Red creole onion farming in Kenya


Kenya is one of the fastest growing economies in Africa. The country has a diverse range of agricultural products that are exported to other countries, which means that there are opportunities for entrepreneurs who want to start their own farming business.

One type of farming you might consider starting is red creole onion farming.

Most red creole in Kenya originate from the neighboring country Tanzania.But farmers in Kenya are now starting to produce more and more of it.

In this article will discuss how you can get started with this particular type of farming so that you have all the information necessary before investing your time or money into it.

What Are Red Creoles?

Red Creoles originate from Louisiana but were first grown in Kenya by an American missionary back in 1918. They have become popular across East Africa because they tolerate extreme heat and drought, which means they are more resilient to climate change.

Red Creole onions have a distinctive deep red color that is partly caused by the soil in which they grow. Because of this,their flavor is sweeter than most other types of onion.

Red creole farming conditions in Kenya

Below are the appropriate growing conditions for this type of onion;

Climate

This type of onion can grow in tropical and sub-tropical climates, which means it is perfect for Kenya.The climate should be warm but not too humid for these onions to blossom into maturity.

The ideal time to plant them is between September and November as this is when we have the short rains.

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Harvesting is done in January when it is dry and when prices are high.

Soil

Red Creoles thrive on sandy soil that does not have a lot of clay content.

The soil needs to be well drained so that the water doesn’t pool around the roots .

The soil PH should be between 5.5 and 6.5,

Temperature

The ideal temperature range for these onions is between 18 and 33 degrees Celsius.

Temperature below this can cause the plants to die or flower prematurely because of frost.

If they are planted outside, mulch should be used in order to keep moisture levels constant.

Height

These onions grow well when left untouched but also thrive with guidance.They grow vertically and upwards and do not need to be staked or tied down.

The average height when left untouched is between 30-40 inches in height, but this can be increased by guiding the outer rows of leaves to point downward while letting the innermost row shoot upward.

Sun

They like to grow in warm and sunny climates so they are best grown near open ground that faces south or west.

They need plenty of sun so that they can grow their long, thin necks.

Weed control

Red Creoles need weed free soil because weeds compete with them for nutrients and water .

Their shallow roots make it difficult to remove weeds manually,so a weed free environment is important.

Crop rotation

Red Creoles can be grown in crop rotation with other vegetables such as beans or cabbage since they use different nutrients and soil types .

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How to plant red creole onions in Kenya

  1. Establish nursery beds of 1 M wide and a length that is commensurate to the number of seeds you are sowing.
  2. Mix the soils with manure and DAP at a rate of half a kilogram per square meter.
  3. Make furrows of 15 cm apart and 2 cm deep.
  4. Sow the seeds and cover lightly with soil.
  5. Apply mulching to conserve soil moisture.
  6. Reduce the shade 4-5 weeks after planting to harden the seedling.
  7. Transplant seedlings after 6-8 weeks of planting or when the seedlings have 3-5 leaves.
  8. Plant the red creole onion seedlings with a spacing of 30 cm by 10 cm.
  9. Plough and prepare the land you want to cultivate the onions and remove the weeds.
  10. Mix the soil with well decomposed manure.
  11. When planting, apply 100 kg of NPK to ensure that plants grow with essential plant nutrients.
  12. Apply 60 kg of CAN ,1 month after transplanting.

Harvesting of Red creole onions in Kenya

The red creole onion matures after 3 months.They are ready for harvesting when the outer leaves are dry which is evident when they turn to a crisp brown color.

To avoid rotting of onions,harvest when there is little or no rain.While harvesting pull the bulb from the soil with your hands and hang them to dry.

Don’t spread wet onions on the floor as this can make them rot.Once dried, pack them in loose nets and store them in a well ventilated storage facility.

Onions have a long shelf life of up to six months.

With the right farming practices, you can harvest a quantity of 8,000 kilograms per acre of red creole onions.The average price of a 15 kg onion bag is Ksh 1,000. This translate to sales of Ksh 533,000 after 3 months.

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Conclusion

The red creole onion is a new and exciting crop for Kenya. It has the potential to solve many of its current agricultural problems, such as hunger and poverty, by providing an additional source of income that can be spent on food or other necessities.

In order to take full advantage of this opportunity we need more research into how best to grow it in our environment, what varieties are most successful locally, and what products could be made from it so that we can plant it in large scale and stop importing it from Tanzania.

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