Tangerine Farming: How To Grow The Best Tangerine For The Market In Kenya

Tangerine farming in Kenya is a business that has been thought of as a preserve for the farmers in Makueni, Embu and Meru. However, a lot of other farmers are taking it up in different places since they have discovered that it can grow in other parts of Kenya such as Mombasa, Kwale, Kilifi, Narok, Kisumu and Kajiado.

tangerine farming in Kenya
Tangerine farming in Makueni, Kenya

So, are you a tangerine farmer or an inspiring tangerine farmer rummaging through the internet trying to find a way to be the best? Wander no more! You are here! A tangerine (Citrus tangerina) in case you are wondering, is an orange-like fruit which is smaller, easier to peel, juicier and commonly known as ‘thandara’ in the locals. Now that you know, let the lesson begin!

Ecological Requirements

Tangerines have a higher adaptability to high and low temperatures compared to other citrus fruits making them manageable. They require well drained soils with a neutral pH. It is therefore wise to always have a soil test to check the fertility and pH levels of your soil.

Seedling Selection

How do you select the correct seedling? Some farmers will generate the seedlings themselves from selected fruits that they had purchased from the market. A wise farmer will however buy a certified seedling from a reputable nursery. This will help you to ensure you get consistent quality fruits. Normally, a tree will take 3-4 years to start bearing fruits if planted from the seeds. On the other side, quality grafted seedlings would mature faster and start giving you fruits in the second year. You can get such high quality seedlings from Richfarm Kenya – 0724698357.

tangerine farming
Tangerine farming in Kenya

Nutritional Requirements

By now, I’m assuming that you have done the soil test and you have your results ready. This will be your Nutritional guide on what fertilizer to use. However, roughly just to mention, 1 week before planting, you will be required to mix your soil with well dried manure in a ratio of 1:2 to ensure the nutrients are well leached in the soil. Manure also helps in water retention due to the organic matter. The tangerine tree requires the following nutrients in order to achieve the best fruits over the period. Please note that the rates of application will greatly be based on the soil test results.

      Phosphorous: Aids in root development in the early stages. It also helps the tree to mature at the right time while inducing flower and fruit development. One other beautiful thing about having the correct amount of phosphorous in your tree is its ability to offer the plant disease resistance. Lack of this nutrient showcases in form of purple lines on the leaf veins.

      Nitrogen: If you want your tangerine trees to have the nice lush and form a nice green canopy, this is something to look out for. Nitrogen aids in foliar establishment, chlorophyll formation and development of amino acids. Though might I just mention that generally, tangerines are known to have low levels of amino acids? Lack of this nutrient emerges as a yellow or very light green color on the top of the leaves.

      Potassium: Do you want your tangerines to be the juiciest, sweetest and have everyone coming back for more? Potassium is your answer. It is a nutrient that activates enzymes responsible for ripening of fruits and synthesis of protein and starch hence giving them that sweet taste. It is done applied both in the ground as a filed grade fertilizer and as a foliar fertilizer. This former should be sprayed weekly or fortnightly on the onset of flowers. Lack of this nutrient showcases with bitter, uneven ripening and dry fruits.

      Boron: As a tangerine farmer, you may experience your flowers and fruits aborting while still immature and this may take back your production. The problem is caused by deficiency of Boron. It is therefore wise to have a foliar fertilizer that contains this element and the good thing is that unlike other foliar fertilizers, this one in particular should only be sprayed utmost, twice in a cycle.

      Magnesium: Sometimes you may have noticed your tangerine tree leaves developing yellow patches on the midribs starting from the base, enlarging outwards, leaving the tip and the underside green. The condition may spread and turn the whole leaf yellow leading to defoliation. This is a sign of lack of magnesium. Magnesium is the key element of the chlorophyll molecule and therefore very important.

      Calcium: As you are doing your crop walk, you may notice some tangerines with a black spot under the fruit. This is a condition known as Blossom end Rot caused by lack of calcium. Calcium is required to ensure your fruit’s cell walls are correctly held together. This can be applied again as a field grade, in the soil, or as a foliar fertilizer. A good advantage is that most calcium based foliar fertilizers are combination of Calcium, Magnesium and Boron hence lowering your input cost.


Water is not a nutrient but it is directly related to the nutrients above. What if you have already put all the above fertilizers in the soil but you realize you have cases of Blossom End Rot, Fruit and flower abortion, cracking of fruits, bitter fruits or yellowing of leaves. This is a clear indication that your tangerine trees are not getting enough water to correctly transport the much needed nutrients. Therefore, you should have consistent watering to allow moisture to get an inch or two below the soil.

A water test done is also highly advisable. This is because the water may have high levels of sodium or magnesium which is another element that inhibits uptake of some of the important nutrients by the plant roots.  

Field Operations

Visit the successful tangerine farmers in Kenya and you will notice that their farms are well arranged in rows and all the trees are well spaced. This is because they understand that a crowded tangerine farm will always have a challenge of pests and diseases. With that in mind, kindly ensure that the trees have a good spacing of at least 4-5 m. This allows correct air circulation hence reducing humidity for growth of pests and emergence of diseases. It also provides enough spacing to do your spraying.

There are many synthetic products that can be used in tangerine farming in Kenya to help with management of common pests such as leaf miners, mealybugs and whiteflies. If you face challenges with such, kindly consult your agrovet or agronomist to advice you on the best product for the kind of problem you have. Organic farmers prefer to use insect traps.

Tangerine trees, like other citrus trees can develop dry wood naturally in the inner areas. As a result, selective pruning should be done to prevent twig dieback.

Read also: Why Pixie Orange Farming In Kenya Is Booming Now

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