stay upright. Pole Beans, on the other hand, need a pole or some other support to stay upright. Bush Beans are shorter beans that only grow to about 2 feet in height, while pole beans grow to about 8 – 10 feet in height.

Bush Beans can be further broken down into 3 types:

  1. snap beans – pods are eaten.

  2. green shelling beans – beans are eaten green.

  3. dry beans – beans are dried and then rehydrated before eating.

SOIL

Beans grow best in full sun, planted in well – drained and warm soil. Prepare soil ahead of time. When planting, add a mature or aged compost and this should be all the fertilizer you need if you are starting with a healthy soil. Beans will do best with a soil PH of 5,5 – 5,8. Beans are very sensitive to acidic soils.

PLANTING

Plant beans anytime between 10 – 28 days before the last frost date and 80 – 133 days before the first frost date. Sow beans where they are to grow, their supports, or, for bush types, four to 6 inches (10 – 15cm) apart with 18 inches (45cm) spacing between rows. Bush Beans should be planted in linear rows to support each other. Use a hoe to scratch out rows or dig individual planting holes with a trowel. Drop in two to three seeds per hole, so they fall about an inch (2cm) apart, and are two inches (2,5cm – 5cm) deep.

WATERING

Water in the morning so the plants can dry rapidly and avoid fungal disease. Water moderately to 1/2 inch of water per week, avoid watering the plant tops. Beans require a minimum of 400 to 500mm rain fall during its rowing season but totals of 600 – 650mm is considered ideal. 

 CROP ROTATION

After harvesting your beans, plant your cabbages on the same field, as beans leave a lot of nitrogen in the soil and this will help you harvest healthy and big cabbages.

                                             

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SAFFRON PRODUCTION

                                                     

Saffron is collected from the blossoms of Crocus sativus(Iridaceae) commonly known as saffron crocus or saffron bulbs. It is propagated by bulbs called corms. Each corm forms new bulbs, and this is how the plant multiplies. The process is tedious and meticulous. This explains why saffron spice came to be so precious as to be called the “red gold”.

SOIL

The Crocus  sativus grows in many different soil types but thrives best in calcareous, humus – rich and well-drained soil with a pH between 6 and 8. Saffron corms can also  grown in dry or semi-dry soil types. However, you need to keep in mind that during periods of drought in autumn and spring, you need to be able to irrigate the land. If you plant the saffron corms in wet or semi-wet soil types you must be sure that your land is well – drained to prevent corms from rotting or getting infected during periods of wet weather.

PLANTING

When planting saffron virgin patch of land, corms for the first time, choose a virgin patch of land, that is, no other tubers or saffron corms have been planted there before, if possible. Before planting, it is advisable to till the soil 20 to 50 centimetres deep to keep the planting beds loose and well – aired, incorporating organic fertilizer during the process. Saffron crocuses are sun- worshipping plants so they love to be planted in the dry open fields rather than in the shade.

WEED CONTROL

Mulching will control the weed growth to some extent. Plants should be mulched with saw dust. Weedicides can be used to check the complete weeds in the saffron field.

FERTILIZERS

Farmers should apply about 35 tonnes of well decomposed farm yard manure in the field before planting. Annual fertilizer application of 20kg “N”, 30 kg “K” and 80kg “P” per h/a is beneficial in autumn and again  immediately after flowering.

YIELD

Generally,  150 to 160 Saffron flowers are needed to make 1 gram of dried saffron. Usually, during the 1st year of plantation 60 -65% of corms will produce 1 flower each and in the subsequent years each corm will produce about 2 flowers.

BENEFITS

Saffron is being used in culinary as well as medicines. Saffron is mainly used in culinary seasoning and to get colour, cottage cheese, Biryanis, meats, liquors, cordials, cakes, confectioneries, breads and Mughlai dishes. Saffron is used commercially in perfumes  and cosmetics. When it comes to medicinal use, Saffron is used in fevers, Ayurvedic treatment to  heal arthritis, impotence and infertility. 

       

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MAIZE FARMING & PRODUCTION

                                     

Maize is the most important grain crop in South Africa, being both the major feed grain and the staple food for the majority of the South Africa population. About 60% of the maize produced in South Africa is white and the other 40% is yellow maize. Yellow maize is mostly used for animal feed production while white maize is primarily produced for human consumption.

PRODUCTION

Maize is planted from October to December, after enough rain has fallen to let the seed germinate. There is a great variation in planting time between the eastern and western production regions, because of differences in temperatures, rainfall and the duration of the growing season. It can take anything between 90 to 120 days for maize to grow to its harvest period, depending on the variety and climatic conditions.

HARVESTING

Maize can be harvested by hand with a sickle, but are harvested with machines on commercial farms where farmers need to harvest hundreds of hectares within a specific time. Maize is generally left in the field until the moisture percentages reach between 12,5% to 14%, but it can be harvested with a dry matter content of 30 – 38% if it will be used to make silage.

SOIL

Maize needs a dry soil in the spring, but not a soil type that will dry out too much in late spring when the young plants are developing. Growing maize on heavy, day – type soils is probably the biggest handicap when trying to get the best out of this crop because of the difficulty in creating the correct seed – bed in the spring. Medium loams that are easy to work with in the spring, free-draining and will warm up early in the season to enable the young plants to get the best possible start are the most favoured. Very free-draining and light sandy soils can be too extreme.

CROP NUTRITION

Nitrogen is the driver and a lot of crops just don’t get enough because of an over- estimation of what  the slurry can provide.

Maize requires:

  • 180 kg/ha of potash.

  • 40 kg/ha of phosphate.

  • 150 kg/ha of Nitrogen.

Ideally, the application of nitrogen should be split with 75% in the seedbed and the remaining 25% applied at the 1-3 leaf stage. This will help the crop get through its yellow phase often seen at emergence.

                                               

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CLEOME FARMING?

                     

Cleome (Cleome gynandra) is a widespread herb that occurs in South Africa from Limpopo to Namibia. Cleome gynandra is a species of Cleome that is used as a green vegetable. It is known by many common names like Shona cabbage, African cabbage, spiderwisp, cat’s whiskers, chin saga, and stinkweed.

Cleome belongs to the Capparaceae family. This herbaceous, erect, and annual plant grows to a height of between 0,5m and 1,5m, depending on the environment. It is a branched plant, sometimes becoming woody with age.

TEMPERATURE

Cleome is sensitive to cold and does not grow well when temperatures drop below 15ºC. It grows well when the temperature is above 27ºC. Because of its tropical origin, cleome is believed to be day-length – insensitive, but some cleome species are facultative long – day species (not restricted to a particular function).

SOIL REQUIREMENTS

Cleome prefers well – drained medium – textured soils and does not grow well in poorly drained or heavy clay soils. It also prefers sandy loam soils, rich in organic matter and responds well to well – decomposed manure. Flowering is delayed when adequate manure is available, allowing more larger leaves to develop.

PLANTING

Seeds are planted at a shallow depth to ensure emergence and a good field stand. Plant seeds in seed beds or plant directly in rows in the field. Mix seeds 1:10 with sand or dry soil before planting.

IRRIGATION

Water requirements vary with the crop’s growth stage, soil type, and weather conditions (hot or cold). Frequent irrigation will be required for sandy soils as these drain quickly. Clay soils, on the other hand, drain quite slowly and hold more water than sandy soils.

HARVESTING

Harvest Maturity

Leaves: Cleome is harvested in summer during the first rains and can be harvested until autumn. Leaf harvesting starts four to six weeks after seeding emergence and it may last four to five weeks.

Seeds: Seeds can be harvested when pods are fully ripe and yellow but before they open naturally to prevent shattering.

                                                       

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Why Pumpkin Farming?

                            

Pumpkins are grown yearly in South Africa. Pumpkins are being produced countrywide in South Africa with the main areas being: Mpumalanga, Vryburg, Western Cape, and Vereniging. About 40 000 h/a of pumpkins are grown yearly in South Africa. 

CULTIVARS

Recommended cultivars are:

  1. Carving – Autumn Gold, Gost Rider – takes 90 days to mature.

  2. Small / Pie Type – Amish Pie, small sugar – takes 90 days to mature.

  3. Giant Pumpkin – Big Max, Big Moon – takes 120 days to mature.

Growers supplying wholesale markets want heavy and uniformly sized pumpkins with strong, dark – colored stems and a deep, bright colour. Growers should keep track of the many new varieties of pumpkins available each year, consider the market, and plant varieties that are best suited to their operations.

SOIL REQUIREMENTS

Pumpkins grow well and produced excellent quality fruit in rich, light – textured soils. Sandy loam or well-drained loamy fertile soils, ideally deeper than 1000mm, are ideal for pumpkins. However, heavier soils can also be used as long as the drainage is adequate. The optimum soil pH is between 6 and 7.5.

PLANTING

Planting on a raised bed promotes drainage, so the roots do not have to deal with constant wetness, which leads to disease problems. The seeds can be planted directly in the site where they will mature. Pumpkins are usually planted in hills. Plant two to three seeds per hill about 2,5cm deep and later thin to one plant per hill.

FERTILIZATION

The plants respond to liberal dressings of manure and compost, which also help the soil to retain moisture. Pumpkins appreciate to be treated generously throughout their growth period. Good feeding for pumpkins is liquid manure applied at intervals of 2 – 3 weeks, starting when the first flower buds open.

HARVESTING

Most pumpkins reach maturity at 3 or 4 months after sowing. The fruit is harvested when the skin becomes hard and lose its shiny appearance.

                                          

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Start a Biodiesel Business

                                                                   

“Biodiesel” is very different from the normal diesel many of us know. The diesel we’ve used to is produced by “refining petroleum” (also known as crude oil). Crude oil can only be found deep beneath the earth’s surface, from where it is recovered and and refined into several products including – petrol (gasoline) kerosene, and diesel.

Biodiesel is not in any way related to or made from crude oil. Biodiesel is a renewable and clean burning type of diesel that is made from vegetable oils. It can be made from most types of vegetable oils including soy bean oil, canola oil, palm oil and most other popular oils.

The main reasons why the popularity of biodiesel is growing across the world include:

Reduced Waste

Individuals and businesses are looking  for more ways to reduce waste. This is why reuse and recycling have become a big deal nowadays. Millions of liters cooking oil are daily flushed down the sink or sucked into the drain. These can be recycled into a highly valued product that can power trucks and generators.

 Cleaner and Eco – friendly fuels

Biodiesel is biodegradable and non-toxic ( has a low sulphur content and doesn’t contain carcinogens), making it more sensitive and relatively harmless to the environment. As the pressure to further combat climate change increases around the world, it is expected that the volume of biodiesel that is blended with normal diesel will increase. Sometime in the near future cars and trucks could run on 100 % biodiesel.

Dependence on crude oil products

To avoid any future surprises from the unpredictability of global oil prices, more countries around the world are looking at locally accessible energy sources to up their supplies and to protect them from oil price shocks. Biodiesel is an interesting option for anyone who’s looking to diversify or compliment their energy supply sources. Both virgin and used vegetable oils are abundantly produced in South Africa, and this makes it possible for biodiesel to be produced anywhere in the world.

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CLEMENTINE FARMING

                                                   

Citrus is divided into four groups:

  1. Oranges.

  2. Grapefruit.

  3. Lemons and

  4. Soft Citrus – Clementine / Mandarins.

Clementine is the world’s premier mandarin. They easy to peel and if grown in single blocks away from cross – pollinating varieties, the fruit is seedless. When mature, the peel turns bright orange. Clementines has a distinctive sweet taste and flavour.

Clementine trees flourish in full to partial sunlight. Even though they prefer full sun , they can tolerate shade. Sandy soil is best for Clementine trees, but they will adapt to natural soil. To make soil sandier, mix in sand or a fine potting mix. Just make sure that the soil is well- draining.

PLANTING

Early spring is the best time for transplanting. Planting holes of 0,5 x 0,5 x 0,5m are prepared ad the soil mixed well with 2 spadefuls of compost or kraal manure and 250g of super-phosphate. Once the tree has been planted, the soil must be firmly tramped down. A basin for irrigation is made around the tree which must be thoroughly irrigated immediately after planting. Irrigate again the following day to seal any cracks in the soil.

