Grapes Farming: How to Produce the Best Grapes in Kenya

Grapes are among the most produced fruits in the world besides it being an ornamental plant. Grape farming in Kenya is a source of employment and wealth to a few farmers who have seen the wide gap in the market. A good number of countries in the world do not produce grapes; they depend on importing the fruits therefore its production is economical and sustainable.

Grapes farming in Kenya
Grapes growing in Kenya

Grapes grow on woody perennial vines that can live for over 500 years. The grapes are of different varieties that include; Muscatine grapes, French grapes, and American grapes. The most widespread type is the French grapes that are of European origin.

Grapes farming in Kenya has existed for over 20 years. Grapes do well in a cool climate with warm days and cool nights supplemented with sufficient irrigation. The topography should be slightly sloppy to avoid water logging and the destruction of roots. The growing conditions vary at times due to the variety you choose to plant. However, most types can thrive well in humid areas at an altitude of less than 1000 above sea level.

Tips to produce the best grapes in Kenya

1. Propagation

Vegetative propagation is the best choice for reproducing grapes. The seed propagation does not portray the mother plant's actual characteristics, and it is also time-consuming since you will need to wait for over three years to obtain seeds for propagation. Therefore you must go for the vegetatively propagated grapes. You can get these from Richfarm Kenya, 0724698357. This type of propagation will enable you to have a productive grape plant within a short duration and with the same characteristics as the mother plant.

2. Choice of Location

The climatic condition within your locality will determine the variety you need to go for. Keep in mind that the different types bear fruits of various sizes, colors, textures, and flavors. Some of the varieties are suited for wines, juices, and jellies, whereas others are sweet and are best for the table.

3. Sunlight requirement

Grapes thrive and produce well under full sunlight. Since Kenya is placed in the equatorial region, grape farming in Kenya is a success due to sufficient year-round sunlight in most parts of the country. However, it would help establish your vineyard where the plants can receive ample sunlight, majorly in the morning hours.

4. Air circulation

Good airflow is recommended in your vineyard as this helps in preventing fungus infestation. Therefore you should locate your vineyard in an open place away from buildings, trees, and bush that can act as an obstacle for air circulation into your vineyard.

5. Pruning

This is where the secret for the best grapes production lies. Remember that the best quality fruits are reproduced from correctly pruned grapes, whereas poor quality fruits are from light pruning. Even though it is the most demanding task in vineyards, you need to prune up to 90% of the last season's wood to have new ones. This is because grapes usually produce fruits from the current seasons' growth and not the previous ones.

You can watch a video we made on YouTube to guide you on how to do pruning. Click here to watch. 

To improve on the size of the fruits without necessarily compromising the quality, you need to do away with all the third bunches when they begin to form. It allows all the energy to be directed towards the development of the fruit and thus bigger grapes.

6. Mulching

It would be best if you mulch around the vines. It helps in retaining moisture and also in suppressing the weeds around the vines.

7. Soils

Volcanic, well-drained, and aerated soils are suitable for grapes production. Fertilization in the first year of production is not essential if you have healthy soil, not unless you have soil problems. Majorly fertilizer is applied in the second year of production but lightly.

8. Harvesting

At times grapes can take longer to ripen. In this case, you will need to pinch back some foliage to allow penetration of sufficient sunlight. Remember not to pick unripe grapefruits since they do not continue ripening after picking. Grapes take three years after establishment to full maturity. However, in our warm and sunny climate in Kenya, you can grow grape vines and start harvesting in one and a half years.

The maturity index of grapes is when it is juicy, rich in color, fully flavored, plump and easy to crush. At the time of harvest, the fruits should still be tightly attached to the stems.

9. Protection from Birds

Be ready to erect mesh nets to prevent the birds. Birds are capable of feeding on budding fruits and entirely destroying your crop.

Grape farming in Kenya has been majorly done in places like Naivasha, Kibwezi, Mombasa, and Mandera. So far, they have done well due to the moderate rainfall and ecological setup. Pest and diseases are not a significant issue in grapes, as this depends on the variety you choose to cultivate.

Growing grapes is not even as challenging as it is to grow some fruit trees in Kenya. You can start by getting a few seedlings from Richfarm Kenya. You can always call them on 0724698357 whenever you need more information on grapes farming. 

Grapes seedlings for sale at Richfarm kenya
Grapes seedlings for sale at Richfarm Kenya