Apples are temperate crops that are currently grown in the south western part of Uganda in the highlands and at the moment they are still being grown on a small scale. Apples are not widely grown in Uganda although there are a majority of apples that are imported into the country with China having the largest production of apples in the whole world. Many of the apples that are found on the Ugandan market are imported from outside countries however the government is trying to create a market for the Ugandan apples by reducing the amount of apples imported into the country.
With each passing year, the consumption of apples increases and that is why Ugandans are into apple farming in order to meet the ever increasing market demand. There are several varieties of apples but the one that is grown in Uganda is the bell apple. The bell apple is known to have a mixture that is both sweet and sour taste but this depends on how ripe it is and it is green in colour. The other types that can be grown in Uganda include the temperate apple.
Market for the apples is readily available as they are bought by individuals for home consumption and can also be sold to the pharmaceutical companies to make different types of medicine needed for curing many ailments. Some of the products that can be made from apples include apple cider vinegar, jellies, red wine and pickles among others. Apples in Uganda have different prices and this is because of the different varieties and where you are buying them from. It can go as low as shs500 per fruit and as high as ahs2500.
Benefits of Apples
- Apples contain quercetin which helps in boosting the community
- They also help in preventing cancers
- Apples give you fresh breath after eating them
- Apples contain vitamins which helps in keeping your skin smooth
- Apples also help in reducing cholesterol.
Challenges faced with growing apples in Uganda
- Bats attack the apples
- They are perishable fruits which require proper storage and transportation. They can easily rot within 3 days and therefore need extra care.
- There is stiff competition from the imported apples
- Most farmers in Uganda do not know how to cultivate apples and how to care for them which has affected commercial apple farming in Uganda.
Apple varieties that grow well in Uganda
Some of the best varieties that are grown in Uganda include the James driff, the golden Dorset, winter banana and the Dalmena green. Most of these varieties are grafted and this is where two parts of a plant are joined and cared for until they mature. Other varieties that can be grown in the tree using a greenhouse include the famous bell apple.
Apples are best grown between September and April across the country and they are planted using seeds. The apple seeds need light in order for them to be able to grow well and they should be planted with a 5m by 5m spacing. The seeds are placed in the soil after proper testing and watered after planting until they start germinating. They will take about 3 weeks to germinate. It can grow in sandy soils and needs lots of rainfall to grow well. The seedlings can be sold in 10 weeks and if you want to continue with harvesting, you will have to wait for 3 years for the trees to fully grow. There are mainly two harvests in a year and each tree can yield about 1000 fruits.
Temperate apples are the mainly consumed apples in Uganda however they are not planted in Uganda since the conditions which favour their growth are not found in the country. They grow in soils that have a 5.5PH and well-drained soils. They are best planted in January and February and grow best during the heavy rains.
Pests and diseases that attack apples
the major pests that affect apples are spider mites, codling moth, birds, aphids and thrips among others. Diseases that affect apples include armillaria root rot, apple scab and powdery mildew among others. The best way to control the pests and diseases is by spraying fungicide on the apples, maintaining proper hygiene and ensuring that you plant certified seedlings that are disease free and resistant.
Care and management of apple farms
apples need extra care if you want them to grow perfectly well and the care should start right from the time when you plant them until they are ready for harvest. The apple trees need to be pruned at least every year so that you get the desired fruits from the tree. You can as well spray the apples so that you avoid diseases from attacking the apples.
Dormancy in apples
apples normally go into dormancy between July and August and this affects the flowering of the plant. In order for one to break the dormancy, you need to remove all the leaves immediately after the cold season to reduce the dormancy. Once the leaves are removed, apply a growth regulator as this also helps in breaking dormancy (Dormex).