FERTILIZATION

During the first year, nitrogen may be applied every 2 months. Any of the following nitrogen fertilizers may be applied:

  • 6 Applications of 25g limestone ammonium nitrate (LAN 28%) per tree or

  • 6 Applications of 16g urea (46%) per tree per year or

  • 6 Applications of 36g ammonium sulphate (21%) per tree per year.

From the second year , nitrogen must be applied twice a year , half in July and half in March. Fertilizer should be spread evenly under the canopy of the tree and irrigated. Phosphorus may be applied at any time of the year, one application should be sufficient. Potassium should also be applied once, early in spring.

IRRIGATION

During the first 6 months the trees should be irrigated twice a week and thereafter every 7 days. The irrigation basin should be gradually enlarged as the tree grows, so that it is always slighter bigger than the drip line of the tree.

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How to set up Cherry Farming

        

Cherry trees can only be grown in certain areas of South Africa. They prefer cold winters and don’t like hot summers, wind and frost. In addition, cherry trees are sensitive to root phytophthora and boll-worm. Birds love cherries and can devour up to 10% of the harvest. Growing cherries under netting is a solution to this problem.

Cherries are a crop with short harvest season. The cherry harvest in South Africa starts from week 41 – the second week in October, and ends around week 51 – the end of December, but certain varieties and late harvesting in some areas can extend the season into mid January.

Cherries are used to make cherry liqueurs and wines. Other cherry products such as cherry sauces, jams, canned and glazed cherries are also produced in South Africa. Dried, powered, freeze- dried and powered cherries in capsules are also available. But cherry concentrate (for juice etc) is imported.

Cherry Cultivars

Sweet cherry farming in South Africa started with the planting of cherry cultivars such as Early River, Early Red Five, Giant Heidelfinger and Bing. There are a large number of cherry varieties planted in South Africa, these include Royal Hazel, Royal Dawn, Royal Lynn, Royal Edie and Royal Helen. The most popular one grown by an individual producer is the red flavorful newcomer Royal Hazel. This is a variety with a good shelf life, is suitable for shipping and is already making up 10% of South Africa’s total plantings, of just under 390h/a. Other cherry cultivars also planted on large scale include Royal Edie and Royal Helen.

Harvesting

Cherries are a non – climacteric fruit – this means it is picked fully ripe and does not ripen further after harvesting. Cherry – picking is labor intensive as it needs  to be hand – picked with the stems intact. An orchard will be picked up to 6 times in a season. Harvested cherries need to be cooled to 0,5°C as soon as possible; this is often done using a hydro-cooler.

                 

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Sustainable Shallot Farming

                 

Shallots (Eschalots) are members of the alium family, closely related to onions, garlic and chives. Shallot bulbs grow in clusters, similar to cloves of garlic. The biggest distinction between shallots and other onions, besides their milder flavor, is their cellular structure. Shallots break down much more easily when cooked, allowing for a softer level of caramelization, or a more subtle touch when creating a foundation in sources etc.

Shallots are packed with micro-nutrients such as magnesium, potassium, zinc, and B vitamins. It increase your intake of micro – nutrients, protein and fiber. Shallot differs from the everyday onion in some fundamental ways:

Firstly – Shallots grows like garlic, in clusters rather than single bulbs.

Secondly – Shallots has a softer flavor, bringing all the essence of an onion without the punch.

Thirdly – Shallots is smaller and a little more oval – shaped.

Soil

Fertile, well – drained soil with compost dug in. In clay soil, use raised beds or rows.

Spacing

Single Plants – 15cm each way (minimum).

Rows – 10cm with 15cm row gap (minimum).

Planting

Easiest to sow as sets (tiny bulbs) which are planted direct into the soil from early winter onward. Can also be grown from seed in which case start in pots under cover in late winter before planting out mid spring.

Harvesting

It usually takes 2 months for the shallots to be ready for harvest. One signal that the bulb had reached its maturity is when the top part of the plant withers. Harvested shallots should be stored in cool places and it is advised that you put them inside a mesh or any other breathable storage,

Shallot farming is a profitable business due to the fact that it is not hard to plant and to maintain and is also in demand in the market. Shallots do not require a specific kind of climate to grow and can even grow healthy in a garden directly exposed to sunlight or shaded.

            

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How to start profitable pea farming?

      

Scientific Name – Pisum sativum L

Common Names – Matar (Hindi, Nepali) Pea, split pea, garden pea, seed pea, shelling pea. combining pea, field pea, dry pea, vining pea.

Family Name – Fabaceae

Commercially peas are grown almost in all parts of the cooler areas of South Africa, particularly in KZN, Brits and Rustenburg in North West, and in the Mpumalanga Lowveld. The pea is a green, pod-shaped vegetable, widely grown as a cool – season vegetable crop. There are generally three types of peas that are commonly eaten:

  1. Garden or Green Peas (Pisum sativum).

  2. Snow Peas (Pisum sativum var, macrocarpon).

  3. Snap Peas (Pisum sativum var, macrocarpon ser. cv).

Soil Requirements

Peas can be grown on all types of soil but it prefers well- drained sandy loam soils.The soils should be rich in organic matter as it enhances better growth by supplying nutrients at a slower rate. It does not thrive in highly acidic or alkaline soils or saline type of soils. It grows best at a pH of 6.5. If the pH is less than 6.0, then then it should be amended to improve the soil conditions.

Soil Preparation

The field should be well prepared by 2 or 3 ploughings. The soil should not be much pulverized and fine. However, it must be free from weeds and stuble of the kharif crop grown earlier. Well- decomposed farmyard manure at 25 to 30 t/ha along with 100kg dolomite per hectare should be applied during final ploughing.

Planting

Peas are normally sown directly where they are to grow to maturity, but they can also be sown early in pots, in a greenhouse, to bring on plants for planting out. Otherwise sow early March, second sowing in April, third sowing in May and late sowing using early varieties in June or even into early July.

Spacing

Garden pea is sown rather densely, with plant densities up to 80 plants per square metre. The seed should be sown 4 to 7cm deep. Approximately 60 to 200 kg/ha of seed is required. Plant peas 3 to 5cm deep and 2cm apart in single or double rows. Allow 46 to 60cm between single or pairs of rows. Allow 20 to 25cm between double rows in pairs.

Harvesting

Harvesting period: 58 to 74 days, depending on the variety and growing conditions (soil, temperature, and moisture).

     

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How to start Fennel Farming

                            

Fennel is an evergreen perennial which is usually grown as an annual in South Africa. However, in frost free regions fennel can be treated as a short lived perennial. In the cooler regions of South Africa, fennel seed can be sown from spring to autumn.

Because hot temperatures and humidity tend to induce bolting, in the rest of the country fennel is an excellent intermediate to cool season crop, sown in late summer or early spring before the weather gets too hot.

The fennel plants need to grow fast in order to produce the best quality bulbs and leaves so the beds need to be well prepared with lots of added compost or manure and a dressing of organic 2.3.2. Funnel crops sown in autumn may take up to 20 weeks to mature.

Planting

* Plant fennel seeds 1 to 3cm deep.

* Fennel plants can reach up to 1-5m and need some room to spread.

* Space fennel plants at least 50cm apart, with about 60cm between the rows.

* Protect fennel plants from extreme heat and wind.

* Water well until well established.

Fennel Health Benefits

* Fennel is good for digestion.

* Fennel is useful in the treatment of anemia.

* Fennel is extensively used for treating constipation, diarrhea, renal colic, respiration and menstrual disorders.

* Fennel helps in increasing iron absorption.

* Fennel is good for bone health.

* Fennel helps lowering blood pressure.

* Fennel may reduce getting cancer.

* Fennel boost immune power.

* Fennel helps in weight management.

* Fennel is good for skin health.

Type of Funnel

When it comes to selection a certain type of funnel, you can choose from the herb or bulb variety – both share a sweet aniseed flavor. Common fennel is widely available as a herb, but bronze fennel is well worth adding to your farming operation.

                              

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Parsley Farming

                                                                         

Parsley is a biennial plant with bright green, feather- like leaves and is the same family as dill. This popular herb is used in sauces, salads, and especially soups, as it lessens the need for salt. Not only is parsley the perfect garnish, it’s also good for you: It’s rich in iron and vitamins A and C.

Soil

Parsley enjoys well – draining soil that is rich in organic matter. Pick a spot that gets full sun (6 to 8 hours of sunlight). Try to choose an area that is weed – free; that way you will be able to see the parsley sprouting after about 3 weeks.

Planting

Sow parsley seeds 1/4 inch deep. Sow seeds about 6 to 8 inches apart. For larger plants, sow about 8 to 10 inches apart. Be sure to keep soil moist while seeds germinate. It can take 2 to 4 weeks for seedlings to appear.

Pests / Diseases

* Stem rot.

* Leaf spots.

* Carrot fly and celery fly larvae.

Harvesting

When the leaf stems have three segments, parsley is ready to be harvested. Cut leaves from the outer portions of the plant whenever you need them. Leave the inner portions of the plant to mature. If you want fresh parsley throughout the winter, replant the parsley plant in a pot and keep it in a sunny window.

Storage

One method of storing the parsley fresh is to put the leaf stalks in water and keep them in the refrigerator. Another method of storage is drying the parsley. Cut the parsley at the base and hang it in a well- ventilated shady and warm place. Once it is completely dry, crumble it up and store it in an container.

 

                               

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SUCCESSFUL BEETROOT FARMING

                                                                                  

Beetroot is generally a widely adaptable crop that can be grown under most conditions throughout South Africa. Beetroot can be planted all year round but as a rule of thumb, areas where there could be frost conditions or excessive heat around planting time these should be avoided.

Soil Preparation

As seed is sown directly, fields need to be prepared correctly and thoroughly. The soil need to be well tilled, free of old plant material and have a good crumb structure. Good soil preparation can be achieved by ploughing, harrowing, and leveling prior to sowing. The ideal pH for beetroot production is between 6.0 and 8.0. Beetroot prefer deep, friable, well drained sandy loam’s to silt loam’s.

Crop Rotation

Good crop rotation will keep the soil healthy and fertile. Beetroot can safely be rotated with the following crops:

  • Legumes.

  • Babala.

  • Cereals.

  • Tomatoes.

  • Cabbage.

  • Onions and carrots.

Transplanting

More than 90% of beetroot producers sow the seed directly in the soil, but seed can also be sown in seedbeds, and then transplanted. Seed trays or other containers can also be used to raise seedlings but this is expensive because of the high cost.

Harvesting

Soil should be slightly moist before cutting or pulling beets. If the soil is too dry, roots maybe difficult to clean and the rate of top breakage maybe too high. For the best flavor and tenderness harvesting should begin when roots are 3-4cm in diameter. Handle beets carefully after harvesting to avoid damaging the roots. Any damage reduces shelf life and increases the chances of decay and disease.

                                             

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Start with Brinjals

                                                                                    

“Brinjals”or Eggplant” is a species of nightshade, and therefore related to the potato and tomatoes. Brinjal is a warm – season crop grown for its edible fruit. Good – quality brinjals can be grown in open lands across various parts of the country year – round.

Soil

Brinjals favor a well – drained loam to sandy loam soil. However, it will grow reasonably well in a wide range of different soil types. Certain criteria in terms of the soil structure and content must be met to make the crop commercially viable. These include nutrient composition, compaction, effective soil depth, pH, crop rotation, herbicide residue and the water- holding capacity of the soil.

Varieties

Different varieties produce fruit of different sizes shapes and colors. This varying from white to yellow or green, reddish purple and dark purple. The currently favored cultivars produce a fruit that is egg-shaped, 12cm to 25 cm long and 6cm to 9cm in diameter, and has a dark purple skin.

Harvesting

Pick Brinjals/eggplant when the skin takes on a high gloss. To test, press the skin. If the indentation doesn’t spring back, that fruit is ready for harvest. To harvest clip the eggplant of the plant with pruning shears, keeping the cap and about 1 inch of the stem intact.

Eggplants” will keep up to two weeks of refrigerated. If you cut open an eggplant fruit and find that the seeds inside have turned brown, the fruit is past prime quality and the flavor may be bitter. The best way to avoid this is by picking fruits on the young side. This is when they are a third or two- thirds of their fully mature size.

