Farmers’ Diaries: Vincent Doku

Now that its Autumn, the days are becoming shorter and the nights and early mornings cooler. African Farming went to find out what our farmers are busy with.

VEGETABLES

Vincent Doku, Jericho, Brits, North West

We have just finished preparing our land and are ready to plant about 70 000 cabbage seedlings in the next week. We order the seedlings, which are ready for planting at six weeks, rather than plant seed directly ourselves, as delayed germination is a risk, as is possible damage to germinating plants from birds or pests.

We started soil preparation by ploughing about 0,5m deep, followed by disking and ridge-making. The ridges help with drainage, as cabbage is quite sensitive to waterlogging.

We then applied about 20 tons/ha of cow manure. We plant Sakata’s Optima cultivar, which we bought from Dan Man Boerdery in Brits. Optima caters for our target market, mainly hawkers, because it produces a larger-headed cabbage that weighs between 5kg and 8kg.

This is what they want: they make more money from these as they sell them at higher prices than they would sell the smaller heads. They can also cut them into halves or quarters.

The other advantage of Optima is that it has been bred to resist some of the most common cabbage diseases such as black rot.

The planting space is between 60cm and 70cm to allow the heads optimum growth. After planting the seedlings, we top-dress with Sasol’s LAN. We drip-irrigate the plants for about three hours every day, which is about six litres per day per plant.

We have an ongoing maintenance programme, weeding and scouting for pests and diseases. From planting to harvest is about 90 days, but this period may be shorter if you plant seedlings as we do.

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