It has been said over and over again that there can never be sweet without sweat. Rightly so, farmers should not expect to get good returns from their produce if they are not up to the task to ensure that they use good management practices. The same sentiments were echoed or underscored by Peter Badenhorst of Ramogomana Farming at a horticulture farming workshop in Artesia recently.
The horticulture sector like other farming sectors in the country has great potential if only farmers are determined enough. There are critical things that a horticulture farmer has to do in order to produce quality yields and in turn enjoy good returns. According to Badenhorst it is economical for horticulture farmers to produce their own seedlings instead of importing or sourcing them from somewhere else. He argues that seedlings turn to lose their quality due to long distance transportation especially when they are from outside the country borders.
Meanwhile, Badenhorst told attendees at the workshop that they should make sure that they produce quality seedlings. He argued that to produce quality seedlings the farmer has to consider things such as the germination mix, storage of the seedlings, water and feeds. Badenhorst is of the view that the germination mix should be able to ensure good root penetration and should also be able to contain moisture.
Seedlings should be stored on a shade net. The seedling trays should be placed 500-700mm from the ground. The purpose of this is to ensure sufficient air ventilation. Seedlings should be watered twice during summer-in the morning and in the afternoon. However, seedlings need more water in the morning than in the evening-this is mainly because they use more water during the day. It is important however, to give them that little water in the evening.
During winter it is advisable to water seedlings in the mornings only. According to Badenhorst plants need food to be able to be healthy and strong. For this reason, he says that an organic bio stimulant called Kelpak together with sea grow should be given to the seedling a week after germination. Kelpak helps in root development whereas sea grow is food to the plant-like milk to an infant. The plant should be given sea grow only in week two and three.
Before transplanting, the farmer needs to prepare his field-seedbed. The seedbed should be made in such a way that it allows for easy root penetration. It is also advisable to plant on ridges. According to Badenhorst, ridges help in minimizing the chances of plants being waterlogged. Cultivation of about 200mm should be done. If one has equipment he or she can cultivate up to 300mm. The seedbed should be sprayed with chloprifos to worms and pests.
When the plant has been transplanted the plant should continue to be given much needed attention. The plant has to be well fed. Badenhorst told farmers that for top dressing or foliar feeding the plant should be given Sea grow two weeks after transplanting. He warned farmers against using ordinary water for plants adding that they should mix water with Bladbuff.
Meanwhile Badenhorst told farmers at the workshop that it is critical for a farmer to be in the farm every day-morning and evening to check on his crops. The farmer has to literally touch and feel his crops. It is through this daily check-ups or inspections that the farmer is able to pick pests and any abnormalities in the plants at an early stage.
He also implored farmers to pay attention to chemical labels. He said that farmers should learn to take time to go through the chemicals’ instructions for efficient use. FMB