The pawpaw is one of the most outstanding herbaceous or softwood fruit trees in the tropics like Kenya. It is way tall and its succulent fruit can feed a family various times in the year. Maturing at around ten months after planting, the papaya can be both a staple food source for children and adults alike even as it serves platefuls of nutrients year-in-year-out. In order to make do with at least one productive tree per farmyard, you need to instill certain skills of care to an otherwise proud fruit tree.
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In Kenya, the pawpaw fruit comes in many varieties but the most common is the Hawaiian cultivar. This kind is bisexual, meaning that it self-fertilizes itself to produce fruits that are heart-shaped, oblong and with a weight of, at most, 650g. With its red-to-orange fruit interior when ripe, this variety does well in areas of high elevation from 1800m to 2100m. Its fruits are smaller than other varieties but they make very good jam, besides featuring in baby weaning food.
Recent collaboration with the Far-east countries has helped introduce a double-yield variety, the Red Lady F1, which some claim can produce 200% over common pawpaw. It has a capacity to yield up to 120 fruits for each tree after two years of planting. Its weight is the same as the Hawaiian variety even as its flesh retains the typical orange-red color.
Now, how can one take care of a pawpaw tree till it reaches maturity?
Planting of pawpaw trees happens easily through seeds. One has just to cut open the yellow interior of the ripe fruit and hygienically carve out the seeds with a sterile object before eating the flesh. The next step is to keep them dry till they are ready to sow in loamy, well-drained soil with plenty of moisture.
It is necessary to sow as many seeds as possible especially for varieties that are not bisexual as these require several males per ten females to pollinate. Whenever seeds germinate, it is impossible to differentiate between the masculine and feminine ones and therefore one has to allow them to grow up to 100cm. This is when they begin flowering and in here the theory lies that males flower first. Most farmers usually remove most of the males and retain maximum females since the latter are the only ones that bear fruit. It is possible to tell female flowers because they are more widespread on the crown and thicker than their opposite sex counterparts.
Transplanting pawpaw from Kenya requires a spacious ground that can house as may trees as possible without depriving them of resources, especially nitrogen. Since the tree has high nutrient demands, it is not rare to find only one tree per farmyard. It is possible to transplant as many seedlings as possible per acre, to some extent even a thousand seedlings, as long as there is plenty of mulch, farmyard manure and fertilizer.
Maintaining the Pawpaw Tree
Manure: while thriving in soils with PH levels of between 5.5 and 7.0 provides enough fertility in the highlands, papaya requires a lot of well-decomposed manure to improve nutrient retention. This is because as the tree grows higher and higher, the crown puts on weight and needs as good nutrients as the stem beneath.
Mulching: beanstalks, old leaves and other nitrogen-fixing plant materials should always feature in planting holes and in every field where there are mature trees. They not only add fertility to the ground but provide support to an otherwise unsteady tree as it grows taller and taller.
Irrigation: In terms of watering, the pawpaw is a warm or hot clime plant that requires plenty of water but not too much. 1000 millimeters of rainfall that is consistent and occasional irrigation in dry areas provides optimum growth parameters.
Propping: As the pawpaw tree produces more and more over the years, the crown or topmost part gains enormous dimensions that can easily topple the stem in case of a storm. This is not forgetting that the roots shallowly hold to the ground. This is why poles such as those that hold banana trunks should go into supporting the older papaya trees.
Pest resistance: It is not necessary to use pesticides if growing virus resistant varieties especially the Hawaiian bisexual cultivar, above. This is because it can be able to resist naturally the ring spot virus disease. Furthermore, it can extend its lifetime of producing fruits for up to a decade without losing much of the fruits’ shapes and weight.
Other pests and destructive agents to take care of include, fruit bats as well as birds. Though quarantine measures and organic ways are available, most farmers use sulphur sprays to deter pests such as broad mites. For root decomposition, an overwatering problem, it is a recommendation to cease watering, especially during the cold months around June through August to allow conservation of dry matter.
With the above caring details, your Kenya pawpaw tree will never cease to produce tens of uniformly-sized fruits around the year. With a full acre especially laden with new varieties, such as the Red F1 from the Phillipines, the export business will only be a call away.