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PROFITABLE BROCCOLI FARMING

                                   

“Broccoli” has become a far more important crop of late due to its reported health benefits. Broccoli is also much easier to grow than before. The best months for growing broccoli in South Africa is February, March and April.

“Broccoli” is worth growing for its nutritional content alone. The crop is rich in vitamins and minerals. It is a good source of Vitamin A, Potassium, Folid Acid, Iron and Fiber.

Planting Site

* Broccoli requires a site with exposure to full sun – (6-8 hours per day).

* Plant in a bed of moist, fertile soil that drains well.

* Soil pH should be slightly acidic, between 6.0 and 7.0

Planting

* Outdoors – sow seeds 1/2 inch deep and 3 inches apart.

* Indoors – plant transplants that are 4-6 weeks old, outdoors 12 – 20 inches apart. Plant in holes slightly deeper than their container depth.

* Space rows of broccoli should be 3 feet apart.

* Water well at the time of planting.

Harvesting

Broccoli grown from seed will come to harvest in 100 – 150 days. Grown from transplants broccoli will come to harvest in 55 to 80 days. Cut buds when they are still green and tight. Cut the central head with 5 to 6 inches of stem. Leave the base of the plant and some outer leaves to encourage new heads on secondary shoots.

In general, broccoli plants can be harvested two or three times and for a period up to 3 months. Broccoli should be harvested when the heads are small, tight and firm. If flower buds appear, it should be cut immediately.

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CACTUS / PRICKLY PEAR FARMING

Cactus or prickly pear farming is enjoying renewed interest in South Africa. This is because of the drought and climate change as well as the commercial potential of a crop with abundant uses.

Prickly pear is a surprising simple cactus. Its easy and undemanding to grow. It is also hardy enough to survive in most climates, and boasts a cheery, delicate flower. Prickly pears are a cactus, so they need well- draining soil first and foremost. Plant them in full sun in a sandy or gravely mix and go easy on the water.

Soil

In order for the prickly pear to thrive, it needs to be planted in well-draining soil. Your best bet is a mixture that is dry, sandy, or gravelly. It can also do well in a mixture that is primarily clay, as long as it drains very well and soil does not retain much moisture. Prickly pear isn’t especially high – maintenance and can thrive in a neutral- to -acidic mixture with a pH level of 6.0 – 7.5

Water

Prickly pear cactus is extremely drought tolerant so water it less than you think it needs. In most areas, your typical rainfall will be likely be enough for the cactus to thrive. If not, you can plan to water the plant every two to four weeks.

Fertilizer

When planted outdoors in garden soil, no fertilizer is needed. However, occasional feeding may be required indoors. Use well-balanced fertilizer and let the plant tell you when it needs food. This will be when its green color starts to pale or it doesn’t flower, it should be fed.

Plant Usage

Farmers use the cactus pear to make fodder and silage. Consumers eat the fruit, bio gas made from the plan can produce electricity. Furthermore, the fruit can be used to make oil, juice, jam, jelly, and chutney and the cladodes  can be turned into salads. The ruit is also used to make beer, wine, mampoer or liqueurs.

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Golden Kiwi Farming

        

Kiwifruits also known as simply “kiwis” are a popular type of edible berry that grows on wines in temperature regions. If you want to grow a kiwi plant for its fruit, purchace a grafted plant from a nursery.

The three types of kiwi fruit are:

1. Common Kiwi – This is the type of kiwifruit typically found in grocery stores. It is a brown/fuzzy fruit with a thick skin and green pulp.

2. Golden Kiwi – Another popular type of kiwi. The golden kiwi is sweeter but more delicate compared to the common kiwi. It is closely related to common kiwifruit but less fuzzy and more yellow.

3. Kiwi Berry – This name usually refers to two different kiwi species, the hardy kiwi and the super-hardy kiwi. These kiwifruits are much smaller compared to common and golden kiwis and have a thinner smooth skin.

Development in the South Africa’s kiwifruit industry has been picking up pace over recent years. There are now 500 ha planted, including 200 ha of yellow varieties. South African growers produce good quality yellow kiwi. They produce it at a time when they can go into a market in Europe ahead of any other Southern Hemisphere players.

Input Costs – Hail netting for a 10 ha orchard will cost about R250 000/ha. To buy and plant young vines and maintaining through their first 3 years of growth can cost R250 000 – R300 000/ha.

The trees enter production in their fourth year. It will cost approximately R60 000/ha/year to manage a mature gold kiwifruit orchard from then on wards.

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PRECISION FARMING / AGRICULTURE

 

       

Precision Farming seeks to use new technologies to increase crop yields and profitability while lowering the levels of traditional inputs. These inputs are needed to grow crops – land, water, fertilizer, herbicides and insecticides. In other words, farmers utilizing precision agriculture are using less to grow more. Precision agriculture is the latest trend in agricultural sectors around the world, because it saves time and reduces cost.

DO YOU NEED TO SWITCH TO PRECISION FARMING???

Yes. It is already profitable and will be inevitable in the future. American farmers already save between $11 000 and $39 000 a year on average. The sooner farmers begin to implement precision farming, the more competitive they will be in the future.

Precision Farming Benefits:

  • Simplified Farming Processes.
  • More cost – efficient farming.
  • More time on hands.
  • Higher yields and more profitable.
  • Better quality produce.
  • Less waste.
  • Higher quality of life.

       

Many farmers are adopting new equipment to make their farming more precise. Tractors can map fields, drives themselves, and check it’s own motion so it doesn’t waste fertilizer, seed or fuel. Farnming technology includes remote sensing with data collection on variables like nutrient levels and soil moisture.

Precision farming is about managing variations in the field accurately to grow more food using fewer resources and reducing production costs. The main goal of “precision farming” is to improve agricultural yield and reduce potential environmental risks.

Future of Precision Farming

Some of the most recently technologies available and under development are the state – of – the – art robots. They are capable of managing crops more and more accurately with the possibility of collecting important data.

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HOW TO START A SUCCESSFUL FREE RANGE CHICKEN FARM?

                                                                                       

Free Range Chicken Farming is a method of chicken farming where the chickens are allowed to roam freely outdoors. This is done for a good part of the day rather than being confined in an enclosure for 24 hours.

In most free range chicken farms, the outdoor ranging area is fenced and therefore making the area an enclosure. Chicken meat is generally consumed in all parts of the world and is very healthy. There are many free range farms that raise chickens and making huge profits from their farming operation.

When you running your own free range chicken farming operation, it is better to produce your own chicken feed. One of the most economical  ways of feeding is to grow your own meal-worms as feeding for them. Meal – worms is the most ideal meal to feed free range chickens. It is also less stressful and inexpensive when you do it yourself.

Breed Selection

Free range chicken farmers work with various breeds like:

Meat Production – Cobb, Ross, Arbor Acres, Hubbard.

Egg Production – Lohmann, Browns, Lohman Silver, Hy-Line Silver, Hy-Line Brown, Amber – Link and Lohmann Hybrids.

Other poultry hybrids include the following chicken breeds:

  • Potch Koekoek.
  • Borschvelders.
  • Black Australorps.

With the market for “free range eggs” continuing to grow, more new players are getting into the sector.They raise chickens in a semi – intensive , free range or fully organic system. Many of the new entrants are tempted by the relatively low start up costs. Also, the potentially good margins as free range and organic products tend to fetch a higher price.

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How to be Successful in Spinach Farming?

                                                                                        

Spinach is not only full of flavour, but full of goodness too. Spinach is high in iron, Vitamin A, Vitamin c and low in categories. What most of us eat as spinach is usually “Swiss Chard” because it is:

  • Much more available.
  • Easier to grow.
  • Heat tolerant and
  • More productive.

Spinach and Swiss Chard are among the easiest vegetables to grow. They germinate easily, don’t take up much space and are easy to harvest. However, they are gross feeders and need regular feeding to be a great success.

Soil Requirements

Spinach seeds germinate at 2°C to 30°C. However, 7°C to 24°C is optimum. Seeds will not germinate well in warm weather. Although spinach will grow in temperatures ranging from 5° to 24°C, growth is more rapid at 15° to 18°C.

The plant requires a constant and uniform supply of water in order to obtain a good crop of high quality. During spinach production, the soil should never be allowed to dry out. Spinach requires plenty of water, although the soil should have good drainage.

Spinach grows well on a variety of soils, although fertile, sandy loams with a high organic matter content is preferred. Spinach is particularly sensitive to saturated soil conditions and to acidity. The optimum soil pH is 6.2 to 6.9.

Planting

Before planting, prepare and enrich the soil with generous amounts of organics as well as bone meal for root development.

  • Spinach and Swiss Chard can be sown in situ. Swiss Chard can also be sown in seed trays as it transplants better than spinach.
  • Keep the soil moist during germination – which takes about 5 days.
  • Seedlings should be spaced, or thinned out, to about 20cm apart.
  • Feed with a liquid fertilizer about 2 weeks after germination and at least once a month after that..

Plants should be spaced 10 – 20 cm apart in rows that are 30cm apart. This equates to about 160 000+ plants per hectare. Commercial growers that harvest mechanically plant closer together at 15cm by 25cm giving the grower 250 000+ plants per hectare.

Growth Period

Harvesting of the first outer leaves can begin at 60 to 70 days from planting. To ensure longer production periods and higher yields spinach needs Nitrogen in the soil throughout its growing period.

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HOW TO START A SUGARCANE FARMING OPERATION??

                                                                      

Sugarcane farming is known to be a profitable business and over the years, it evolved from uncoordinated to a global industry in most countries where it’s carried out. With the recent advancement in technology, farmers can now comfortably grow crops such as sugarcane in a country where such crops can hardly survive and in places where there are few farming lands.

Soil

Sugarcane grows on almost all classes of soil, but it needs fertile, well – drained soil. Humid soils from 100 to 150cm deep with good drainage are most suitable. It grows well in deep well-drained soils of medium fertility of sandy loam soil textures with a pH range from 6.0 to 7.7. The optimum soil pH is about 6.5 but sugarcane can tolerate a considerable degree of soil acidity and alkalinity.

Planting

There are 2 methods of planting, namely manual and mechanical. The cane setts are manually placed end to end (or overlapping) together with fertilizer in the furrow and then covered with soil. With mechanical planting, the three operations of opening the furrow, planting the setts and applying fertilizer are conducted simultaneously.

Row Spacing

Closer spacing tends to result in higher yields, provided there is adequate moisture in the soil. Row and plant spacing for manual planting is 1.0 to 1.3m x 0.5m. For normal mechanical operations, the best row spacing is between 1.4 and 1.6m. The setts are planted at a degree angle or laid horizontally in a furrow and thereafter are covered lightly with soil until they sprout then the sides of the furrow are turned inwards. Optimum cover is 50mm of soil.

Depth of Planting

Furrows for planting should be approximately 100mm deep. Sets should be cut into five bud lengths.

Utilization

Sugarcane is used for sugar production, a raw material in human food industries, as a fertilizer and as livestock fodder. The primary use for sugarcane is to process sugar, which is then used in producing an infinite number of products. The type of sugar produced by sugarcane is called sucrose. Sucrose is used as a sweetening agent for foods and in the manufacturing of cakes, candles, preservation’s, soft drinks, alcohol and numerous other foods.

IF YOU WANT TO START SUCCESSFULLY IN THIS TYPE OF FARMING OR ANY OTHER FARMING OPERATION YOU WILL NEED A BANKABLE AND WELL – STRUCTURED PROFESSIONAL BUSINESS PLAN. 

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HOW TO START A VINEYARD FARMING OPERATION

                       

A vineyard is a plantation of grape- bearing vines, grown mainly for wine making, but also for raisins, table grapes and non – alcoholic grape juice. The science, practice and study of vineyard production is known as viticulture. A winery is a licensed property that makes wine.

So, a vineyard can have a winery that produces wine from the grapes it grows, but it can also sell its grapes to outside wineries and purely act as a grape-grower. Vineyards are often located on hillsides and planted in soils that are of only marginal value to other plants.

The wine making process includes growing and harvesting grapes, crushing and pressing grapes into unfermented wine and fermenting the wine. The industry also makes wine blends, brandies and wines from other fruit sources.

