Over the last several months, there has been a growing trend of farmers growing groundnuts and other high-valued cash crops in the country. This is because traditional crops such as beans and maize are no longer profitable.
Currently, the market rate for groundnuts stands at around 12,000 shillings per 100 kilos. This means if you get an average yield of 1.6 tonnes, you can make a whopping 192,000 Kenya Shillings in just three months.
Another reason why farmers prefer groundnuts to traditional crops such as maize, is that groundnuts require little maintenance, and it also adds value to Soil because it produces nitrogen.
Growing groundnuts can be categorized into four main stages;
- Land preparation
- seed selection
- Fertilizer preparation
- Field management
The first process of growing groundnuts is to identify a suitable piece of land with the right pH levels and nutrients. The best way to do this is to have a soil test done so that an expert can identify whether the land in question has the right nutrients for growing groundnuts.
Groundnuts can be grown in all types of soil except heavy soil. If possible, groundnuts will perform best in sandy loam soil and avoid clay soils.
In terms of PH, groundnuts will perform best in soils with a PH of 5.3 to 7.3. If the soil is too acidic, we advise you to add lime to increase the pH.
Note: Once you grow groundnuts make sure you grow other crops at atleast every two seasons to avoid a buildup of nematodes. Crops to avoid growing together with groundnuts are beans and other leguminous crops.
There are certain factors that you need to consider when preparing your land. For example, if you are growing groundnuts in low-lying areas prone to waterlogging, we advise you to plant them in Ridges. Also, ensure that the land is well prepared to reduce weed infestation.
Types of Groundnuts
When selecting a suitable groundnut seed, we advise that you choose hybrid seeds for your local area. If you’re looking for a short-season variety seed, you can select the Nyanda variety or the Mwenje variety.
Nyanda is resistant to aphids, Hilda and grain moths. It has good carnal yields of around 1 ton per hectare, is drought-resistant, and has a good seed appearance and uniformity.
Another seed variety that you can choose is the SC Mwenje. This variety is aphids resistant, Hilda resistant, and can also tolerate a wide range of viruses such as the Rosette virus. If proper care and management practices are followed, you can expect a yield of around 1.3 tonnes per hectare.
Other types of groundnuts include Natal Common and Lianda. If suitable agronomic practices are followed, you can expect a grain yield of 4000 kg per hectare. You can also consider other types of groundnuts: Red Valencia, Attica, Homa Bay, Texas peanut, Makulu red, and Red Oriata.
Instead of advocating for one particular fertilizer band, we prefer a fertilizer that meets your farm’s individual farm’s needs. For example, if the farmer realizes that the groundnuts are nitrogen deficient, they should use a nitrogen-based fertilizer.
The best way to tell whether young groundnuts require nitrogen is to look at the leaves. If the leaves appear stunted and have a light yellow color, you will need to order a nitrogen-based fertilizer. This is despite the fact that groundnuts produce nitrogen. Nitrogen helps in vegetative growth and the formation of amino acids. This will ultimately increase yields.
Potassium is important to groundnut plants because it helps them become disease and pest-resistant. In addition, it also helps in the closing and opening of the stomata.
Potassium deficiency can be seen by looking at the groundnut leaves. If the leaves show signs of chlorosis (have a yellow color along the leaf margins), the Farmer requires a potassium-based fertilizer.
Phosphorus is important because it helps the roots develop. The easiest way to tell whether your groundnut crop requires a phosphorus-based fertilizer is to look at the leaves. If the leaves have a purplish color, then the farmer will need a phosphorus-based fertilizer.
Other nutrient deficiencies that you need to be aware of include boron deficiency, Zinc deficiency, iron deficiency, and manganese deficiency.
Planting Ground Nuts
When planting groundnuts, there are a few things that you need to be aware of. For example, always plant when the soil is moist. Also, plant in rows 40 to 50 cm apart. Planting in rows has several advantages, such as achieving the recommended plant density and that the bonds will mature more uniformly.
It is also important to note that planting in rows makes it easier to weed. Also, when applying fertilizer, do not apply fertilizer together with the seed. Instead, place the fertilizer first, cover the hole with soil and then plant the seed on top of the covered fertilizer. Plant the seeds at a depth of 5 cm, and do not forget to test their efficiency.
How to Test Your Groundnut Seeds for Efficiency
Before you commit to planting on an entire one or two acres, you need to test the seed variety you will plant. The best way to do this is to test it by planting 50 seeds. If less than 30 of them germinate, then the seed is not good for planting.
If 40 seeds germinate out of the 50 planted, this indicates that the seed variety is good for planting.
Finally, you need to take general care of your farm by identifying pests and diseases before they wreck havoc on your farm.