Friday, 4 May 2012

Small Scale Snow peas growing

Snow peas growing is a relatively recent introduction in Kenya .The plants are growing in importance due to demand and value in the export market mainly in Europe.Snow peas do well in upper and lower highlands at altitudes between 1,500-2,600m above sea level, and temperatures of 12º-20ºC with well distributed rainfall of 1,500-2,100 per year and well drained soils rich in organic matter .Purple flowered varieties of snow peas plants include dwarf grey, Oregon sugar pod while varieties with white flowers are mommoth melting sugar [giant variety], sugar snap, Toledo.Propagation involves ploughing land to a depth of 30 cm followed by harrowing to a fine tilth. The seed is directly sown into the field at a depth of 2.5-3cm and a seed rate of 50-60 kg/ha. Recommended spacing for growing the crop is 7-10cm between plants and 75cmm between the rows. Watering after sowing should be done twice daily and germination takes 5-7 days. Up to 10 tons of farm yard manure should be applied. Applications of DAP fertilizer at a rate of 250kg per ha at sowing time and again after one month is recommended for root growth. At flowering stage the plants should be dressed with CAN at a rate of 200kg per ha. All fertilizer applied should be mixed well with soil. Avoid excess nitrogen which will promote vegetative growth at the expense of growth of pods. Hand weeding is recommended since the plants are shallow rooted and deep hoeing may injure the roots.

Snow peas require a large amount of water during growth and about 9,000mm of the water should be applied during the growing season. Alternatively irrigation should be done at a frequency which ensures a handful of soil does not crumble when squeezed but remains in a lump. Irrigation after topdressing of snow peas is recommended followed by a week without water to promote flowering. Watering after every picking is recommended to improve quality. Training snow peas plants 2-3weeks after sowing when the plants start tailing on the ground. Pinch the terminal bud to stimulate branching and production of more flowers. The snow peas plants are supported using twiggy branches or stakes. A trellis made of wooden stakes 1.5-2m long and 3-4cm diameter and wire [gauge 10] or diesel treated sisal twine tied between the stakes 60-70 cm above the ground can be used. 30cm of the stake should be buried at 2m and 2.5 m intervals along the rows for dwarf and giant varieties respectively. Another string should be tied to the base of the plants and then to the wire above it.  As the plants grow another wire or string is tied 10 cm above the previous one to ensure the plants grows through loops.Snow peas major diseases during growth include powdery mildews manifesting as white powder, leaf spots, downy mildews and rust. Control is through use of certified seeds, spraying plants with recommended fungicides, staking plants, destruction of crop debris by burning, crop rotation and use of resistant or tolerant varieties. Major pests of growing snow peas include thrips, aphids, bollworms, red spider mites’ bean fly and nematodes. Control is by using recommended insecticides.

Harvesting of snow peas starts 60-70 days after sowing and continues for 1-2 months. Young tender ponds are harvested before they become fibrous. Ponds are twisted from the plants leaving a short stalk. Snow peas are ordinarily picked thrice a week and five times a week during warm and hot weather to keep the vines bearing. Expected yield is 4-5 tons per hectare. Post harvest handling of snow peas includes placing the produce in plastic containers and covering with moist clean cloths preferably white in colour to maintain low temperatures. Sorting should be done to remove diseased, damaged ponds and foreign material before packing. Dirty ponds should be washed in clean water to remove soil and dried with a soft cloth. High standards of hygiene should be maintained during growth and handling. During packaging uniformly green snow peas of uniform size are packed in cartons allowing an overweight of 5% as the pods loose water during transportation. Transit time should be kept as short as possible and the desirable transport temperatures are 0-2ºC.