One of the crops you can propagate profitably is butternuts. There is always a fairly good demand for butternuts in Zimbabwe. Over the years, it is a crop that more and more Zimbabweans have grown to love. There are several market or consumer segments e.g. individuals, retailers, and caterers, amongst others. Butternut production is also not that difficult to do. It is not as demanding as other crops can be. If you want to start a crop production venture, you can consider butternuts. Here are some tips for profitable butternut production:
The quality of the soil you will use matters immensely. The best soil type is loam soil. Ensure the soil is sufficiently rich in organic matter. If need be, you can incorporate organic manure to enrich it. This is much better than applying fertilizers. Fertilizers might not produce noticeable results, thus making the extra cost pointless. Apply fertilizers only when absolutely necessary.
The soil must be well-drained with a considerable ability to retain moisture. No wonder why loam soil is the best. The soil pH must range from 5.6 to 6.5; conduct soil tests to ascertain this. A sufficiently high soil temperature is necessary for germination. That is why you must plant butternuts when incidences of frost are long gone and highly unlikely.
The profitability of butternut production heavily depends on the variety you choose. There are many butternut varieties you can consider. One of the most recommended butternut varieties in Zimbabwe is Waltham Plus. This is a butternut variety that was developed locally in Zimbabwe. It is a product of Avanos Seeds. Thus it is readily available in most crop seed outlets in Zimbabwe.
Waltham Plus has superior attributes, such as significantly large fruit sizes. Even better is that the seed cavities are significantly small. This causes the Waltham Plus to bear fleshier butternut fruits. They are sweeter than your average butternuts too. You also get to enjoy high yields. Waltham Plus butternuts have a shelf life of over 3 months. Provided the storage space has good ventilation.
As is the case with any crop, spacing considerations are essential. If you pack the butternuts too close together, you will undoubtedly get small-sized butternut fruits. It also complicates pest and disease control dynamics. For starters, it might take time to notice pests or incidences of diseases. This is because the points at which they are can be obscured. Then the disease outbreaks or pest infestations can be more rapid. Mitigatory measures also become more challenging due to that rapidity. Plus, it will be harder to navigate your way through the butternut crops. The ideal spacing for butternut production should be 0.75 metres by 1.5 metres.
Effective Pest And Disease Control
Correct spacing is an essential foundation for pest and disease prevention. It does have bearings on the control aspect. When it comes to control, the best approach is integrated pest management. This is the application of common sense practices in pest management. This entails first identifying pests, hosts, and beneficial organisms. Then you institute ways to keep an eye on every pest in question. Figure out the action thresholds for every pest.
Aphids, red spider mites, and fruit flies are common pests to look out for in butternut production. You then systematically action and assess your control strategies. You essentially combine cultural, physical, biological, and chemical strategies. Integrated pest management is the cheapest way to handle pest and disease control. Some common diseases in butternut production are powdery mildew and downy mildew.
When it comes to water or moisture, you must strike a balance. Too much water can be detrimental because it can increase the risks of disease incidence. It can also lead to crop damage through rotting or cracking. Too much water can also deprive the butternuts of essential nutrients through nutrient leaching. At the same, you must ensure the butternuts get sufficient water or moisture. Flowering and fruit development need that. An average of 25 to 40 millimetres water every week during the growth phase is ideal. Doing butternut production under irrigation is the best approach. That way, you can have control over moisture levels.
When harvesting, keep part of the stem attached to the butternut fruit. This ensures there are no vulnerabilities that can lead to fruit decay. Effective marketing is paramount in butternut farming. You need to study market dynamics closely. Ideally, you want your butternuts to mature when there is high demand and low supply. That way, you will fetch reasonable market prices. You must also conduct market research to know where inexhaustible markets are. It is also essential to get several bulk-buying and repeat customers. You can even enter working supplier agreements with them. With all these tips in mind, you can profit from butternut production.