Viticulture

The wine industry is undergoing an exciting period of change, both in the vineyard and in the winery. Wine makers are experimenting with new varieties of wine, as well as new clones of existing varieties such as chardonnay and Cabernet sauvignon. Large – scale experimentation with root-stocks is taking place to establish which planting material is particularly suited to conditions In most South African vineyards harvesting is carried out by hand, although machines are used on some farms. The grapes are picked into baskets and transported in bins to the winery where vinification begins.

Soil

Wine producers are focused on identifyng and selecting sites best suited to particular  grape varieties. In addition, new clones and root – stocks which particularly well adapted to the local soil and climatic conditions are being selected.

Wines thrive in poor soils and are capable of putting down roots to a depth of several meters in search of nutrients and water. Good quality grapes, however, are not produced on badly drained or very shallow sites.

After growing the grapes, you can sell or export them to wineries who are involved in producing the wine. You can also decide to start and own a winery where you can produce the wine and distribute them to consumers. Another option is to do both by having an estate winery where you grow the grapes and produce the wine.

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SUCCESSFUL STRAWBERRY FARMING

                    

Starting a strawberry farming business, is good news because you can’t get it wrong due to various species of strawberries that are consumed fresh by almost everybody and all over the globe.

Strawberries and strawberry flavorings are a popular addition to dairy products such as strawberry milk, strawberry ice cream, strawberry milkshakes, and yogurts to mention a few. Although farmers have been quite reluctant in participating in strawberry farming stating that the industry is not very developed, those looking into venturing into the practice are highly encouraged because of the huge income potential.

Planting

Strawberries can be grown from seeds, or using transplants (runners) from already existing strawberry plants. It is however more difficult to start with seeds and therefore runners are mostly used.

Cultural Practices

Mulching – after planting the strawberry plants, mulching the beds with pine needles, shredded leaves or straw helps to keep the soil temperature down, mitigate the weed problem, and also keeps the fruit cleaner by keeping the strawberries off of the dirt.

Irrigation – water is critically and essential when growing strawberries. The plants need a lot of water especially when the runners and flowers are developing. Drip irrigation is highly recommended as it waters at the root.

Pruning – this is majorly aimed at increasing fruit production. Flowers should be pruned off immediately they appear.

Fertilization – application fertilizers an manure boost production. However, if too much fertilizer is applied, this promotes excessive leaf growth and poor production of flower stalks. Too much nitrogen results in soft and easily – damaged strawberries.

It is important to state that strawberry farming comes its own fair share of challenges, but that does not rule out the fact that it is indeed a profitable business venture. An aspiring entrepreneur can either choose to start on a small or on a large scale depending on their financial status.

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HOW TO START A CABBAGE FARM OPERATION

                    

Cabbage is a kind of vegetable that is prepared and consumed in different forms. Cabbage can be eaten as a raw vegetable or steamed. Cabbage is a leafy green, (purple), or white (pale green) biennial vegetable plant grown as an annual vegetable crop for its dense- leaved heads. Many shapes, colors and leaf textures are found in various cultivated varieties of cabbage.

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HOW TO START A OSTRICH FARMING BUSINESS?

                        

There are a huge growth potential for the ostrich market, even though the industry is yet to gain a 1% share of the total meat market. Having at least a 1% share in the total meat market would mean that that more ostriches (numbering about 4 million) would need to be farmed and slaughtered to be able to meet the growing demand.

Ostrich is characterized by 3 product phases, i.e. meat, leather and feathers with the current main source of income meat and leather. The value of a slaughtered ostrich is broken down into 45% skin, 45% meat and 10% feather. This contrasts with Europe, where the breakdown is 75% meat and 25% skin. This is because of the popular healthy aspects that ostrich meat contains the lowest fat and cholesterol and is rich in protein and iron.

VALUE CHAIN

Ostrich products (leather, meat, feathers and curios) are marketed locally and exported through a free market system.The main market for ostrich meat is restaurants, wholesalers, supermarkets and food-service suppliers. The market for ostrich leather includes the clothing, fashion and upholstery industries and for the feathers the household, fashion and carnival markets.

Ostrich farming is much more profitable than raising other traditional farm animals. Ostriches are loving birds, they are quite easy to raise and require little maintenance from farmers. One of the reasons why ostrich farming is such a lucrative business is the number of valuables an ostrich has to offer; and very little ever goes to waste.

Ostrich Products

Meat – The meat is red with  lower fat and is also a good source of iron and protein.

Eggs –  The eggs are about 6 inches long, 5 inches wide and weighs 2 kg. Ostriches can lay about 15 – 45 eggs per season. 1 ostrich egg is equivalent to 5 chicken eggs.

Feathers – The feathers are extremely valuable and durable. The feathers are used to make dusters for cleaning, hat and home decorations.

Skin (leather) – Ostrich leather is of high quality being thick, soft and durable. It is used to make handbags, carpets, clothing, books etc.

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WHY A CHICKEN EGG HATCHERY?

                                              

There are loads of business opportunities in the poultry industry and a chicken egg hatchery business is one of them. A chicken egg hatchery business comes with its own fair share of challenges, but that does not rule out the fact that it is indeed a profitable business. An aspiring entrepreneur can either choose to start the business on a small scale covering a small community or on a large scale depending on their financial status.

Breed

There are more than 200 varieties of chickens available today. There are many things to consider when determining the best breed for your flock. These factors include climate, breed temperaments, egg production levels and whether you want a “dual-purpose” bird that is good for eggs and meat or purely an egg producer. There are some breeds that work out better for a smaller farm or homestead. Combining multiple breeds in one flock is fine. They will get along, and whether you have one breed or seven, they will establish their pecking order.

“Laying hen” is a common term for a female growing chicken that is kept primarily for laying eggs. Some chickens are raised for meat, while others are raise to produce eggs, and some are dual – purpose. People may use older laying hens for food, or rise roosters alongside hens but dispatch the roosters as young, plumb birds for the table. Raising laying hens is a different process than raising chickens for meat. Most laying ens will live five to seven years, laying eggs nearly daily for out three of those years.

The Poultry Raising Industry has experienced positive trends in the demand for artificially hatched chicks and eggs. Increasing health consciousness among South African meat consumers has boosted consumption of white meat such as chicken, which is also more affordable than beef or pork.

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WHY AGAVE FARMING?

                   

Blue Agave is also known as “Weber Azul” a part of the Agave Tequila species. The blue agave’s boost of numerous economic importance and is mostly cultivated in South America and South Africa. The blue agave extract is the primary raw material used for the production of the tequila drink native to the region consumer globally and other distilled beverages.

In terms of the end user, the the blue agave market is segmented into food and beverages, pharmaceutical, nutraceutical, and others. The food and beverage segment is further segmented into confectionery, dressings, bakery, dairy and beverage.

Agave are remarkably hardy plants. They grow in dry climates, mediocre soils, and have enough natural defenses that any large predator is usually deterred. Blue Agave should be planted in well-draining soil that receives at least 6 hours of direct sun daily. While this plant is not fussy about soil conditions, it cannot tolerate wet feet. Pick a spot in the landscape to keep the plant out of cool air that accumulates in low areas. Locate your blue agave with an eye on the future. This relatively short – lived plant will reach an imposing size within a short time.

Another potential market for the South African agave is agave syrup or nectar. This is fast becoming a hot item in both the health food industry and as a possible replacement for sugar in commercial food production.

A small farm for your agave will only need five to ten acres at a minimum, but if you want to make a decent profit, you’ll want to consider 50 to 100 acres for planting purposes. Your expenses will be focused on paying for fertilizer, pest control, and harvesting.. You will also need to replace some of your trees on a regular basis to maintain the health and vitality of the entire farm. In the right climate, agave can generate an impressive income especially when used as a valuable by product.

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SUCCESSFUL KIWIFRUIT FARMING

                   

Kiwifruits, also known as simply “kiwis” are a popular type of edible berry that grows on vines in temperate regions. Large areas of South Africa’s interiors are suitable for gold kiwifruit production, as the vines can tolerate temperatures as low as -15°C in midwinter. South African growers produce good quality yellow kiwi, and they produce it at a time when they can go into a market in Europe ahead of any other Southern Hemisphere player. During the 2018 season the return for New Zealand kiwi fruit growers was approximately R1,3million / ha.

KIWIFRUIT TYPES

Common Kiwi

This is the type of kiwifruit typically found in groceries stores. It is a brown, fuzzy fruit with a thick skin and green pulp. For optimal growth, it requires about a month of cool weather with temperatures ranging from 30 to 45 degrees Fahrenheit (-1 – 7°).

Golden Kiwi

Another popular type of kiwi, the golden kiwi is sweeter but more delicate compared to the common kiwi. It is closely related to common kiwifruit but is less fuzzy and more yellow.

Kiwi Berry

This name usually refers to two different kiwi species, the hardy kiwi and the super – hardy kiwi. These kiwifruits are much smaller compared to common and golden kiwis and have a thinner, smooth skin. As their names suggest, this type of kiwi is the most cold – tolerant and can be grown in areas that experience harsh winters.

Growing Requirements

Kiwi fruit vines need deep, friable, fertile, free-draining soil to thrive. They can be planted in full sun or semi shade and need to be kept moist (but not waterlogged), as this could lead to root rot. Mixing organic compost into the soil will improve growth. Vines should be protected from strong winds.

Harvesting

The fruit ripens in November , and harvesting can start when the fruit begin to soften. It can be picked off the vine by hand, or clipped off, close to the base of each fruit. Firm fruit can be kept at room temperature for up to eight weeks. Ripe fruit will last for a week or more if kept in the refrigerator.

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HOW TO BECOME A SUCCESSFUL CITRUS FARMER

                                    

Citrus production (oranges, lemons, limes, grapefruit) continues to grow, averaging more than 100 tons every year. More cultivated land in environmentally climates and society’s passion/demand for these fruits, drinks and medicinal uses make this a viable enterprise for anyone wishing to start and grow a new farming business.

THINGS TO CONSIDER:

  • First of all you must have a Business Planbefore starting the farming operation. Basically, a business plan provides a comprehensive guide about the input costs, projected return and profitability.
  • Citrus crops demand irrigation. So, you will need proper irrigation facilities.
  • Alike any other fruit farming business, you will not get any return before harvesting the fruits. That is why you must have the financial preparation to carry on till the cultivation.

SOIL

Citrus grows over a wide range of soils. However, the light, well-drained (sandy) soils are most ideal. For good production citrus products require well-distributed rainfall or supplementary irrigation throughout the year. Therefore, a good source of water is essential in citrus farming. Generally, water requirements vary according to weather conditions, but as a whole, the ideal range is between 450mm – 2700mm per year

Citrus trees can vary in height from 5m to 15m. They are evergreen with spiny shoots and green leaves. Depending on the variety, the flowers may occur singly or in branched clusters. Flowers are usually between 2cm and 4cm in diameter with five petals. Citrus fruit has a tough and leathery rind with a juicy interior. Citrus fruit can be eaten fresh, pressed for juice, or preserved in marmalade’s and pickles.

For marketing and production purposes in South Africa, citrus is divided into four main groups:

  1. Oranges.
  2. Grapefruit.
  3. Lemons and
  4. Soft citrus (e.g. mandarins).

All citrus contains Vitamin C, a water – soluble vitamin with immune- enhancing effects. The Eastern Cape produces the most citrus in South Africa, followed by Limpopo, Mpumalanga, the Western Cape and KZN. The harvesting season is usually from May to October.

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ANIMAL FEED PRODUCTION – HOW TO START

                     

Animal feed is a kind of feed prepared for oxen, cows, sheep, goat, poultry etc reared for their milk, meat and eggs. It contains protein, minerals and other nutrients which are useful fr milk, eggs, and beef production as well as survival and growth of the animals. Animal feed can be prepared from agro-residues, cereals, molasses, minerals and vitamins etc.

With the increased demand for livestock products for domestic consumption as well as export, farmers realize the importance of maintaining the health of their animals with proper feeding and management. The proportion of crossbred animals increased over the years. This has necessitated higher demand for balanced feed. Feed supply could not keep pace with the growth in various species of cattle and other animals.

Steps to start a Feed Production Business

1. Market Research – You need to do thorough research on your local market. At, first, you should identify the demand of the livestock and other farmers in your area and then select a particular category of animal feed with which you will continue further. Also, look at your competitors who are formulating the same type of animal feed. Study their strengths and weaknesses.

