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Turnip Farming In Kenya: A Comprehensive Guide

turnip farm

Turnips are a root vegetable that are easy to grow and thrive in many different climates. Turnip farming in Kenya can be done in diffrent of regions and are a great addition to any home garden. With the right preparation and care, anyone can successfully grow turnips in Kenya.

One of the key factors to consider when growing turnips in Kenya is the timing of planting. Turnips grow best in cooler temperatures, so it is important to plant them during the right season. In Kenya, the best time to plant turnips is during the cooler months of the year, typically from June to August or from December to February. By planting during these months, you can ensure that your turnips have the best chance of growing successfully.

Another important factor to consider when growing turnips in Kenya is the soil quality. Turnips prefer well-draining soil that is rich in organic matter. Before planting, it is important to prepare the soil by adding compost or other organic matter to improve its quality. Additionally, turnips require regular watering to ensure that the soil stays moist and to promote healthy growth.

Climate and Soil Requirements

Turnips grow best in cool and moist climatic conditions. The optimum temperature range for turnip cultivation is 10-16 degrees Celsius. The plant requires around 6-8 hours of direct exposure to sunlight for optimum growth.

The soil requirements for turnips are loose and fertile with good drainage. Turnips are brassicas and root vegetables, so they need soil that has been loosened and amended at least 6-8 inches deep. Adding a layer of compost or well-rotted manure to the earth two weeks prior to planting can help improve soil fertility.

Turnips can be grown in a wide range of soils, but it is important to avoid waterlogged or soggy soil. Consistent moisture is necessary for good growth of turnips, so watering regularly is recommended. Mulching with a layer of chopped straw or onions can help retain moisture.

Preparing the Soil

Before planting turnips in Kenya, it is important to prepare the soil properly to ensure healthy growth and a bountiful harvest. Here are some steps to follow:

  • Choose a sunny location: Turnips require full sun to grow well. Select a spot that receives at least six hours of direct sunlight daily.
  • Loosen the soil: Use a garden fork or tiller to loosen the soil to a depth of 12 to 15 inches. This will help the roots grow more deeply and allow for better water and nutrient absorption.
  • Add organic matter: Turnips thrive in soil that is rich in organic matter. Mix in a 2- to 4-inch layer of compost or well-rotted manure to improve soil fertility and structure.
  • Test the soil pH: Turnips prefer a slightly acidic soil with a pH between 5.5 and 6.8. Use a soil test kit to determine the pH of your soil and make adjustments as needed.
  • Improve drainage: Turnips do not like wet feet, so it is important to improve drainage in the soil. Adding sand or grit to the soil can help improve drainage.

By following these steps, you can prepare the soil to provide the optimal growing conditions for your turnips in Kenya.

Seed Selection and Planting

When it comes to growing turnips in Kenya, selecting the right seeds is crucial for a successful harvest. It is recommended to choose varieties that are well-suited to the local climate and soil conditions. Some popular turnip varieties that grow well in Kenya include the Purple Top White Globe, Tokyo Cross, and Golden Globe.

Before planting, it is important to prepare the soil properly. Turnips prefer well-draining soil that is rich in organic matter. It is recommended to add compost or manure to the soil before planting to improve its fertility. Turnips also prefer a slightly acidic soil pH between 6.0 and 7.0.

turnips plant
turnips plant

Turnips do well with direct planting when the soil is workable. For a late spring harvest, sow turnip seeds about 2 to 3 weeks before the average last frost date. In Kenya, this is typically in late February or early March. Alternatively, turnips can be planted in the fall for a late fall or early winter harvest.

When planting turnip seeds, it is important to space them properly to allow for proper growth. Sow the seeds about 1/2 inch deep and 1 to 2 inches apart. Once the seeds have germinated, thin the plants to about 4 to 6 inches apart to allow for proper root development.

Watering and Fertilization

Proper watering and fertilization are crucial to the growth and development of turnips in Kenya. Here are some tips to ensure your turnips receive the necessary nutrients and water:


Turnips require consistent moisture to grow well. They need at least 1 inch (2.5 cm) of water per week. In Kenya, where temperatures can be high, it is important to keep the soil moist to prevent the turnips from becoming woody or bitter. Here are some tips for watering turnips:

  • Water deeply once a week rather than shallowly more often.
  • Water in the morning to prevent evaporation and fungal growth.
  • Avoid getting water on the leaves to prevent disease.
  • Use mulch to help retain moisture in the soil.


