The horticultural industry has had a profound impact on Kenyan farmers in more than one way. Creating more opportunities through the focus of this type of farming has enabled farmers to look at different farming ventures.
This change has intrigued farmers at the financial level to how horticultural farming can bring better gains and other added advantages compared to normal maize and bean farming.
In this case, I choose to highlight Raspberry farming as one of the profitable horticultural farming ventures earning Kenyan farmers an extra deserved coin.
Okay! Here’s the answer to the maiden question. Yes, strawberries and raspberries do have differences. Despite belonging to the same botanical family Rosaceae (Rose), the difference lies in their species.
Out with the botanical explanations in with the benefits of farming raspberries for profits.
They are not called fruits of success for no reason. Packed and weighed in grams, a packet of 200gms large-sized raspberries sales at Ksh 195. This does not even measure to an eighth of a kilogram! Hope you are all amazed and perplexed like I am about this fruit.
Let’s get down to business and learn how to grow and manage this very expensive and successful fruit as a farmer and consumer.
There are a variety of berries and all contain the same nutritional value. Black and red berries are the native berries, which are also well known. They are distinguished by their harvest seasons, which are the warm and cold seasons.
Other varieties include;
· The yellow ones are a mutation of the black and red.
· Purple ones are across mutation between the red and blackberries.
Raspberries can grow in both warm and cooler climatic conditions depending on the variety chosen for farming.
Areas prone to high rainfall and sunlight coverage are most ideal for raspberry farming.
The 21st century is the perfect time to become a seasoned farmer despite the weather conditions. Create favorable conditions designed to support growth and high yields for your respective type of berry and enjoy farming.
The rest will be a smile to the bank after earning your hard-earned coin.
How to prepare Land for Planting
Raspberry is a shrub that grows well in well-drained sandy loam soils. Since the plant requires a high amount of water for both growing and fruit production.
The soils should hold water adequately while not becoming waterlogged for long periods.
Mix organic compounds to the soil for high vegetative growth. Recommended soil pH of 6.5 – 75. Depending on desired planting option prepare the land to suit your plant’s growth and nutrient access.
This fruit can be grown either by potting, open fields, or even garden areas. This means your land preparation will be determined by the above-mentioned planting options.
No matter the planting option ensure you have enough organic compost well mixed with the soil before planting takes place.
Planting Process and Recommendations
The best way to plant raspberries is through seedling transplanting.
These shrubs require delicate care in the early days of their germination therefore best to avoid disappointment during this process and get mature seedlings.
The 1-year-old seedlings are the best to begin your farming experience with compared to 2 year old. For suitable seedlings make your purchase from a reputable agricultural organization dealing with berry farming.
Dig 1 -2 inch hole deep and place the seedlings up to the stem level. Once this is done make sure to have enough organic compost surrounding the hole.
Prune the stem to ground level, which will make the plant appear as a stick emanating from the ground. It gives the plant a chance to sprout again and have enough time to grow into its vegetative state.
Remember to irrigate your sprouts well during the first periods of growth to avoid withering and slow growth. Due to evaporation and lack of water to expedite the speed of growth.
The roots of raspberry plants spread out making them not suitable for planting on hilly sides or any steep area. Open fields are the most recommended planting areas if not in pots.
Blackberries sprout from the central cane while the red sprout from the roots. When this happens make sure to manage each sprout accordingly.
Ensure there is enough space between one shrub to the next. Space 18 inches apart and 4 inches between rows. In other cases, spacing of 2.75 meters between aisles and 60 cm between plants can be practiced.
Raspberry is a self-fertile shrub making it a highly vegetative plant. Therefore, pruning becomes a second to nature activity in your farming venture.
For the blackberry, shrubs trim the side branches to approximately 8 – 10 inches. This allows for new branches to sprout and produce new fruit.
Adequate fruit yields are gotten after the third year of fruit yielding. This continues for the next 10 -15 years of high-yielding raspberry fruit.
After each harvest, prune all the fruit-producing brown canes that are remaining on the main plant. Once these are pruned new branches start to sprout and begin another harvest within 3 -4 months.
Trellising the Shrubs
Remember your plants are self-fertile these makes them highly vegetative. Trellising will give the branches the needed support while avoiding breakage and fruit damage.
Establish the most appropriate way to trellis your plants without hindering the growth and formation of new fruits.
Trellis before the onset of the flowering phase to manages flower damage by knocking them off the plant. Which later impacts your fruit yields during harvesting.
How to Care and Protect Berry Shrubs
No farming venture will not have challenges. But where would be the fun if we did not have to break our minds a little bit!
Berry plants are prone to pests and diseases like any other crop on the farm. Some of the common pests and diseases that infest berry shrubs include;
- Cane Borers
- Root weevils
- Spider Mites and Aphids.
- Spotted wing drosophila
The use of organic manure and fertilizers work best to prevent the above-mentioned pests and disease. Apply fertilizers annually to allow for nutrient utilization and avoid burning caused by excess fertilizer application.
Recommended mode of application is by broadcasting followed by shallow cultivation to increase nutrient absorption levels.
One Simple way to prevent weeds and pests from attacking your shrub is by mulching all through the growth period.
How to Harvest and Store
Berries are best harvested by handpicking.
These fruits are delicate and once they are ripe for harvesting they require minimal energy to pluck them from the branches. Important to schedule the most appropriate time to harvest to avoid withering of the fruit.
Early mornings or late evening hours become the most appropriate to harvest your berries. This will have little to no moisture content impact on the fruits.
Once harvesting is done do not wash fruits to avoid lowering the quality of the product. Washing berries makes them soggy therefore reducing quality and shelf life.
Most berries are harvested for direct consumption either as they are or for making natural jam, pies, and other homestead pastries.
For commercial purposes pack your berries when harvesting to reduce contamination and maintain quality. When exporting berries freeze them to maintain quality and nutrition content while preventing them from becoming soggy.
Depending on the level of sunlight exposure and hydration each shrub is expected to produce about 4 – 5 kgs of fruit. As I earlier mentioned these fruits are measured in the most minimal quantity giving a farmer the cash to cash on each size of fruit expansively.
Never shy away from giving your plants the best to have the highest quality and fruit size. The larger the fruit the heavier it is meaning the more cash you get.
Health Facts about Raspberries
They contain high levels of antioxidants and anti-inflammatory properties
Best for boosting your immune levels
Contain natural anti-aging properties
Berries promote female health
Good for weight management
Prevent muscular degeneration in elderly persons
Contains high nutrition value – Vitamin C, Iron, and Manganese
DID YOU KNOW: Bees are the best pollinators of berries (Yes, beekeeping would complement raspberry farming)