2. Business Plan – Next you should craft an effective and comprehensive business plan to get success in your venture. You need to consider every aspect of your business like objectives, start-up expenses, financial and marketing plans etc.

3. Feed Formulation – There is a specific formula of animal feed for each type of animal and you have to identify the right one for the feeds you are going to produce. If it is not properly produced by mixing the raw materials in exact ratio, you will lose your customers as they would not get the expected results after using the feed.

4. Raw Materials – After generating the appropriate formula or feed, you should buy the essential raw materials that you will need to use.These ingredients may comprise of maize, wheat offal, corn, noodle wastes, minerals, common salt etc.

5. Equipment – The next step is to purchase the equipment that are necessary for the production process.The equipment might include blenders, choppers, cooker, conveyors, weighing machine, bag sewers, pulleys, packaging bags etc.

6. Advertising – The final step is to do proper advertising and promoting of your production business by following effective marketing tactics. This step is quite challenging to perform if you are a beginner. You can hire a sales representative who can help you in promoting your business. You can also make use of the internet by means of a professional website to promote your business.

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HOW PROFITABLE IS COFFEE FARMING IN AFRICA?

                        

Coffee farms and plantations cover approximately 9,600 square miles of the continent and roughly 25 countries in Africa benefit economically from coffee production. For nearly 10 million African households, coffee is the primary source of income.

Coffee beans grow on an attractive little plant with glossy green leaves and a compact growth habit. In their native habitat, they like to grow into medium sized trees, but the coffee plants are regularly pruned to a more manageable size by coffee plantation growers.

COFFEE PLANT VARIETIES

There are more than 120 species of plants in the genus. Arabica accounting for about 60-80 percent of all the consumed coffee in the world. Another popular coffee bean comes from the Canephora plant, which is also known as Coffee Robusta. These species comes from sub- Saharan Africa. It’s plants are more robust, however, the coffee beans are less favored because they tend to have a stronger, harsher taste. Arabica coffee beans tend to be sweeter with undertones of sugar, berries and fruit.

SOIL

A rich, peat-based potting soil with excellent drainage is beneficial. Coffee plants do not like limey soils, so if the plant is not thriving, add some organic matter like peat. Coffee plants can grow in soil that has a pH of 4 to 7. The ideal soil pH is closer to 6 – 6.5.

HARVESTING

Ripe coffee cherries are usually picked by hand. The main exception is Brazil, where the relatively flat landscape and immense size of the coffee fields allow for machinery use. Coffee trees yield an average of 2 to 4 kilos of cherries and a good picker can harvest 45-90 kilos of coffee cherries per day, and this will produce 9-18 kilos of coffee beans.

                   

COFFEE IS HARVESTED IN ONE OF 2 WAYS:

1. Strip Picked –  All the cherries are stripped off the branch at one time, either by machine or by hand.

2. Selectively Picked – Only the ripe cherries are harvested and they are picked by hand.

Coffee in Society

After water, coffee is the most popular drink worldwide with over 400 billion cups being consumed each year. It is enjoyed as part of a healthy, balanced diet and the pleasurable experience. Coffee drinking plays a key role in many cultures around the world, providing an occasion for friends, family and colleagues to connect.

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HOW TO GROW CHILLIES- PEPPER VEGETABLES

                                                                

Chillie – Pepper farming is part of a fast – growing industry and pretty much active in all countries of the world. With the recent advancement in technology, farmers can now comfortably grow chillie – peppers and a variety of vegetables in a country where such crops can hardly survive.

Chillie – Peppers is one of the most consumed vegetables in the world simply because it has so many valuable medicinal properties due to the nutrients, vitamins, minerals, and organic compounds contained in them. Chillie- Pepper reduces LDL cholesterol levels in obese people and fresh chillie peppers, red and green, are a rich source of Vitamin C.

There are many chillie cultivars but to name a few: Anaheim, Inchanga, Long Red Cayenne, Trinidad, Long Slim Cayenne, Pendent, Scotch Bonnet, Serrano Spitfire, Habanero, Super Cayenne, Ristra, Super Chillie, Skyline. However, the four most popular types of chillie peppers include: Ghost Peppers, Habanero, Jalapeno, and Poblano peppers.

                                                                                 

Soil Requirements

They prefer a sandy soil that is well drained. The roots are concentrated in only the top 30 to 40cm of soil so irrigation needs to be very well managed to prevent moisture stress in the soil, to which the plant is very sensitive. The organic content must be high in the soil, otherwise organic material and compost must be mixed into the soil prior to planting. The ideal pH of the soil must be between 6.0 and 7.0.

Climate

Chillie is a warm climate crop that is sensitive to cold, frost and growth is severely hampered by temperatures below 15ºC but also by temperatures over 35ºC. They do best when the daytime temperatures fluctuates between 24ºC and 30ºC. Once the fruit is starting to ripen it prefers dry weather without rain, as rain creates disease and irrigation management problems. It also hampers the drying out of the chillie on the plant for those varieties that are stored dry for later sale or dry processing.

Irrigation

Chillies require about 600mm of water during the growing season in the form of rain or irrigation. During flowering and fruit, set water should be sufficient and water-logging should be avoided as the crop is sensitive.Too much water may inhibit flowering and fruit formation and too little lead to flower drop. Furrow and drip irrigation are mostly recommended. If overhead irrigation has to be used, it should not be scheduled for late in the evening because wet leaves and fruit promote diseases. Plants should be dry before nightfall.

Fertilization

In order to realize acceptable yields in peppers, fertilizers must be used and before applying fertilizers, soil tests should be conducted to determine the type and the quality of fertilizer in the soil to ensure optimum plant growth. It should be fertilized with a combination of organic and/or chemical fertilizers. 

Uses

Chillies are used as ingredients to add flavor and color to most dishes. They are high in Vitamin A and C, calcium and iron and can be used as a medication to treat asthma, coughs and sore throats.

                                                                         

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HOW TO START A MANGO FARM OPERATION

                                                                            

Mangoes are grown over a wide area in South Africa. However, the main production areas are in the Northern Province with Tzaneen, Hoedspruit, Phalaborwa, Letsitele and Trichardsdal area accounting for 60% of the total production. Mango trees will grow and produce well in areas with very high temperatures (45 degrees C). However, when the maximum temperature exceeds 46 degrees C vegetative growth ceases, especially if it is accompanied by low humidity. In South Africa the average relative humidity should preferably be 55% or less, from October until the fruit is harvested.

SOIL REQUIREMENTS

Mango trees grow on a slight slope which enables runoff of excess water and prevents water-logging. Depressions or basins are poorly drained and plantings on these sites should be avoided. The roots will turn black and become desiccated in over-saturated soils as a result of a lack of aeration. Under such conditions the parts of the plant above the ground will wilt and show symptoms of chlorosis. Mango trees do not row and produce well in soils with impermeable layers and also do not thrive on very steep slopes because excessive drainage could lead to water shortages and soil erosion.

PLANTING PROCEDURE

Although mango orchards are planted throughout the year (especially in the warmer production regions) the best time is August to September after the risk of cold weather had passed. After proper soil preparation the holes for planting should be large enough for the bag containing the tree to fit inside. Cut the bags open before planting to ensure that the trees have well developed root systems and that the roots are undamaged. Irrigation systems should already be installed before planting the trees. As soon as active growth is observed after planting, each tree should receive 4 applications of 25g LAN at intervals of 6 weeks, i.e. a total of 100g for the first year.

HARVESTING

Local Market – If mango fruit is to be marketed locally, it can be allowed to mature for longer periods on the tree. This will give it a better color and flavor. However, if the fruit is left on the tree for too long, it will drop in a process known as spontaneous ripening.

Export – Only the best quality mangoes is suitable for export, as it has to undergo transport and cold storage for 28 days in order to reach foreign markets buy sea. Fruit packed too green will never ripen properly whereas overripe fruit will spoil as a result of softening and the development of various diseases. It is therefore important to start picking at the correct stage.

TREE SELECTION

When you’re buying mango trees, you’ll need to look for signs that the tree is in good health. Take a look at the signs of a quality tree:

– Green and gleaming foliage;

– Long inter-nodes;

– Healthy graft union and blossoms;

– Containers should be a minimum of 10L as a precaution against stunted root growth.

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SUCCESSFUL PINEAPPLE FARMING

                                                                                   

Pineapples are sweet, nutritional and can be used in a variety of ways in home cooking. Moreover, pineapples are regularly purchased in bulk by food manufacturers who turn the fruit into various beverages, sweets, baked goods and other food products.

Pineapples rank second on the list of the most consumed fruits in the world and constitute up to 20% of the world’s production of all tropical fruits. Since the 1960’s, the level of pineapple farming has increased dramatically. The fruit popularity in the world can be explained by the breeding of new species, in particular one that is referred to as “Gold“. The fruit is now prepared, canned and consumed in various forms such as pineapple chunks, slices, juices, jams, marmalade, crushed and dried pineapples. Pineapples are also used in cereals and as a snack food. Pineapple fruits are also a good source of dietary fiber, vitamin A, vitamin B, vitamin B6, Copper and Manganese.

SOIL

The soil for pineapple farming should b well drained and slightly acidic in nature with pH levels around 4.5 to 6. The soil has to be light and can be sandy, alluvial or lateritic but not heavy clayey soil. The fruit is suitable for cultivation either near the seacoast or inland areas but the minimum temperature ranges should be in between 15.5 to 32 degrees C. The plants flower from February till April and bears fruit from July till September.

                                                                     

HARVESTING

Pineapple plants get ready for harvest in 2 to 2.5 years. Flowers appear after 12 months from planting and fruits appear after 15 or 18 months. The ripening of fruits occur after 5 months from flowering. The fruits for table use are harvested when completely ripe whereas the fruits for canning are harvested at an early stage. Each variety has a different eye color in the fruit indicating its maturity or ripening level.

PINEAPPLE VARIETIES

Kew – It is a leading commercial variety valued particularly for canning. Its fruits are big sized (1.5 – 2.5 kg) oblong and tapering slightly to the crown. The fruit with broad and shallow eyes becomes yellow when fully ripe.

Gian Kew – The variety is synonymous with Kew except for the size of plant and fruit which are larger than Kew as the name signifies.

Charlotte Rothschild – The fruit is similar in taste and other characters to that of Kew.

Queen – Its fruit are rich yellow in color, weighing 0.9 – 1.3 kg each. The flesh is deep golden – yellow, less juicy than Kew, crisp textured with a pleasant aroma and flavor.

Mauritius – It comes medium in size, its fruits are deep yellow and red. Yellow fruits are oblong, fibrous and medium sweet compared with red ones.This is ideal for table purposes.

Jaldhup & Lakhat – Both are under the Queen group with fruits smaller than Queen. Lakhat is markedly sour in taste, whereas Jaldhup has its sweetness well- blended with acidity.

Generally, commercial pineapple farming demands sufficient area of land and proper irrigation facility. In addition to that, the farm must have proper arrangements for plant protection. In this business, you can expect a substantial ROI and quick payback but you will need a well-structured farming business plan to get you going.

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GROWING CROPS UNDER SOLAR PANELS

                                                                                        

As countries make the switch to renewable energy, solar power is a major player. All you need is sunlight and land to use for solar panels. It’s that easy. Over the course of a year, a study in “Nature Sustainability” analyzed what is known as “Agrivoltaics”. This is a land-sharing process tat integrates agriculture and solar energy int a symbiotic system; meaning that vegetables are planted in the shade of solar panels.

The agrivoltaics system assisted crops by regulating air temperatures, reducing direct sunlight, and increasing moisture in the air. Panels also protected the crops from intense winds and sunlight. Not only did the panels help the plants, but the plants also increased the efficiency of the solar panels by cooling them via transpiration. In mixed crop solar farms, the skin temperature is 18 degrees cooler than in open fields. This can create a much safer work environment as some farm laborers are at risk of heat stroke and other heat – related dangers.

A team of French scientists lead by Christopne Dupraz were the first to use the term “Agrivoltaic”. It basically means when solar panels and food crops are combined on the same land to maximize the land use. It’s an idea to maximize the land use. It’s an idea which could bring food producing to the next level. Researchers from the University of Arizona have claimed growing crops in the shade of solar panels can lead to two or three times more vegetable and fruit production than conventional agriculture.