Turnips need a well-balanced fertilizer to grow properly. In Kenya, it is important to use fertilizers that are appropriate for the local soil conditions. Here are some tips for fertilizing turnips:

  • Before planting, work compost or well-rotted manure into the soil to increase fertility.
  • Apply a balanced fertilizer, such as 10-10-10, at a rate of 2 to 4 cups per 100 square feet (9.3 square meters) of garden bed.
  • Apply fertilizer when the plants are about 4 to 6 inches (10 to 15 cm) tall.
  • Water the plants after fertilizing to help distribute the nutrients.

By following these watering and fertilization tips, you can help ensure that your turnips grow well and produce a bountiful harvest in Kenya.

Pest and Disease Control

Turnips are typically hardy and resistant to pests and diseases, but they can still fall victim to a few common issues. Here are some tips to help you prevent and control these problems:


Clubroot: This fungal disease can cause stunted growth, yellowing leaves, and distorted roots. To prevent clubroot, avoid planting turnips in soil that has previously grown cruciferous crops. If your plants do become infected, remove and destroy them to prevent the spores from spreading.

Black rot: This bacterial disease can cause blackening and rotting of the stem and leaves. To prevent black rot, plant disease-free seeds and keep the soil well-drained. If your plants do become infected, remove and destroy them to prevent the bacteria from spreading.


Flea beetles: These tiny insects can cause small holes in the leaves and stunt the growth of young plants. To prevent flea beetles, cover your plants with row covers or use insecticidal soaps. You can also plant turnips later in the season, after the flea beetle population has died down.

Cabbage root maggots: These pests can cause wilting and yellowing of the leaves, as well as damage to the roots. To prevent cabbage root maggots, avoid planting turnips in soil that has previously grown cruciferous crops. You can also use row covers to protect your plants.

Aphids: These small insects can cause yellowing and wilting of the leaves, as well as the spread of viruses. To prevent aphids, use insecticidal soaps or spray your plants with a strong stream of water. You can also plant companion plants, such as marigolds or nasturtiums, which can help repel aphids.

Harvesting and Storage

When turnips are ready to harvest, the leaves will start to yellow and wither. This is an indication that the turnips are ready to be harvested. You can also gauge the size of the turnips by gently digging around the base of the plant to see if they have reached the desired size.

When harvesting turnips, it is important to do so carefully to avoid damaging the roots. Use a garden fork or spade to gently loosen the soil around the turnip before pulling it out by hand. Be sure to remove any excess soil from the roots before storing.

Turnips can be stored for several months if kept in a cool, dry place. Ideal storage temperatures are between 32-40°F (0-4°C) with a relative humidity of 95%. Wrap the turnips in a moist cloth or paper towel and place them in a perforated plastic bag in the vegetable crisper drawer of your refrigerator. Alternatively, you can store turnips in a root cellar or other cool, dark place.

If you are also harvesting turnip greens, be sure to store them separately from the roots. Wrap the leaves in a damp paper towel and store them in a zip-top bag in the refrigerator. They will keep for 3-5 days this way.

Also Read: Okra Farming In Kenya

Sources: Spence, N. J., et al. “Economic impact of Turnip mosaic virus, Cauliflower mosaic virus and Beet mosaic virus in three Kenyan vegetables.” Plant pathology 56.2 (2007): 317-323. Link: https://bsppjournals.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1111/j.1365-3059.2006.01498.x

Jones, William O. “Turnips, The Seventh Day Adventist Principle, and Management Bias.” Food Research Institute Studies 16.1387-2016-116077 (1978): 141-157. Link: https://ageconsearch.umn.edu/record/135559/files/fris-1978-16-03-116.pdf

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John Kamau is a highly experienced agriculture expert based in Kenya. He holds a degree in Agriculture from the University of Nairobi and has over 15 years of experience in the field. Throughout his career, John has been committed to promoting sustainable agriculture practices in Kenya. He has worked with small-scale farmers in rural communities to improve their crop yields, implement irrigation systems, and adopt environmentally friendly farming practices. John is also an expert in the use of technology in agriculture. He has worked with organizations to develop mobile applications that help farmers access information about weather patterns, market prices, and best practices for crop management. In addition to his work in Kenya, John has also been involved in agricultural projects in other African countries, including Tanzania and Uganda. He has served as a consultant for the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization and has been recognized for his work with numerous awards.


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