Kenya Fresh produce Exporters Limited decision on growing and exporting tamarillos did not only benefit us but also our consumer .it is a healthy fruit and it marketable in the world. Tamarillo also known as the tree tomato is a small tree or shrub in the flowering plant family Solanaceae. It is best known as the species that bears the tamarillo, an egg-shaped edible fruit. Every plant has it conditions of planting if the process if followed we are assured of quality products.

Soil and climate necessities.

The tamarillo prefers subtropical climate, with rainfall between 600 and 4000 millimeters and annual temperatures between 15 and 20 °C. It is intolerant to frost (below -2 °C) and drought stress. Tamarillo plants grow best in light, deep, fertile soils and soils must be permeable since the plants are not tolerant to water-logging. They grow naturally on soils with a pH of 5 to 8.5.

Growing

Seedlings first develop a straight, about 1.5 to 1.8 meters tall trunk, before they branch out. Propagation by seeds is easy and ideal in protected environments. Seedlings should be kept in the nursery until they reach a height of 1 to 1.5 meters, as they are very frost-sensitive.

Cuttings should be made from basal and aerial shoots, and should be free of pathogenic viruses.

The tree grows very quickly and is able to bear fruit after 1.5 to 2 years. A single tree can produce more than 20 kg of fruit per year.

Plant management

Planting distances depend on the growing system. There is single row planting distances of 1 to 1.5 meters between plants and 4.5 to 5 meters between rows are recommended. In traditional growing regions plantations are much denser, with 1.2 to 1.5 meters between plants. Pruning

Pruning 

When the tree is about 1 to 1.5 metres in height, it is advisable to cut the roots on one side and lean the tree to the other (in the direction of the midday sun at about 30 to 45 degrees). This allows fruiting branches to grow all along the trunk rather than just at the top.

Mulching

Mulching can help to preserve moisture in the soil.] It can also be a strategy to suppress weeds, as other soil management techniques, such as plowing, are not possible due to the shallow and sensitive root system.

Shelter

The plants have to be protected from wind. Their shallow root system does not provide enough stability, and the lateral branches are fragile and break easily when carrying fruits.

Irrigation and fertilization

Recommended fertilizer rates per hectare are 170 kg of Nitrogen, 45 kg of Phosphorus and 130 to 190 kg of Potassium, Phosphorus and Potassium are applied in the beginning of the season, Nitrogen applications are distributed throughout the year

Harvest

Ripening of fruits is not simultaneous. Several harvests are necessary. In climates with little annual variation, tamarillo trees can flower and set fruit throughout the year. In climates with pronounced seasons, fruits ripen in autumn. Premature harvest and ethylene induced ripening in controlled-atmosphere chambers is possible with minimal loss of fruit quality. The fragile lateral branches can break easily when loaded with fruits, so premature harvest helps to reduce this risk and allows storage of fruits up to 20 days at room temperature.

With this Kenya Fresh Produce Exporters Limited are busy on the farm because tamarillos are the freshness you can bank on.

 By Getrude Nzau (gmulux@gmail.com)

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