Parsley is a herb that is gaining fame in Kenyan agriculture though its production has been adopted by only few famers. Its market is mainly in Hindi hotels and export. There are few groups of horticultural practitioners who are in the export chain and sub-contracting farmers who are not able to access the export market. The crop is mainly used to flavor food, this article provides the crop management and grow guide.
- Rainfall – 950-100mm, does well under irrigation for controlled watering, the crop does not tolerate water logging.
- Soils – does well in loamy soils, fertile and well drained. pH range from 6.0 to 7.0 The crop has a deep root system hence it require deep soils although it thrives too in shallow soils as it has the capacity to develop extensive feeding roots.
- Sunshine– the crop requires full or partial exposure, 6-8hrs exposure will be ideal for the crop.
- Altitude-up to 2100m
- Temperature –200C-240C is ideal
The land should be ploughed deeply since the crop is deep rooted. All weeds and stumps should be removed, apparently land preparation done during the dry spell is recommended to give the stumble enough time to dry and rot, this will supplement organic matter in the soil owing that the crop require fertile soils with high organic matter content, this discourage most non beneficial micro organisms.
There are two, flat leaved and curly leaved parsley
The seeds are sown directly in the main field, due to the fact that the seeds take long to germinate-roughly three to four weeks it’s advisable to soak the seeds in slightly warm water for a night to break dormancy and initiate germination. Growing the herb hence calls for patience and determination from the farmer, if not then it would be better to purchase raised seedlings though very rare to get such.
The crop requires constant moisture throughout the growing period, irrigation will be ideal for production of good quality leaves. Drip systems will work best, water utility at maximum and the irrigation does not wet leaves hence minimize incidences of fungal infections.
The crop requires fertile soil, after land preparation apply well decomposed organic matter and mix thoroughly with the soil. Plant with DAP fertilizer to help in rapid root development and crop establishment. Apply a complete fertilizer on 35th to 40th day 23:23:23 or 18:18:18 to improve growth of the crop and leaf quality, CAN, ammonium sulphate, mono ammonium sulphate can too be used in top dressing the crop.
NB: Avoid excessive fertilizing as this alter the herb flavor
The field should be kept weed free to avoid space, moisture and nutrient competition between the crop and the weeds. Notably the crop requires constant moisture for good performance, so anything that can compromise water supply to the crop should be checked out. The weeds also harbor crop pests such as aphid and spider mites which are the key threats to the crop.
The main pests are white flies, red spider mites and aphids. An appropriate broad spectrum insecticide can be used to check the pest population. Yellow traps can be used against white flies too.
For those growing the herbs for export purpose and are restricted GLOBALGAP guidelines they should not worry much, biological agents can be used in an integrative manner with chemical control means in order to achieve minimum residue levels as per export requirements by KEPHIS. Red spider mites can be controlled using biological agents such as Amblyseius cucumbers or califocus, aphids can be controlled using diglyphus isae.
Common diseases are leaf spot and stem rot, field hygiene remains the main control measures for bacterial diseases.
Maturity index-the leaf stem have three segments when mature which happens in the 70th to 90th day after planting. For domestic consumption one can pluck few leaves, for commercial purpose the whole stems are cut.