The scientists said that their measurements showed how shading from the panels had a positive impact on air temperature, direct sunlight and atmospheric demand for water. The shade provided by the PV panels resulted in cooler daytime and warmer nighttime temperatures than the traditional, open-sky planting system they said. There was also a lower vapor pressure deficit in the agrivoltaics system, meaning there was more moisture in the air.

                                                             

Solar farming is a field filled with hundreds or maybe thousands of solar panels oriented into the sun. Instead of potatoes, beans or tomatoes planted in the soil, solar panels cover that land, while energy is being produced. It is obvious that traditional farming is a relatively risky business because one is very much dependent on weather conditions. If there is just the right amount of sun, rain and if there no extreme storms, strong winds etc. Thus, not to worry about all these environmental factors and still get income is really uplifting and a bit too good to be true. Therefore, next to power generation, solar farms found another niche “agrivoltaics” – or in other words APV-. It is an amazing idea for a environmentally conscious world, both agribusiness and society.

METHODS

There are three types of agrivoltaics that are being actively researched:

1. solar arrays with space between for crops;

2. stilled solar array above crops; and

3. greenhouse solar array.

All three of these systems have several variables used to maximize solar energy absorbed in both the panels and the crops. The main variable taken into account for agrivoltaic systems is the angle of the solar panels – called the tilt angle. Other variables taken into account for choosing the location of the agrivoltaic system are the crops chosen, height of the panels, solar irradiation in the area and the climate of the area.

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CHICORY FARMING – IS THIS PROFITABLE??

                                                                                                    

Chicory is a woody, perennial herbaceous plant and it is a member of the daisy family of plants called “Asteracease”. Chicory produces tubes or roots in the first year and develop a flower only in the second year.

Chicory root has a lot of health benefits on the human body, because of its ingredients. Chicory is an excellent source of potassium, Vitamin C and Vitamin A. In South Africa, Chicory is grown almost solely for the root. This is cut into cubes which are dried, roasted and milled and used for blending with coffee. Chicory is also consumed fresh, usually in salads or as a cooked potherb. The leftover parts of the root which are too small to be cubed are sold as stock feed.

Growing Chicory

Chicory prefers fertile, well-drained soil rich in organic malter. Loams, silt loams and clay loam soil often produce higher yields than lighter textured sandy soil as the latter has lower water retention ability and the crop suffers moisture stress sooner. Chicory is a cool – season plant. It grows fastest when conditions are warm and the monthly temperature does not exceed 25 grade Celsius. The plant can survive moderate but not severe frost.

Cultivars

There are 3 main types of Chicory gown for their leaves:

1. A bitter – tasting loose – leaved form is grown as a green winter vegetable, especially in southern Italy.

2. A narrow – leaved, witloof or Belgian form has a compact, elongated head (chicon) which is blanched for use in salads or cooked dishes.

3. A broad – leaved (usually red) form produces cabbage – like hearts. These are generally less bitter than the other forms and are eaten raw or cooked. These forms are often used as a winter salad crop.

                                                                                                    

Water Requirements

Chicory requires 75 to 90 mm of water per month for 160 000 to 180 000 plants per hectare, and then increasing 120 to 140 mm per month during the last 2 months before harvesting.

Planting

The best time to plant Chicory is in the spring season. Seed should be sown in a fine-textured seed bed, at a depth of not more than 6 cm in rows spaced 45 – 60 cm apart. When the plants reach the four-leaf stage they are thinned to stand 20 to 25cm apart in the row. The plant density is about 150 000 plants  per hectare. Ideal planting time for sandy coastal regions (dry land) is from Feb. to May. Up country dry land plantings can be planted from March to middle September.

Irrigation

Chicory irrigation periods should not be longer than 4 hours at a time; 3 to 4 hours are ideal. Some more irrigation is needed for Chicory in drier areas.

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SUCCESSFUL BARLEY FARMING

                                                                                              

Barley is mainly produced in the Western Cape under dry land conditions. Two-thirds of our barley is produced in the areas around Caledon, Bredasdorp, Napier, Swellendam, Heidelberg and recently, patches of the Swartland region too. The remainer of the barley production is in the Northern Cape under irrigation – Vaalharts, Douglas, Barkley West and Modderrivier. Barley is also grown by some small-scale farmers at Taung in the North West Province.

The barley marketing season in South Africa commences on 1 October and ends on 30 September the following year. After wheat, barley is the most important small grain in South Africa. Its main uses includes:

* production of malt – used for the brewing of beer;

* animal feed; and

* pearl barley.

Planting

The planting equipment used for wheat is also suitable for barley. Do not plat barley seed too deep, as this can affect seedling emergence. Planting density can range from 65kg/ha to 100kg/ha depending on the state of the seedbed, planting date, irrigation method and planter used. The average recommended planting density is 80kg/ha, given a 100% germination capacity as well as a 1000 kemel weight of approximately 40kg. Aim to establish 130 to 140 plants/m2 at harvesting. Between 65kg/ha and 80kg/ha seed ought to be sufficient under centre pivot conditions with optimal seedbed preparation.

In -expensive and easy to grow, barley provides exceptional erosion control and weed suppression in semi – arid regions and light soils. It also can fill short rotation niches or serve as a topsoil protecting crop during droughty conditions in any region. It is more  salt tolerant than other small grains and can sop up excess subsoil moisture to help prevent saline seep formation. Barley prefers cool dry growing areas. As a spring cover crop, it can be grown farther north than any other cereal grain, largely because of its short growing period. It can also produce more biomass in a shorter time than any other cereal crop.

BENEFITS

Weed Suppressor

Quick to establish, barley out-competes weeds largely by absorbing soil moisture during its early growing stages. It also shades out weeds and releases allelopathic chemicals that help suppress them.

Pest Suppression

Barley can reduce incidence of leaf-hoppers, aphids, army-worms, root – knot nematodes and other pests, a number of studies suggest.

Nurse Crop

Barley has an upright posture and relatively open canopy that makes it a fine nurse crop for establishing a forage or legume stand. Less competitive than other small grains, barley also uses less water than other covers crops.

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Canola Farming – Sustainable or not?

                                                                                                                   

Canola is an oil-seed crop grown mainly in the winter rainfall regions of the Western Cape, although it is also farmed in the North West, Limpopo and Northern Cape provinces. Canola is widely grown for its high quality oil for human consumption.

Although it is among the least discussed, canola seed is a crop experiencing significant growth in South Africa. This particular crop has seen tremendous progression over the past 18 years – from just 17 000 ha in 1998 to 68 075 ha in 2016 and still growing. In line with area plantings canola seed production increased from 21000 tons in 1998 to 108 860 tons in 2016.

Canola is an organic health crop which falls below olive oil, but it is more affordable. It has various health benefits which help alleviate heart disease, diabetes and stroke. Not only is it edible, it is also used by the pharmaceutical industry in their products because it contains omega oil. Oil-seed is harvested and crushed for oil. The by – product will be used for animal feed because it is protein rich.

                                                                           

Canola should ideally be planted after the first autumn rains (15 April – 15 May) once there is sufficient moisture to ensure good germination. One of the most important factors in ensuring an optimum canola yield is to achieve a uniform sized and evenly spaced seedling stand. An evenly space stand will contribute to weed control as the canola plants rapidly shade out later germinating weeds, often a major problem in many other crops. Uniform sized plants assist in making management decisions regarding time to spray, top-dress, swath etc much easier.

Canola should be planted between 15mm and 25mm deep. Ideally a stand of 40 to 50 plants/m2 should be target.. This can be achieved by planting hybrid seed at 2kg/ha to 3kg/ha. Canola is small seeded, thus it is important that the seeds make good contact with the soil to promote germination.

It is vitally important to monitor the canola regularly (every 2 – 3 days) from planting up to the five-leaf stage. Many pests and diseases can cause severe damage in a short space of time to young canola seedlings.Make sure to correctly identify the pest causing the problem and use the chemical registered to control it.

Overall, South Africa’s canola seeds and products market is growing and increasingly becoming interlinked with the global market. It is therefore, important that domestic producers are aware of these emerging global production trends, and plan according.

Interested n starting your own successful canola farming operation?

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FREE – RANGE DUCK FARMING

                                                                  

Duck meat is a high-value niche product in South Africa. Duck farming is part of poultry farming systems. However, there is a huge difference between duck farming and poultry especially in habits and habitats of duck farming in shelter and population.

Ducks can be raised for meat and eggs. In mos parts of the world, duck ranks next to chicken in terms of egg ad meat production. Starting a duck farming business has numerous advantages as mentioned below:

– Ducks need not only less expensive but simple and non-elaborate housing facilities.

– Ducks need less care or management as they are a very hardy bird.

– You’ll get fresh eggs from ducks as they lay eggs either at night or in the morning.

– As ducks grow faster, you need comparatively less space for raising ducks.

– Ducks are highly resistant to the common avian diseases.

– Ducks eat a wide variety of foods than other birds.

– Along with a less mortality rate, ducks have a longer life than chickens.

Duck Breeds

Duck Breeds for Egg Production:

* Indian runner;

* White and Grayish Indian runner;

* Khaki Campbell.

Duck Breeds for Meat Production:

# Maskovi;

# Aylesbury;

# Sweden ducks.

Feeding

Feeding is the main task for getting better fertile eggs in commercial egg production of a duck farming business. According to duck breeders , on your farm, you can provide nutritious feed. And usually, ducks eats large amounts of food and water than other poultry birds. As legume grain feed works very well, the quantity of feed supply depends on breed, bird age, and purpose (egg layers) or meat producers.

                                                                                                                        

Housing / Shelter

Whether its an intensive or extensive raising system, ducks need safe and secured housing. Although you can use the locally available material to build the shelter, you should ensure proper cross – ventilation of the house along with fresh air flow. Not only require a duck 2 to 3 square feet of floor area, but the house can also be built in high, low dry and wet areas.

As ducks like wet and watery areas, provide both entry and exit points of the house. If you want to keep your duck house secure then you should fence it as well. Also, your building should be floor cemented and keep it deep littering, which should be not less than 5/6 inches.

Breeding

As ducks don’t mate without water, it’s a must for breeding purposes. For 10 female ducks, 1 male duck is enough for breeding. When five months of age, a high quality and productive duck breed start laying eggs. Instead of ducks, you can use hens for hatching the eggs. Sprinkle the eggs with water occasionally (2 or 3 times per week) during the hatching period.

TO ENABLE YOU TO START A SUCCESSFUL DUCK FARMING OPERATION YOU NEED TO START PUTTING ALL YOUR PLANS/IDEAS ON PAPER WITH A WELL – STRUCTURED AND PROFESSIONAL BUSINESS PLAN.

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FIG FARMING – WHY SHOULD I START?

                                                                                                    

Figs are an ancient food source and were one of the first fruit trees cultivated along with the olive and grapevine. It is known for its adaptability and high productivity whilst being easy to prune and maintain. This make the fig tree a valuable addition to farming and a rewarding long-term investment. There is almost no limit to the use of figs; figs can be eaten fresh, canned, dried, and made into an assortment of preserves. Foodies find them lovely with cheese and figs could also be roasted and added to coffee for an interesting twist.

CULTIVARS

Black Mission

This is a classic pear – shaped fruit with a purple to black skin and red flesh.

Adams

One of the oldest fig cultivars in South Africa. Large fruits, with purple skin and dark red flesh when ripe, ripen late in the season.

Cape White or Kaapse Wit

Very sweet french fig. The small flat fruits with green-yellow skin and straw – colored flesh ripen early.

Kaapse Bruin

One of South Africa’s oldest figs. It ripens early to mid-season with a uniformly brown skin and pink flesh. Resists the attentions of flies well.

 Eva

A unique South African cultivar with small, egg-shaped fruits, greenish purple skin color and straw-colored flesh.

Cape Black or Koffievry

Another unique South African cultivar and popular in domestic gardens. It is a small, black early fig with straw- colored flesh. Can be eaten with the peel.

Tiger or Tiervry

Striking yellow and green stripy fig, fun to grow in the garden. The flesh is reddish pink.

