Pixie orange farming in Kenya is a highly profitable agribusiness taking root. The fruit is yellow-orange in color, seedless, easy to peel, tasty, and highly nutritious. Pixie oranges are gaining popularity in arid and semi-arid areas such as Makueni, Machakos, Kitui, and parts of coastal regions such as Voi. The crop can also perform well in areas such as Nyeri, Murang’a, and parts of Western Kenya. The demand for the fruit is relatively high while the supply is still low, making it a lucrative venture for farmers.
Pixie orange trees grow fast and their branches spread wide. For this reason, it is best to plant the trees with a spacing of 4x5m. 4m should be the space from one tree to the next while 5m is the spacing between lines. The lines should run in an East-West direction. Pixie orchards should be weed-free, and the trees should be pruned regularly to ensure that they grow in a healthy manner. A well-tended tree will give 60 kilos of fruits in a year, and an acre can accommodate 270 such trees, giving a turnover of up to Ksh1.2 million per year as reported by farmers in Makueni.
Two years ago, Makueni farmers earned Sh595 million from pixies, the highest amount in all the 10 counties that grow the fruit, according to data obtained from the Ministry of Agriculture. This highlights the immense potential of pixie orange farming in Kenya. With proper management practices and access to markets, farmers can reap significant profits from this agribusiness. In this article, we will explore the various aspects of pixie orange farming, including planting, cultural practices, pest and disease management, harvesting, and marketing.
Climate and Soil Requirements
Pixie oranges are a highly profitable agribusiness taking root in Kenya. For optimum performance, they should be grown in deep, fertile, and well-drained soils with a pH range of 6.5-7.3. They thrive in a wide range of soils although they perform best in sandy loamy soils. The fruit thrives between the sea level and an altitude of about 2100m.
The best climate for pixie farming in Kenya is warm or hot with temperatures between 10℃ and 30℃. The rainfall should be at least 1,000 mm annually although this can be supplemented through irrigation to achieve optimum yields. Pixie oranges also survive in areas with low and moderate rainfall, that is why they perform well in arid and semi-arid areas. Ideal temperatures for pixie farming range from 10c-30c. Enough sunlight especially during flowering and fruit ripening is necessary.
It is important to note that the ecological conditions for growing pixie oranges include an altitude of 2100m above sea level, at least 6-8 hours of sunlight on a daily basis, and a temperature of about 10°c to 30°c. The soil should be well-drained with a pH of 6.5-7.3 and perform best in sandy loamy soils. Low and moderate rainfall is also ideal for the growth of pixie oranges.
Overall, it is crucial to ensure that the climate and soil requirements are met for successful pixie orange farming in Kenya.
Planting Pixie Orange Trees
Pixie orange trees are relatively easy to plant and maintain. Here are some factors to consider when planting:
- Spacing: Pixie orange trees grow fast and their branches spread wide. It is best to plant the trees with a spacing of 4x5m. 4m should be the space from one tree to the next while 5m is the spacing between lines. The lines should run in an East-West direction.
- Soil: Pixie orange trees grow best in well-drained soil with a pH of 6.5-7.3. They perform best in sandy loamy soils.
- Altitude: Pixie orange trees grow best at an altitude of 2100m above sea level.
- Climate: The best climate for pixie farming in Kenya is warm or hot with temperatures between 10℃ and 30℃. The rainfall should be at least 1,000 mm annually although this can be supplemented through irrigation to achieve optimum yields.
When planting pixie orange trees, it is important to dig holes that are at least 2ft by 2ft by 2ft. Mix about 20kg of manure with topsoil and put it in each of the holes. The seedlings should be placed in the holes and covered with soil. Water the newly planted trees thoroughly to help them establish their roots.
It is important to note that profitability of the trees starts at around 5 years, and each plant can produce more than 300 fruits. Therefore, it is important to plant the trees in the right conditions and maintain them properly to ensure maximum yields.
Irrigation and Fertilization
Pixie orange farming in Kenya requires proper irrigation and fertilization to achieve high yields of quality fruit. The crop requires regular watering, especially during the dry seasons, to ensure that the trees do not dry up. The amount of water required depends on the age of the trees, soil type, and weather conditions. Generally, mature trees require about 40-50 liters of water per tree per week.
The best way to irrigate pixie orange trees is through drip irrigation. This method delivers water directly to the roots, reducing water wastage and minimizing the risk of fungal infections. Farmers can also use sprinkler irrigation, but this method is less efficient and can lead to waterlogging and soil erosion.
In addition to irrigation, fertilization is crucial for the growth and development of pixie orange trees. The crop requires a balanced fertilizer that contains nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium. Farmers can use organic or inorganic fertilizers, depending on their preference and availability. Organic fertilizers, such as animal manure and compost, are readily available and affordable. Inorganic fertilizers, such as NPK, are more expensive but provide quick and precise results.
It is essential to apply fertilizers at the right time and in the right amounts to avoid over-fertilization or under-fertilization. Farmers should conduct soil tests to determine the nutrient requirements of their crops and adjust their fertilization programs accordingly. It is also important to note that excessive use of fertilizers can lead to soil degradation and environmental pollution.
Pest and Disease Control
Pixie orange farming in Kenya is not without its challenges. Farmers need to be vigilant in controlling pests and diseases that can affect their crops. Here are some common pests and diseases that affect pixie oranges and how to prevent and control them:
1. Aphids: Aphids are small insects that suck sap from the leaves and stems of plants, causing them to wilt and deform. To control aphids, farmers can use insecticides or natural predators such as ladybugs and lacewings.
