French beans farming in Kenya has been on the rise for years now.
A lot of farmers believe that they can make more money by growing french beans than any other crop because they are easy to grow and require less water than some other crops. They also do not need to be replanted every year, which saves both time and money!
Commonly known as ‘Mishiri’ , it is a crop that is mainly exported to other countries due to its low consumption here in Kenya.
Many farmers who grow French beans in Kenya have entered into contract farming with companies who export the crop to European countries as they cannot single-handedly meet the capacity required to fill a container of produce.
Farming this crop can be a lucrative venture if only one follows the right farming procedures to avoid their produce from being rejected and thus incurring losses.
Growth conditions of French beans
The first thing you should consider before planting is the soil conditions necessary for this crop to grow well.
They do well in soils with a pH level of between 6.0-8.0.If the soil is not within this range,you should consult your agricultural extension officer for advice on how to increase the acidity levels and decrease those alkaline levels .
The soil should have good drainage and be well-drained with a loamy texture.
They are light-sensitive plants, meaning they depend heavily on sunlight to grow.
Therefore, it is essential that they be planted in a place with good exposure to the sun.
You need at least six hours of direct sunshine each day for them to get enough light and start growing optimally.
They grow well in temperature of around 21 degrees Celsius.
If the temperature falls below this range,the plants will start showing poor growth and may eventually die off.
They need adequate levels of water for the plants to grow optimally.
Water should be applied at least twice a week on average, but not too close to harvest time as this can cause rot and other diseases in beans .
How to plant French beans in Kenya
- Spray the land with a weed herbicide to control grass weeds.
- Flatten the land with a fine plough and make furrows and ridges where you will plant the seeds.
- Mix the soil with DAP at a rate of 80 kg per acre along the planting rows.
- Drop two seeds in each holes with a spacing 60 cm * 20 cm and cover the seeds with loose soil.
- Once the crop produces 3 leaves and when it starts to flower , top dress by applying CAN at the ratio of 50 kg per acre.CAN fixes nitrogen in the soil which helps to make food for the plant.
- Perform weeding to avoid the crop from competing for nutrients with the weeds. Don’t weed when the crop is flowering as this will result to shedding of flowers.
- Support the pants with trellis or poles to avoid the leaves from touching the ground as they might contract diseases hence leading to flower abortion.
French beans are prone to diseases such as rust,bacterial blights,mildew and angular leaf spots.To keep diseases at bay, use the recommended herbicides, perform crop rotation, plant health certified seeds and varieties that are disease tolerant.
Harvesting French beans
French beans take a period of six to eight weeks to mature.For your produce to be accepted for export, ensure the pods are picked with the stalk attached to them.