The yield per acre of Sukuma wiki is of great interest for all farmers considering it as a high potential crop.
That’s why I am writing this post.
In it, you’ll find all you need to know about kale yields, and what TO DO so that you grow kale for a profit.
Sit back, relax.
Prepare to dig deep into this comprehensive article on yield increasing strategies of Sukuma wiki/kale.
From the Desk of Haron Mogeni, Professional Horticultural Officer, and Horticulture copywriter.
I have grown Sukuma wiki from the year 2009 to 2019.
This year (2020) I decided to give it a break…
To try growing HASS avocado seedlings.
So far, things are working perfectly for me, nevertheless, I miss kale farming.
I miss the weekly 20,000/= to 30,000/= cash flow from my 1 acre of kale.
Though I loved growing kale, I had to stop doing it since I moved counties and had to do a lot of travel.
The regular drive and commute of (600-800 km/week) could not allow me to give my Sukuma wiki farm the attention it deserves.
Let’s get to what brought you here.
“How many kilos can I harvest from 1 acre of Sukuma Wiki?”
For the Well, in my 10-year experience of growing kale in Kenya…
“1 acre of Sukuma wiki can yield between 8000 – 24,000 kilos of leaf during a growth period of 9 months.”
Now suppose you…
sell a kilo of Sukuma-wiki at Kenya shillings 30/= at the farm gate, Sukuma wiki has a potential of earning you a GROSS INCOME of Kenya shillings 240,000/= to 720,000/=
The above yield projections sound Too Good to be True?
They are not.
Just ask Angote.
The daily Nation ran his story of how he earns thousands of shillings from Kale farming.
Here below is a screenshot of the story below. If you’d like to read it, follow this link.
I am so confident in the yields I have stated above because I’ve been able to achieve them while I was a farm manager at Kamiti prison farm.
During my 1-year stint there, I grew—with the help of others, Sukuma wiki valued in millions.
The farm was approximately 4 acres, but it was sufficient to provide Sukuma wiki every day for over 3000 inmates ENTIRE YEAR!
Believe it or not, the potential yield of Sukuma wiki per acre is far much higher than that of green maize, beans, cabbage, or sweet potato.
Ready to know how to get such insane yields from 1 acre of Sukuma wiki?
Continue reading below…
As you read, I am going to destroy TWO myths the academia has on Sukuma wiki growing in Kenya.
The myths are on the:
- Recommended spacing of Sukuma wiki
- The time it takes to grow kale
Step 1: The Kale Variety you grow plays a big role in the Yield per acre of Sukuma Wiki:
Here’s how to choose the right variety…
There are three popular varieties of Sukuma wiki/kale in Kenya.
- The “A thousand-headed Sukuma wiki variety”
- Collards Southern Georgia
- Collards Mfalme F1.
I have grown ALL the three varieties and can state without blinking, “Collards southern Georgia is the best variety for Kenya.
Before I explain why I endorse Collards southern Georgia, let me tell you my experience with the other two varieties.
Collards Mfalme F1
The beef I have with this variety is “The cost of the seed.”
About two years ago, I bought 10 grams of the seed for Ksh 150.
Considering that you will need, “1 kilo of seed for every acre every acre of Sukuma wiki.”
The cost of the seed is exorbitant!
If you were to grow this variety, you’ll spend a whopping Kenya shillings 15.000/= for a kilo of seed.
That’s not all. I got a bad impression of the variety because of its poor germination percentage.
If something is that expensive don’t you think it should be rather so good?
The germination percentage of the seed sucked so I never seriously thought of doing this variety on large scale.
The “A Thousand Headed Variety”
Popular opinion considers a thousand-headed Sukuma wiki as the highest yielding variety.
When grown in the highland areas, that have regular rainfall and cool weather, you can harvest tons and tons of kale leaves from this variety.
Nevertheless, this variety has a major handicap.
It struggles SO MUCH during the harsh weather (when there’s peak demand for kale.)
If it could be a little tougher, I would have recommended this variety.
Another problem, it takes a long time to respond to irrigation, and when it gets too hot.
That handicap is pretty awful since a Sukuma wiki farmer gets the most profit when it is hot and dry.
The other handicap has to do with the color of the leaves of this kale variety.
Its leaves are pale yellowish-green in color. This is a disadvantage since people associate yellowing with low quality.
The Collards Southern Georgia Sukuma Wiki/Kale Variety.
The collards southern variety yields slightly less yield per acre compared to the “A Thousand Headed Variety” and the Mfalme F1 variety.
However, when you consider a combination of other factors of Collards Southern Georgia Sukuma Wiki, it trumps all the other kale varieties.
For example, Collards Southern Georgia variety produces pleasant dark green leaves.
Its leaves are tough yet tender when cooked—which is an important quality when transporting it over long distances.
The kale variety is also resistant to hot weather and it’s an all zone performer, unlike the others.
