The Sunday Mail
One of the lucrative crop to do in horticulture production is rape because it is almost a daily need for every family.
For one to be able to do horticulture production, the soil pH should range from 5 to 7. That is why it is advisable for farmers to do soil test before starting on any activity, even those who want to do backyard farming.
But there are other essentials as well, like looking for the market of the intended crop and as well as researching on what the market wants.
In terms of rape, big leaf size and sweet taste are the main qualities that the market wants. Over fertilisation of the soil will result in a bigger leaf size but bitter taste that is not be wanted by the market.
Then comes land preparation and making beds. It is advisable to add manure to improve the soil and the quality of the leaf. Apply Lamda cyhalothrin (insecticide) to control cutworms in the soil. The manure needs to be treated before laying it in the soil.
Rape spacing ranges from 15 to 30 cm inrow and 40 to 50 cm between rows.
The general fertilizer used in rape production is Compound C (400kg) and ammonium nitrate (100kg) per hectare but this is usually dictated by soil test results.
It will take four weeks to start harvesting and harvesting can last between four and six weeks. Farmers are advised to stagger the crop as this will help one to maintain a continuous supply to the market.
The major diseases affecting rape production
These are some of the fungal diseases that affect the brassicas family, of which rape is one.
To control these fungal diseases, one has to remove the affected leaves first then spray fungicides like Copper oxychloride 85 WP or Dithane M45. Ii is further advised that fungicides should be sprayed in the late afternoon when the fungi are stable at one place because in the morning, irrigation takes place and all fungal diseases spread with water .
Insects that a farmer should be aware of when he wants to venture into rape productions are cutworms, aphids and beetles.
For the control of these insects, the use of insecticides like Diazinon 30EC, Malathion 25 WP and Thionex 50 WP. Insecticides should be sprayed early in the morning, say from 5am to 6 am, before the sun is up so that the chemical will be effective as the insects will not have started flying around.