Monday, March 4, 2024
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Best Vanilla Farming Practices

by Jacquiline Nakandi
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By Wilson Asiimwe

Elisha Kajumba Matte, a farmer says vanilla can be intercropped with other crops such as banana, coffee and cocoa and it does well in a cool environment.

“Vanilla requires a top shade and this can be provided by trees which should be tall, fast-growing with straight lobes and a spreading canopy of small leaves which cast a light dappled shade,” Kajumba says.

He adds that before cultivating the vanilla, it is advisable for the farmer to first plant the trees which will support the vines.

Kajumba also says it is advisable to get vines from a mature plant and the spacing should be 6ft x 6ft.

How to control weeds

A farmer can use a hand hoe to dig around the garden so that the weeds do not grow, but ensure that the bases of the vanilla are not damaged.

He says mulching is also encouraged as one way of controlling the weeds.

“The mulch must be thick enough to control weeds and there is need for applying pesticides or any other artificial herbicides,” he says.

How to pollinate vanilla

Vanilla starts flowering in the third year of planting.

“Because vanilla has no suitable pollinating insects or birds, you will have to pollinate your vines by hand if you want to harvest any bean,” Kajumba says.

“You need to be fast and efficient since vanilla flowers last for only a day. Pollination can only be done in the morning. Therefore, during pollination, more workers are needed,” Kajumba says.

He says on a large vanilla plantation, a farmer may need to employ a skilled person for this job almost on full-time basis if they want excellent results.

“We use a pointed stick, transfer the pollen masses onto the surface of the stigma in each flower. You can pollinate 5-10 flowers per raceme according to the vigour of each vanilla vine,” Kajumba says.

He explains that after pollination, vanilla pods take about five to six months to form. If the pollination attempt was not successful, the plant will not yield any pods.

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