Should you maintain your farm well, you can harvest cash from this variety for over 1 year!
From that experience of growing the Collards Southern Georgia variety, I strongly recommend it to any prospective or even experienced farmer.
Step 2: Use the correct spacing to maximize yield Sukuma wiki/Kale per acre.
This is where I have a problem with many academia.
They often recommend that you space Sukuma wiki at 60 cm X 60 cm.
The problem of adopting this spacing is that you get a plant population of 11,200 plants for 1 acre.
That plant population is too low to get high yields from Sukuma wiki.
Let me tell you why…
When you transplant Sukuma wiki at that spacing, as the growing season progresses, some plants die.
They may die due to pest attack, rotting, or injury as you do your farming operations.
When that happens you’ll end up having even wider spacing within the plants.
I know you are asking can I replant the spaces with new kale plants?
You could do it, but it’s not worth it.
The older plants tend to suppress the younger plants to the extent they won’t give any economic advantage.
On the other hand, if you adopt a spacing of 15 cm X 40 cm, you get a plant population of 59,000 plants.
The close spacing has several yields boosting advantages
- You get more plants per acre than the spacing of 60 cmX60 cm.
- Should any plants die during the growth period, you’ll still have an economical plant population left behind—you won’t have big spaces in-between plants.
- The close spacing helps the plants to form a thick canopy that suppresses weeds and prevents excessive evaporation thus increasing your yield threefold.
Step 3: Ensure that Organic matter in your Sukuma wiki farm is high to Increase Your Yield per acre of Sukuma wiki.
Sukuma wiki loves well drained soil, rich in organic matter.
Proper drainage is absolutely vital because excessive water leads to:
- Yellowing of leaves
- Development of phosphorus deficiencies
- Thriving of the black rot disease that can exterminate a Sukuma wiki farm in days!
Besides increasing your yield per acre of Sukuma wiki, soil rich in high organic matter well-rotted farmyard manure, compost, and other plants vegetative matter, will make your kale tender, sweet when cooked, and resistant to how weather.
You’ll see the outcome in the way people will be rushing to place orders.
Once they taste your kale, they will never want to go anywhere else.
Sukuma wiki responds well to fertilizers and foliar feeds thus increase yields significantly.
However, the extended use of such fertilizers is detrimental to your kale farm.
Continuous use of fertilizers will make your kale bitter and highly perishable—especially when used in the dry weather.
If possible, use organic matter such as manure and compost in kale production while supplementing them with inorganic fertilizers.
Never make inorganic fertilizers the foundation of your kale production especially in the dry season as that is the recipe for producing bitter kale.
Step 4: Don’t commit this abomination if you want your Sukuma wiki to Produce High yields consistently
During the dry season, kale is often is short supply.
What is available is usually bitter and tough when cooked.
For that reason, potential customers wander to and fro looking good sources of sweet kale—and they are ready to buy it at a higher price.
Farmers, therefore, are tempted to overharvest their kale farm in a bid to make an extra coin.
Never do that. Don’t do it even if you are offered money.
If you do it, your earnings will be short-lived.
You’ll over-stress the plants.
The plants are already overstressed due to the heat and drought. When you add overharvesting, the plant will be truly stressed to regenerate new growth faster.
The recommended harvest rate is 3-5 leaves per plant starting with the bigger bottom leaves.
If the plant exhibits luxurious growth, (during the rainy season) you can harvest more than 5 leaves.
When it’s too dry you may have to harvest 3 leaves per plant.
One last precaution about harvesting…
Never harvest the young tender leaves that are near the top.
Start with the mature lower leaves. If you harvest the young top leaves, you’ll be harvesting tomorrow’s harvest today while leaving today’s harvest to go to waste.
Step 5: Don’t harvest the same portion daily otherwise you’ll get poor yields of Sukuma wiki.
If possible, harvest the entire farm once, irrigate it and let it stay for a whole week before you harvest again.
The advantage of doing this is, “You allow the plants time to recover from the stress of harvest.”
If the farm needs weeding, pest control, and other activities, you can do that after the harvest.
Should you be unable to harvest the whole farm, divide it into 7 blocks.
Harvest each block each day of the week. Once you harvest a block, don’t harvest it again until one week is over.
Step 6: Irrigate your kale farm regularly. Sukuma wiki loves a Lot of water
To maximize your Sukuma wiki yields, ensure that you irrigate your farm regularly. Without regular irrigation, the vegetables will grow slowly and will be bitter.
The yields that I have mentioned at the beginning of this story will be a pipe dream.
The most preferable time to irrigate is in the evening.
Irrigating at this time is advantages as evaporation is lower, thus you save on water.
The best type of irrigation system for Kale is overhead irrigation.
Though it uses a lot of water, overhead irrigation creates a micro-climate for kale during the hot weather.
The good news about it is that Kale will respond in kind by growing luxuriously.
Related: Sukuma Wiki Diseases