Kadota

An old Italian cultivar with a prominent, fleshy stalk and typical drop of sugar in the “ostiole” or bottom opening when ripe. The skin is greenish yellow with white flecks and the flesh yellow-pink.

White Genoa

This is an early fig that ripens end of January to early February, with an abundance of large, sweet fruits. Skin is yellow-green and the flesh pink.

Brown Turkey

These figs ripen late in the season with light brown to red skin and dark red flesh.

                                                                                                          

HEALTH BENEFITS

Figs are nutritious, calorie- dense fruit and contain high levels of potassium, calcium, vitamins B & E, as well as dietary fiber. Eaten fresh or dried, figs are an ideal food source for increasing energy, strengthening immunity and aiding the digestive system. 

SOIL

The fig can be grown on a wide range of soils; light sand, rich loan, heavy clay or limestone, providing that there is sufficient depth and food drainage. Sandy soil that is medium- dry and contains a good deal of lime is preferred when the crop is intended for drying. Highly acid soils are unsuitable.

HARVESTING

The fruits may be picked from the tree or gathered normally or by mechanical sweepers after they fall on the ground. Harvested fruits are spread out in the shade for a day or two so that the latex will dry a little. Then they are transported to processing plants in boxes.

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MORINGA FARMING – HOW PROFITABLE IS THIS?

                                                                                                                     

Moringa is frequently referred to as “the miracle tree” because all of its parts – from the leaves to flowers, seeds, bark and roots – have nutritional and medicinal uses. Seed pods are oil-rich, yielding 38% to 40% of buttery yellow oil. The oil is highly sought after by cosmetic and pharmaceutical companies, and can be used in cooking, for engine lubrication, and more importantly, as biodiesel.

Even when grown for  biodiesel, Moringa adds for food security. It’s one of the top three most nutritious vegetables in the world and was identified by the World Health Organization as a famine- busting plant.

Moringa oleifera leaves contain  more Vitamin C than oranges, more potassium than bananas and more protein than eggs and milk. The plant has primarily been used for its medicinal and nutritional benefits. For example, in Africa, Moringa has been used by breastfeeding mothers as a supplement due to its ability to increase lactation and to assist them in managing childhood malnutrition, thus decreasing the mortality rate amongst young children (Saambou 2001).

Moringa oleifera is a deciduous tree which within the first year of planting can grow up to 3 meters in height and can subsequently grow as tall as 15 meters. During the first 6-12 months, the Moringa tree can produce fruit, however, on average, it takes a period of 2 years to produce seeds. The favorable conditions under which to grow Moringa oleifera are temperatures between 25 – 30 degrees C, although the plant is capable of withstanding temperatures of up to 48 degrees C.

                                                                                                                              

The Moringa pods are a good source of calcium and phosphorus. The oil extracted from Moringa oleifera seeds contains a approximately 13% saturated fatty acids and 82% unsaturated fatty acids. It is also has a particularly high level of oleic acid (70%) in comparison to other vegetable oils, which usually contain approximately 40% oleic acid.

The roots of the Moringa oleifera are characterized to have medicinal properties. However, consumption in high dosages can be fatal due to the presence of spirochinalkaloid, a fatal nerve paralyzing agent (Nellis 1997).

Several studies have been conducted in exploring the use of Moringa for various industries. The most well-studied and exploited uses of Moringa oleifera are medicinal and nutritional in nature. However, in recent years other uses of Moringa oleifera have been studied and their application explored in other industries such as water treatment and animal feed.

The Moringa oleifera leaves are harvested once a week. During harvesting, care is taken to minimize contamination and remove any residue that may have accumulated on the leaves by washing them three times with clean water. The leaves are then dried and farms employ different drying methods. When the drying process is complete, the Moringa oleifera leaves are milled and then packaged as various products such as capsules, tea and powder.

                                                                                                                            

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HOW TO SET UP AND RUN A COMMERCIAL FARM

                                                                                         

The Agriculture industry of which “commercial farming” is a subset of, is no doubt amongst the leading industries in most countries of the world. Commercial farming is all about mass-cultivation of crops and rearing animals, fish etc for the sole aim of making profits. In most cases it is referred to as mechanized farming.

With the recent advancement in technology farmers can now comfortably grow crops in a country where such crops can hardly survive and in places where there are few farming land. People can even make use of the rooftop (basement) of their houses to cultivate crops even for commercial purposes.

One thing is certain about commercial farming. If you are able to conduct your market research and feasibility studies; you are more likely not going to struggle to sell your farm produce because there are always food processing companies and consumers out there who are ready to buy from you.

With commercial farming, you can afford to combine crop cultivation and animal husbandry or you can decide to only specialize in the cultivation of crops or rearing of animals. The bottom line is that if you have enough land (space) and you are interested in maximizing commercial farming, you are sure going to make huge profits from your business.

                            

Commercial farming/Agriculture, or otherwise known as agribusiness basic characteristics is that high doses of modern inputs are used for higher productivity such as high yielding varieties, fertilizers, insecticides, pesticides, weed killers and so on. In commercial farming, crops that are in high demand, i.e. crops that need to be exported to  other countries or are used as raw materials in industries are produced mainly. In addition, the extent of agriculture marketing differs from region to region.

WHAT DOES IT TAKE TO START A COMMERCIAL FARMING BUSINESS?

After all that has been done, there will be the need to draw u a “farming business plan” . Starting your farming operation with a business plan in place is one of the best things that could possibly happen to any business. This is so because of the clear cut direction which a business plan gives. It enables you to follow a guided path that is growing and surmounting business business challenges. Writing a professional business plan might not come easy as it requires that one goes technical/financial in some sub sets of the business plan document. This is the areas where an expert comes in. There are business plan writers who are specialized in the business of helping rookies draw up business plans.

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Growing Guavas Successfully

                                                                                     

Although guavas are found throughout the country, the growing regions are in the Western Cape and Mpumalanga. The “Fan Retief” cultivar, created in the Western Cape, currently accounts for 90% of the commercial plantings.

Various Cultivars

* Fan Retief – the fruit is pink inside.

* White guava – the fruit is white inside.

* Cherry or Chinese guava – this variety grows into a small bush.

Guavas are eaten as a fresh fruit, dried fruit, are canned, or processed into pulp and concentrate, or even juiced.

Cultivation

The guava is successfully cultivated in a wide range of growing conditions. It is fairly well adjusted to different rainfall while soil pH ranging from 4.5 to 8.2 is proper for desirable plant performance. While guava trees tolerate poor soils, fruit production is substantially enhanced when grown in rich soils under proper management. As a general rule, guavas require very little attention. Nevertheless, guava trees can be grown as cordons on wire fence. Trees can be planted from 2.5 to 8m in any combination of rows and tree spacing.

Pruning & Fruit Thinning

Regular pruning of bearing guava trees are essential. Most guava trees, whether propagated from seed or grafts, produce an abundance of suckers which should be removed from trunk up to 50cm above ground. A framework of four branches representing four quarters of the tree should be established. The crotch angles between the branches and the main stem should be wide enough to facilitate adequate light penetration and provide physical strength to support fruit load at maturity.

Harvesting & Storage

Immature guavas do not ripen off the trees; fruits may soften, but never develop abundant color, and typical flavor associated with good eating enjoyment. Over-ripe fruits drop. There are no visible physical appearances or chemical indices of fruits that consistently reflect the appropriate stage of fruit maturity for harvest. Fruit harvesting should be carried out when the fruit is fully developed, matured, and began to show signs of color change from green to yellowish. Guava fruits should be packed in the natural posture (with the pedicel end of the fruit kept upward) in order to retain better quality for longer periods of time.

A clever marketing campaign for guavas has helped remind consumers about the health benefits of this unpretentious fruit, and opened new opportunities for farmers by reviving the demand for fresh guavas in supermarkets.

TO ENABLE YOU TO START AND RUN A SUCCESSFUL AND PROFITABLE GUAVA FARMING OPERATION YOU WILL NEED A PROFESSIONAL FARMING BUSINESS PLAN AND PROPER ASSISTANCE. CONTACT US TODAY IF YOU NEED HELP AT: (27)84 583 3143 or email: money@global.co.za

                                                                                            

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Sweet Potato Farming – Will this work?

                                                              

Sweet potatoes are easy to plant, need little looking after and deliver high yields. They are usually grown in sandy soil, which makes them easier to dig up. But they also do well in most soils, even heavy clay.

Production Areas

Currently, sweet potato is cultivated in more than 100 countries, mostly throughout tropical and subtropical Asia. In South Africa Limpopo, Mpumalanga, KZN and Western Cape provinces are the major production areas.

Cultivars

There are two broad categories of sweet potato:

1. The staple type with white flesh and white or purple skin has a high starch and dry-maltier content.

2. The desert type with orange flesh and orange skin with a high sugar and beta-carotene content.

Soil Requirements

A well-drained sandy loam is preferred and heavy clay soils should be avoided as they can retard root development, resulting in growth cracks and poor root shape. Lighter soils are more easily washed from the roots at harvest time. Wet season green manure cropping with sterile forage sorghum is recommended and should be thoroughly incorporated and decomposed by planting time.

Planting Period

Planting time of sweet potatoes is mainly determined by the climate of a location. Sweet potato plants are damaged by light frost  and the plants required high temperatures for a period of 4 to 5 months to yield well. In areas with mild frost , mid-November to mid – December is the best time to plant, and usually the crops get ready for harvest from April to May. Cold spells during winter can be a risk, depending on the climate of the specific area. In very hot areas, planting should be avoided from November to middle February as storage root formation is reduced by high temperatures.

Spacing

Optimum plant density depends on the cultivar, but is usually around 40 000 plants per hectare. Rows may vary from 1 to 1,25m apart; in-row spacing it is usually 25 to 30cm.

Irrigation

Requirements for water vary with soil type but can be generally estimated as 18 to 20mm per week early in the season, 40 to 45mm per week during the middle part of the season when storage roots are enlarging rapidly and a reduction to about 20mm late in the season. Excessive moisture early in the season delays storage root development and enlargement; late in the season, it induces cracking and for rotting of roots.

Health Benefits:

* Rich in complex carbohydrates, fibre, Vitamins A,C, and B6.

* Pink yellow and green varieties are high in carotene, the precursor of vitamin A.

* Dark orange flesh have more beta carotene than those with light colored flesh.

* Beneficial food for diabetes because it stabilize blood sugar levels.

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Successful Cassava Farming

                                                           

Cassava is grown as a secondary crop in South Africa by farmers and small holders and is utilized for the production of starch (commercial and food grade starch) as well as various other products.

Production Areas

In South Africa the crop is cultivated in Limpopo, Mpumalanga, and Northern KZN.It is produced on a large scale in Limpopo, mainly for industrial purposes.

Cultivars

“Bitter” and “Sweet” are the two general types of cassava. The sweet type is more commonly grown because of its greater yields.. The color and texture of the root peel are often the only factors used in separating clones in the market.

Water

The cassava plant produces best when rainfall is fairly abundant, but it can be grown where the annual rainfall is as low as 500mm but well-distributed and where it is as high as 5000mm. The cassava plant can stand prolonged periods of drought in which most other food crops would perish. This makes it valuable in regions where the annual rainfall is low or where seasonal distribution is irregular.

Soil Requirements

Cassava grows best on light, sandy loam’s or on loamy sands which are moist, fertile and deep, but also does well on soils ranging in texture from sands to clay and on soils of relatively low fertility. In practice, it is grown on a wide range of soils, provided the soil texture is friable enough to allow the development of the tubers.

                                                              

Harvesting

In regions with seasonal rains, cassava can be harvested throughout the year when the tubers reach maturity. Harvesting usually takes place in the dry season, during the dormant period of the plant. In areas where rain prevails all year round, the crop can be harvested throughout the year. Maturity differs from one variety to the next. The tubers can be harvested between 6 months and 3 years after planting, but for food purposes harvesting can take place at almost any age below 12 months. Harvesting may be delayed until market, processing, or other conditions become favorable.

Marketing

Cassava spoils easily and it is costly to transport in its raw form as it consists mainly of water. Therefore, most of the processing takes place on the farm. Processing results in products such as gari (a type of pickled vegetable), lafun (a fibrous powdery form of cassava) and fufu (a thick paste made by boiling) which all have a longer self life than cassava tubers do.. These products are consumed in the household or sold in the local market. They are sold in South Africa or traders in Swaziland and Mozambique.

