Red creole farming in Kenya

Once upon a time, the bug for growing onions hit me hard.

I couln’t think of growing any other crop other than onion.

In my mind, I wanted to grow a crop that was:

    • Highly profitable,
    • Easy to sell,
    • Won’t rot in a few days,
    • Easy to manage and maintain.

Upon consideration of the above needs, onion farming seemed perfect.

But I had a problem.

“Which onion variety do I grow out of the hundreds available?”

“What onion variety will gurantee me maximum returns–without exposing me to excess risk?”

After much research, I settled on growing the Red creole onion variety.

My decision to grow red creole is a little crazy to experienced onion farmers.

However, to me it made perfect sense.

Here’s why.

  • The seeds of red creole variety were quite cheap.

I can’t remember exactly how much they cost me, but what I do remember they were the cheapest of all onion varieties in Kenya.

  • It was my first time to grow red creole onion.

This being so, I wanted to grow a variety that exposed me to as little risk as possible…

in terms of seed purchase costs.

So this post is about how I succeeded farming red creole in Kenya despite me being a beginner.

In it I explain in details How I

    • Prepared the Land,
    • My total Expenditure,
    • Yield of red creole onions in bags,
    • The price I got for each kilo of onion sold,
    • Basically, all the info you need for red creole farming in Kenya.

It is my hope that the experience I share here will inspire you to begin your onion growing journey…

even if you’ve never done it before.


Continue reading.

A little info about The red creole onion Variety That makes Growers Love It:

This is perhaps among the most famous onion varieties in the world along with Bombay red, Red peony and Texas Grano.


  • It is an open pollinated onion variety that people have grown for a long time. So no particular breeder company can lay claim to it.
  • Has a yield potential of 16 tons per acre under good management,
  • Matures in 150 days from transplanting,
  • It grows very well in various climatic conditions.

The fact that this is an open pollinated variety makes its seeds very cheap.

Preparing the land for growing Red Creole Onions.

I did not do anything magical for this step.

All I did was plough my 1-acre piece of land 1 week after the seeds had germinated.

10 days later, I harrowed it to make it ready for transplanting.

I had to adopt this timing strategy because onion seedlings are slow growing.

Their growth is not as fast as tomato seedlings.

So I had the luxury of taking my sweet time preparing my land.

In my case the seedlings stayed in the nursery for 1½ months before they were of good transplanting size.

Transplanting the onion seedlings.

I found this to be the most tedious part of onion farming.


It is labor intensive.

Very few workers have the stamina to do this back breaking job.

Since I wanted the onions to have a uniform growth, I had to hire a lot of laborers.

Keep reading to learn the trick I used to dramatically reduce my transplanting costs and to speed the transplanting process.

The next stage of my onion production experience was even more interesting.

Weeding the Red Creole Onion. I wish I Knew this Trick.

At the time I was doing this project, I wasn’t aware of the herbicides that I could use on onion.

I guess I was in too much of a hurry to realize that herbicides would have saved me lots of time.

Anyway, I hired some casual laborers to do the hand weeding using hoes.

For this step, it cost me Ksh 7,200 to do the 1 acre.

My friends tell me I spent a lot for this activity, but I did not mind about it.

I wanted them to work carefully without rushing so as to prevent injuries to the seedlings.

Applying Fertilizer to The Red Creole Onions.

On the 1 acre of onions, I used the following basal fertilizers in the following amounts.

  • 1 bag of DAP
  • 2 bags of CAN
  • 2 bags of NPK (20:20:20)

All these bags were 50 kilo bags.

So I applied a total weight of 250 kilos of fertilizer on the 1 acre.

If you’d like to calculate the amount of weight for each nutrient I applied on the farm, watch the video below:

As the growing season progressed, I sprayed some foliar feeds containing micro nutrients in 2-3 week intervals.

I will break down the cost of fertilizer I used towards the tail end of this post.

Continue reading.

Disease and Pest control in Onions

I was lucky that I did not encounter serious pests or disease infestations.

Nevertheless, I did spray some pesticides to control onion thrips, and some fungicides to control onion rust.

This pest and disease protection measures cost me Ksh 7,000.

Harvesting the onion bulbs.

120 days after first planting date, the onions were ready for harvesting.

To do this, I had to part with Ksh 9,000/=

Curing the Onions for storage and Marketing.

This is another important stage of onion production.

Without proper curing, onions become highly perishable commodities.

However, with proper curing, the bulbs can stay fresh for as long as 6 months.

To protect my investment, I had to cure the onions for at least 2 weeks.

If you are new to this, curing involves the drying of the onions in the sun.

The purpose of this stage is to remove excess moisture from the outermost layer of the onion.

This thin layer is responsible for protecting the inner flesh from physical scratches or rot caused by microorganisms.

After the curing process was done, I weighed my produce.

From the weighing, I noted that I got a harvest of 8,216 Kilos.

Two weeks later, I found a someone who was willing to buy the bulbs at Ksh 27 per kilo.

Did I get Profit from Growing Red Creole? You may ask.

To answer this question, let us get to the math.

That’s is where the rubber meets the road.

To do this, I will need to outline my costs per Item, then deduct the total costs from total sales.

I have done that in the table below.

Expenses incurred in Onion Farming
ItemNo NeededUnit costTotal cost
Onion Seed1 kilo7,5007,500
Labor (transplanting)243007,200
Foliar Feeds58004,000
Harvesting labor303009,000
Management Expenses18,00018,000
Total Expenses89,800

Yield per acre of Red Creole Onion:

This variety has a yield potential of 16 tons per acre.

However, in my case, I got a yield of 8,216 kilos.

This yield was slightly above 50% of the potential yield.

So did I make any profit in this venture?

Well, I happened to get a buyer who offered Ksh 27 per Kilo.

If you do the math, that’s is a gross sale of Ksh 221,832/=

When I minus the expenses, that’s a cool profit of Ksh 132,032/=

Earlier, I promised that I will tell you a secret of how I managed to complete the transplanting on time.

This is what I did.

I divided the land into portions of 15 M X 15 M.

Then, I told the laborers that I am not going pay them according to the number of portions each of them completed.

Those who will complete more portions will go home with more pay.

And those who will complete fewer portions will go home with less pay.

The ball was now in their court.

Each of them had an opportunity to set his/her wage for the day.

My friend, this trick worked like magic.

The people worked all trying to outcompete each other.

Whatever the outcome of this competition, I was the winner.

What are your thoughts on this?

Share them in the comments section below.

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