Sweet potato benefits
Sweet potatoes farming is done in kenya because of its tolerance to all of the ecological conditions.
It is mainly grown in small scale subsistence farming. The tubers of sweet potatoes are rich in vitamin A which improves body health.
They can be boiled, roasted or eaten raw. The sweet potatoes vines are always useful because these are fodder crops used in the dry season. Sweet potatoes requires very low input hence very profitable to farmers. This is how sweet potatoes farming in kenya is done.
Sweet potatoes does well in sandy loam soils with good drainage and also warm-weather best of 23 degrees Celsius. Cold temperatures enhances retarded growth of sweet potatoes.
They are sensitive to alkaline soil which should be avoided during planting.
Plough the land and Harrow the soil to bring them to fine tilth. Hardpans hinders tuber formation of sweet potatoes. Sweet potatoes are mainly grown on ridges to help in high-yielding, quality storage roots, moisture conservation and reduce soil erosion.
Ensure you get vine cuttings from harvested sweet potatoes to be used as seeds.
Make ridges uniformly with 1M spacing between rows and cut crop residues to about 30 cm each.
Vine cuttings are now placed inside the ridges opposite each other uniformly on the ridge. Ensure the vine cuttings are held firmly on ridges with the soil.
The seed rate of sweet potatoes is 10,000 cuttings per acre and the vine cuttings depth should be 4-6 cm deep.
It is recommended to plant sweet potatoes on onset of rains so as to improve its shoot development in the early stage.
Farmyard manure can be added to the ridges to increase its productivity. However, sweet potatoes normally does not require fertilizers.
Ensure weeds are controlled as the sweet potatoes mature by weeding. As soon as it’s vines mature, sweet potato vines can act as weed suppressors. This is because they cover large surface area hence suppressing the weeds.
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Harvesting of sweet potatoes can start at five to six months after planting. Digging on the furrows to exposed tubbers using a jembe is done.
It is important to carefully uproot tubers to avoid wounding of tubers. The tubers can be cured on sunlight for one day where they can be stored on sacks ready for sale or consumption.
Important farm practices tips
Weeding: This is getting rid of unwanted plants that grows alongside planted crops and compete with them for nutrients and water. They also harbour pest and diseases which might be harmful to plants and also reducing the yields.
Nutrition: nutrients helps plants in good growth and high yields. There are various fertilizers types that can be added to plants. They include the basal, foliar through the macro and micro nutrient elements.
Basal fertilizers; these are available in Argostores countrywide they include DAP,CAN,NPK and UREA.
Manure; these are nutrition added to soil to increase nutrients. They include animal droppings and decomposed Waste from grass and plant waste.
Sheep, goats and cows waste can be dried to make manure then added to soil to add nutrition. Decomposed waste can also be added to the soil to provide maximum nutrition to plants.
manure is widely used and available in Kenya with cheap price.
Irrigation:this is a common practice by farmers especially in areas that receive minimum or no rainfall at all. It has proved to be an effective method in crop production especially in semi-arid areas like Perkerra irrigation scheme in Marigat area Kenya. High-yielding crops are produced in this area with irrigation practice.
Types of irrigation method include.
- Drip irrigation
- Canal irrigation
- Overhead irrigation
Mulching: this is a practice of adding materials like grass Waste or husks on nursery beds or on top of root seedlings covered by soil after planting.
It helps to conserve moisture in the soil as it reduces evaporation of water from the soil. Mulching also helps to suppress weeds. When mulching is done soil gets exposed to minimal sunlight hence discourages the growth of unwanted plants called weeds.
This practice is effective on nursery beds and newly transplanted crops.
Pruning: some plants develop Overgrown branches, buds and also yellow or withered leaves. It is important to pluck off these leaves and branches to make a clean plantation and also to reduce infection to other leaves which may occur with infected or withered leaves.