Cassava has a high content of fermentable substances. This makes it appropriate for the production of alcohol. the fresh tubers contain about 30% starch and 5% sugars, and the dried tubers contain approximately 80% fermentable substances.

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PROFITABLE & SUSTAINABLE BANANA FARMING

                                          

Farming with banana is an easy and simple process and you can earn good profits. However, to achieve the desired amount of banana production requires:

* dedication to your banana farm;

* good yard management skills; and

* some basic knowledge about banana farming like sit selection, irrigation, care and management.

A banana tree produces at least 20kg banana fruit minimum per each blossom of banana, in a very short time period (approximately 150 days).

Health benefits of bananas:

1. Good for weight loss.

2. Banana fruits is good for the health of heart.

3. Bananas are excellent source of energy.

4. Excellent source of fiber.

5. Bananas are good for eye health and bones.

6. Long time consumption of banana fruit helps in stopping kidney cancer.

7. Banana fruit is also an excellent source of minerals and vitamins.

8. Bananas are rich in vitamin B6 and potassium.

Apart from this, banana tree raw materials are also in high demand and have plenty of application in our day to day life – banana leaves are used in preparing plates, seat pads for benches, umbrellas, clothing fabric, fishing lines and as cooking material in the kitchen.

The main feature of the banana fruit plant is that it can be cultivated throughout the year. The high technology methods for banana farming can improve both the yield and profit. The price of bananas does not fluctuate much in the market , but they tend to increase during important festivals and programs. Due attention and encouragement can help banana farming produce great wealth.

Factors Limiting Production:

There are a few factors that limit production of bananas in most countries. Some include inadequate farm lands and poor maintenance. Others are:

* pests;

* droughts;

* low rainfall;

* infestation;

* low access to organic fertilizers; and

* poor farming techniques.

Marketing

There is a huge market for banana produce locally and internationally. The fruit is used in manufacturing companies, restaurants, fruit markets and stalls. It has both domestic and international demands. The amount of money you make depends on the size of your harvest, quality of produce, price and location.

Land Preparation

Land development for banana plantation is followed by land preparation. This includes: ploughing, disking, harrowing, and planting. Bananas are susceptible to wind damage. Hence, it is highly desirable to plant wind breaks surrounding the plantation blocks. The tall ducasse banana variety is excellent wind breakers for commercial banana farms.

Weeding and Pest Control

Generally, weeds suppress the growth  and reduce the total production by competing for water and nutrient. Hence, banana plants should be protected from weeds. Shallow cultivation in young plantation is advisable to control weeds. Pesticides spraying to minimize crop damage by various pests need to be carried out by daily laborers.

Irrigation

Irrigation is compulsory during dry months. Severe water stress limits the production and quality of fingers. In a hot low land area, irrigating the field in 8 – 10 days interval is accepted by growers.

Fertilization

Heavy applications of organic manures or fertilizers are considered necessary in order to get high yields and to extend the life of the banana plantation. DAP and Urea are the two most important in organic fertilizers which are commonly used in banana production.

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Sunflower Oil Production. How to start?

                                                       

Starting a sunflower oil farming or production business is capital intensive, but it is a money spinning business if it is well located and if you are able to create a robust distribution network.

Why start a Sunflower Oil farming/production business?

It is almost certified that no entrepreneur would want to go into any business that has slim chances of making a profit, hence the need to start a business whose products or services is accepted and used by all. One such business is the production of sunflower oil. It is a fact that all homes, restaurants, hotels and related businesses make use of oil on a daily basis.

Sunflowers are large plants and are grown throughout the world because of their relatively short growing season. Sunflower plants reach various heights, but most are from 1.52-2.1m tall. The diameter of the flower heads is relatively large, typically between 7.62 and 15.24cm, although some can measure more than 30cm. A common characteristic of sunflowers is a tendency for their flowering heads to follow the movement of the sun during the day. This phenomenon, called heliotropism, has the benefit of reducing damage from birds and preventing the development of disease.

Sunflowers are used to make oil, meal and confectionery products. Oil and meal are processed from the same sunflower seed varieties. The seed variety used for confectionery products has a lower percentage of oil. The seed is usually black with white stripes and is larger than the seed cultivated for oil extraction; the hull is heavier and less firmly attached to the kernel, and its oil content rarely exceeds 35%. Sunflower oil manufacture involves cleaning the seeds, grinding them, pressing and extracting the crude oil from them, and further refining. In extracting the oil, a volatile hydrocarbon such as hexane is used as a solvent to extract the oil.

                                        

Production Areas

Sunflower seed is produced mostly in the 6 provinces out of the 9 provinces excluding Western Cape, Eastern Cape and KZN. North West and the Free State produce a significant number of approximately 85% of sunflower seed. Sunflower seed can be planted from the beginning of November to the end of December, which is almost the same time for maize plantings..

Processing

Sunflower seed provides 40-50% of oil, which is mostly processed to cooking oil. The cooking oil is used on a daily basis in households, restaurants, and various food industries. Sunflower is the basic raw material for the preparation of margarine and spreads, used daily by millions of people. Some pet food also contains oil-seed raw material. In desperate times sunflower oil can also be converted to diesel for use in diesel engines as bio-fuel.

Opportunities

Sunflower seed production is very suitable for the South African climatic conditions and is performing well for income generation to the rest of the agriculture sector. There is  a big lack of black economic empowerment in this industry and also in the seed trade industry in general. The fact that the growth season of sunflower is short, added to its drought tolerance; it can serve as an ideal alternative crop on low potential soils when it is late to plant maize.

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Successful Lucerne Farming

                                                            

Lucerne’s extensive root system enables the crop to produce good yields even under relatively dry conditions. Lucerne perennial nature means that once successfully established reliable production could be expected for at least the following 3-4 years.

With a lower cell wall content than grass lucerne is highly digestible and intake tends to be high. Protein and mineral contents are also high making lucerne a valuable alternative forage. It is particularly suitable as a complementary feed when feed alongside maize silage.

Soil Preparation

When lucerne is to be established under irrigation, it is especially desirable to prepare a fine and firm seedbed. As the soil will be irrigated for a number of seasons, well laid out beds save costs and ensure high yields. As efficient weed control is practically impossible in new established lucerne lands, the preparation of the soil must be such that the seedbed is practically weed free at the time of establishment. It must always be kept in mind that lucerne usually remains on the land of a number of years and that good soil preparation before establishment is of the utmost importance because this will eliminate future problems.

Establishment

1. Choose a area that is well drained and spray out to eliminate all weeds.

2. Soil test to determine crop time and nutrient requirements.

3. Cultivate to achieve a fine, even seedbed with no compaction layers.

4. Plant high quality, certified seed.

5. Avoid sowing lucerne seed into dry soils.

6. Plant coated seed and sow at 12 – 18 kg/ha.

Planting Depth

Lucerne is a small seed with a limited supply of stored energy to support the developing seeding. Therefore, correct seeding depth is very important. Placing seed in a moist soil at a uniform relatively shallow depth maximizes germination an emergence.

Plant lucerne no deeper than 25mm with the optimal soil depth ranging from 6-12mm on clay and loam soils and 12-25mm on sand. Lucerne seedlings that do emerge from deeper than 25mm are weaker because of the energy expended during germination. Use the shallow depth for early spring seedlings when moisture is more abundant.

Lucerne Silage

Cutting fresh lucerne at the optimal stage of maturity and feeding it directly to animals year round would supply the highest quality and most palatable feed possible. In addition, field and storage losses would be minimized. However, fluctuations in seasonal growth and plant maturity as well as changing animal feed requirements may make it necessary to harvest and store the lucerne crop to maximize both quality and quantity.

Silage compared to hay:

1. Lower field losses when harvested as silage.

2. Less leaf loss resulting in more nutrients for feeding.

3. Consistent forage quality.

4. Greater ability to harvest the crop at ideal maturity as less rain-free weather is required for silage.

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Pepper & Cucumber Farming

                                                                                                

Peppers are great fun and much easier to grow successfully than some other crops. Chili and sweet peppers are a diverse bunch; they are colorful crops and the assortment of shapes and sizes is a treat to behold in any greenhouse (tunnel) or on the open plot. The flavors are just as diverse, ranging from mild and sweet to eye-watering hot so there is sure to be something to suit everyone’s taste among the hundreds of varieties available from seed catalogues and specialists.

PROPAGATION

Peppers require a reasonably long growing season to produce best results and sowing early will give them that. Sow seeds in or cell trays (modules) using fresh multipurpose or seed compost. Since, peppers particularly the chilies, can be quite prolific, prolific, why not sow just a few seeds of each variety; each has its own unique flavor and it can be great fun to try lots of different ones to be able to pick fruit in a range of shapes and colors.

FEEDING

Although peppers are not as hungry as tomatoes, they do need regular feeding to keep them healthy and productive. Feeding with a high polash liquid fertilizer mixed at half strength watering ensures that plants always have plenty of nutrients. Feeding need not start until 3 weeks after potting on, since the compost will contain all the minerals your plants need until then.

HARVESTING

You can choose to harvest the fruit when unripe and green or fully ripe and colored up. It’s at this stage that chilli peppers are at their hottest and sweet peppers their sweetest. Peppers can be stored in a number of ways – slowly dried in a cool oven (or in sunshine), sliced, roasted and stored in oil, frozen or of course used fresh. If dried and stored in airtight jars they should last for up to a year – in time for the next harvest.

                                           

CUCUMBERS

The cucumber plant is one of the most famous and widely cultivated vegetable plants. Cucumbers belongs to a gourd family of “cucurbitaceae, genus of “Cucumis”. This is basically a creeping wine that bears cylindrical shaped fruits that are used as vegetables. Cucumber is an important summer vegetable crop grown all over the world. Cucumber seeds can be used in oil extraction – this oil are used for most peoples daily cooking’s and an be eaten raw or with salt in salad.

Throughout the world, there are three main varieties of the cucumber veggie cultivated. Out of these, other types of the cucumber family have emerged. Cucumber first originated in Southern Asia before the cultivation spread to other parts of the world. The plant can be grown in hydroponic systems, greenhouses and poly-houses as well.

A recent research shows that cucumbers ate the 8th most grown veggie crop around the globe, followed by maize, cassava, watermelons, dry onions, sweet potatoes and sugar beet.

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How profitable is Bamboo Farming?

                             

Bamboos does not have a hundred uses: Studies done by IDC (Industrial Development Corporation) and other role players show over a “thousand”. Clearly there is a lot more to bamboo products and bamboo processing than than would immediately occur to the reader. Not only does bamboos have many uses, it is a non- invasive crop that can help develop agriculture and contribute towards lifting human beings out of poverty by creating jobs in rural areas.

Bamboo – the highly versatile giant grass that can grow in almost any kind of climate and thrive in the poorest of soils – has been in existence for hundreds of years in Asia, Latin America and parts of Africa. Yet, for a long time the potential of this fastest- growing plant on earth, with recorded growth rates of up to one metre per day for some species, remained largely unexploited.

Bamboo – is used to make a long list of high-value products. In fact, according to the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP), the plant has over 2000 different uses. China reckons there are nearly 10 000 uses and can fetch even more money if processed.

“Commercially” Bamboo is used for furniture and a variety of building and roofing materials, from fencing poles to veneer, floor tiles, panels for walls and ceilings, scaffolding material, door and window frames and window blinders.

In the “paper & pulp industry”, Bamboo can be made into newsprint, toilet paper and cardboard. The textile, food and chemical industries convert bamboo into fabrics, T-Shirts, wine, vinegar, biochemicals and pharmaceuticals. Domestically bamboo is used to make mats, baskets, canoes, fishing kits, bicycles, fences, toothpicks, school desks, pencils and rulers, to name just a few products.

Bamboo is also a source of bio-energy”. As the population in Africa increases, the massive harvesting off firewood and charcoal will be unsustainable and bamboo provides a clean and renewable energy alternative in the form of charcoal briquettes and wood for domestic and industrial use.

Bamboo Benefits

1. Can be planted as noise barriers and windbreaks.

2. Provides a habitat for wildlife and improved biodiversity.

3. Contributes to economic development and creation of jobs at a local level.

4. Can be a growe