2. Thrips: Thrips are tiny insects that feed on the leaves and flowers of plants, causing them to turn brown and die. To control thrips, farmers can use insecticides or sticky traps.
3. Fruit flies: Fruit flies lay their eggs in the fruit, causing it to rot and become unsellable. To control fruit flies, farmers can use insecticides or set up traps using vinegar or other attractants.
Also Read: Citrus Pests Affecting Production In Kenya
1. Citrus greening: Citrus greening is a bacterial disease that causes the fruit to become small, misshapen, and bitter. To prevent citrus greening, farmers can use disease-free seedlings and practice good sanitation by removing infected trees and debris.
2. Anthracnose: Anthracnose is a fungal disease that causes brown spots and lesions on the leaves and fruit. To control anthracnose, farmers can use fungicides and practice good sanitation by removing infected leaves and fruit.
3. Root rot: Root rot is a fungal disease that attacks the roots of the plant, causing it to wilt and die. To prevent root rot, farmers can improve soil drainage and avoid overwatering the plants.
By being proactive in preventing and controlling pests and diseases, farmers can ensure a healthy and profitable harvest of pixie oranges.
Harvesting and Post-Harvest Handling
Pixie oranges are harvested when they are fully ripe and have a yellow-orange color. The fruit is picked by hand, and care must be taken not to damage the delicate skin. The harvesting period usually falls between July and November, depending on the location and climate. A mature tree can produce up to 100-150 fruits per year, and the yield can increase with proper care and maintenance.
After harvesting, the fruit must be sorted and graded based on their size, color, and quality. The fruit should be washed and dried before packing to remove any dirt or debris. The fruit should be packed in ventilated crates or boxes to prevent moisture buildup and damage to the fruit.
Proper post-harvest handling is crucial to ensure the fruit’s quality and shelf life. The fruit should be stored in a cool, dry place with good ventilation to prevent mold and decay. The ideal storage temperature is between 8-10°C, with a relative humidity of 85-90%. The fruit can last up to 3 weeks under these conditions.
It is essential to handle the fruit with care during transportation to prevent bruising and damage. The fruit should be transported in a cool, dry environment to maintain its quality. The fruit can be sold fresh or processed into juice, jam, or other value-added products for a higher profit margin.
Marketing Pixie Oranges
Pixie oranges are a highly nutritious and tasty fruit that is easy to peel and seedless. The demand for pixie oranges is high in Kenya, and the market for these fruits is wide. If you are planning to venture into pixie orange farming, it is essential to have a marketing plan in place to ensure that you sell your produce at the best prices and to the right customers.
One of the best ways to market your pixie oranges is by selling them to local markets and supermarkets. You can also supply them to juice processing companies, hotels, and restaurants. These businesses require large quantities of fruits, and they are willing to pay good prices for quality produce.
Another effective way to market your pixie oranges is by establishing a direct relationship with your customers. You can do this by setting up a roadside stand, participating in farmers’ markets, or creating an online presence. By establishing a direct relationship with your customers, you can build a loyal customer base and get feedback on your product quality and pricing.
When marketing your pixie oranges, it is essential to ensure that your fruits are of high quality and meet the required standards. You can achieve this by adhering to good agricultural practices, such as using quality seeds, fertilizers, and pesticides, and ensuring that your fruits are properly harvested, sorted, and packed.
In conclusion, marketing your pixie oranges is crucial to the success of your farming venture. By identifying the right market, establishing a direct relationship with your customers, and ensuring that your fruits meet the required standards, you can sell your produce at the best prices and build a profitable business.
Pixie orange farming in Kenya is a highly profitable agribusiness that has picked up pace faster than any other. The fruit is a cross between oranges and tangerines, and it bears fruits after about 2-3 years. The fruits are yellow-orange in color, seedless, easy to peel, tasty, and highly nutritious. The market for pixie fruits is wide, and the demand is relatively high while the supply is still low. This presents a great opportunity for farmers to tap into the market and make good returns on their investment.
Makueni is one of the top suppliers of citrus fruit in Kenya, and two years ago, Makueni farmers earned Sh595 million from pixies, the highest amount in all the 10 counties that grow the fruit. With an acre giving a turnover of up to Ksh1.2 million per year and an average price of Ksh80 per kilo at the farm gate, it is clear that pixie orange farming is a worthy investment for farmers in Kenya.
However, it is important to note that successful pixie orange farming requires proper management and care. Farmers should ensure that they plant the right variety of pixie oranges, use the right soil and fertilizer, and practice proper pest and disease control. They should also ensure that they have a reliable market for their produce and that they adhere to good agricultural practices.
Overall, pixie orange farming presents a juicy opportunity for fruit farmers in Kenya. With the right management and care, farmers can reap good returns on their investment and contribute to the growth of the agricultural sector in the country.
Also Read: Pixie Orange Farming Profitability In Kenya
Source: Munywoki, Justus Mulinge, and Gilbert Ndutu Munywoki. “IASR Journal of Agriculture and Life Sciences.” (2022). Link: https://iasrpublication.com/uploads/article/IJALS0102038-01-10.pdf
Munywoki, Justus Mulinge, and Gilbert Ndutu Munywoki. “IASR Journal of Agriculture and Life Sciences.” (2022). Links: https://iasrpublication.com/uploads/article/IJALS0102038-01-10.pdf