Vegetable production: Potato bacterial diseases

We look at the bacterial pathogens that can cause disease in potato plants and tubers. Yield losses and reduced cosmetic value are 2 of the detrimental effects bacterial diseases can have in the potato industry. Of these, Ralstonia solanacearum (bacterial wilt), Pectobacterium spp, Dickeya spp (previously known as Erwinia spp)…

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Vegetable production: Controlling potato pests

Learning how to identify insect potato pests helps us to decide on a course of treatment. Taking a close look at the most important of the more than 60 insect pests that attack potatoes will help potato farmers to protect their crops and income. POTATO TUBER MOTH The moths are…

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Hydroponic farming: Managing disease in hydroponic systems

Certain diseases can wreak havoc in hydroponic systems – guard against them by following this advice. Plants grown in hydroponic systems are susceptible to many of the diseases affecting field-grown vegetable crops. But because hydroponic systems are grown under shelter (plastic tunnels/shade net), fungal and bacterial diseases of the above-ground parts…

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Vegetable production: Grow potatoes profitably

Potatoes are the fourth most important food crop in the world, after wheat, maize and rice. They are also the second highest vegetable producer of protein (second only to soya beans) and have a more balanced content of minerals and vitamins than any other major carbohydrate food crop. Potatoes are…

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Vegetable production: How to go organic – the basics

Organic crop production is about using natural materials to improve soil fertility, mainly of humus and micro-organisms that break down the organic material so plants can use it. Humus (an end product of compost) and globulin (produced by micorisa fungi) are particularly important. Humus retains up to 80% of water;…

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Vegetable production: Establishing onions using sets

Direct seeding, sets and transplants can be used to establish onions. Direct seeding, using precision planters, is the preferred system for larger plantings. Transplants are less popular because of the high labour cost. Therefore, although expensive, planting sets can be useful for extending the harvesting season. The information given in…

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Vegetable production: Don’t underestimate morogo

Morogo (imifino) long bore the image of poverty and deprivation - food only eaten by those who couldn’t afford meat. Today, more and more people are recognising its true nutritional and cultural value. There are many different kinds of morogo and the leaves are freely available. Traditionally, most morogo is…

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Vegetable production: Seed potatoes – make an informed choice

Potatoes are one of the few annual crops for which vegetative tissue (tubers) are used instead of botanical seed. Tubers used as planting material are known as seed potatoes. Edible tubers are called ware or table potatoes. Using them as seed can cause problems, as one does not know how…

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Vegetable production: Fungal diseases affecting the common bean

If a bean plant is not looking healthy, the cause could be any of a number of factors, including poor or unbalanced nutrition, drought and/or heat, water-logging, frost, sunburn, an overdose of herbicide, pests such as aphids, or a disease. Here are some tips on how to deal with important…

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Vegetable production: The basics of biological control

The huge variety of biological pest control products now available is enough to confuse any farmer. The increased demand for biological control products can largely be ascribed to problems developed from the use of chemical pesticides. These problems include pest resurgence, resistance, environmental pollution and risks to human health. The…

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Vegetable production: Rye as a windbreak for your carrots

A farmer from Bothaville in South Africa’s Free State Province uses rye as a windbreak for his carrot fields. Wind damage to their young carrots is a serious challenge for Toks Liebenberg from Greenpak and Attie Grobler, Farm Manager at Fraaiuitsig, which forms part of Greenpak. In an attempt to…

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Vegetable production: Pest and weed control for your bell peppers

Here’s some expert advice on weed and pest control for your bell peppers. APHIDS Aphids (mainly Myzus persicae or green peach aphids) are small, soft bodied insects that can be green, black, yellow or pink. They are found on the terminal growth ends or underneath the leaf of the plant.…

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Vegetable production: Getting your soil right for bell peppers

Here’s some expert advice on the cultivation of bell, or sweet, peppers and how to prepare your soil to produce healthy yields. CULTIVATION Bell pepper seed can be sown directly into the field, but commercial farmers prefer to transplant seedlings bought from vegetable seedling growers or prepared by themselves. Sowing…

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Vegetable production: An introduction to planting healthy bell peppers

The bell pepper is a healthy vegetable and can be utilised in its raw or cooked state. Its subtle taste adds flavour to many dishes. It is the only Capsicum that does not produce capsaicin, the chemical that gives other chillies their hot, fiery taste. The bell pepper is an…

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Vegetable production: How to build soil fertility with organic fertiliser

Chemical fertilisers may be expensive, but they are needed for optimal vegetable production. A panel of experts from the South African Agricultural Research Council (ARC) has the following advice on how to build soil nutrient status with organic fertilisers. Where funds are limited, use at least 25% of the recommended…

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The type of soil you have can influence your crop harvest. You might need to add some organic matter to enhance soil quality.

Vegetable production: The art of cultivating onions

Question: I would like to start growing onions. Do you have any advice? If dried correctly, onions can be stored after harvest until needed or marketed at a time when prices favour the grower. Onions (Allium cepa L.) have been used as food for centuries. They are an important vegetable…

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Once the onions have been lifted, they should not stay on the ground for too long.

Vegetable production: More about diamondback moth – the number one pest on cabbages

Various insect pests – such as the bagrada bug, diamond back moth, greater cabbage moth, army worm, bollworms and aphids – attack cabbages. The diamondback moth is the most destructive of them all. The larvae of the diamondback moth (Plutella xylostella) are a serious pest on most plants in the…

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A diamondback moth. Photo: Commons.wikimedia.org

Vegetable production: Beat pests with crop rotation and companion planting

Monoculture crop production has been associated with an increase in pests and soil-borne disease. Using crop rotation and companion planting can help to break disease cycles and improve soil health. Crop rotation is one of the most basic principles of vegetable production and should always be practised. It’s best described…

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Vegetable production: How to produce, harvest and store sweet potatoes 

Sweet potatoes form a key staple and poverty-relief crop in southern Africa. Orange-fleshed types are useful in combating the vitamin A deficiency which causes many African children to go blind. The sweet potato performs well in sandy-loam, loam or clay-loam soil. It needs good drainage and is sensitive to water-logging, salinity…

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Vegetable production: Protecting your sweet potato harvest

Question: I’m producing sweet potatoes. Which pests and diseases should I guard against? Sweet potato weevil and sweet potato moth are the pests that most often affect sweet potatoes. The most important field diseases are sweet potato feathery mottle virus, fusarium wilt, alternaria leaf spot, soft rot, sclerotium wilt, scurf…

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Vegetable production: Grow top-quality carrots

Carrots are important root crops in commercial and home gardens for vegetable production. Here are some pointers for cultivating them. Carrots (Daucus carota) are members of the Apaceae family and are grown for the edible root, which can be eaten raw or cooked. They are rich in carotene (vitamin A).…

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Vegetable production: Plant easy-to-grow Swiss chard

This dark green, leafy vegetable has high yields if it is regularly harvested. The growing season can be lengthened to between 5 and 7 months as long as there are no adverse weather events.    Swiss chard looks a lot like spinach but has broader leaves and thicker stems, both…

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