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Become a Vegetable Farmer in South Africa

Besides Seedlings, What is Needed to Become a Vegetable Farmer in South Africa?

  Besides quality and disease-free vegetable seedlings as available from bulk-supply nurseries, anyone who wants to take on the challenge of crop farming in South Africa should do their homework first. Farming can be profitable, but it takes hard work, skill, available land, equipment, and water. This article introduces the basic decisions and requirements for entry level commercial crop farming from vegetable seedlings in South Africa.  

Which Crop?

  The type of vegetable to be farmed determines irrigation needs, harvesting equipment, seedlings protection, the number of labourers, soil pH needs, and storage facilities required. Instead of choosing a crop, simply based on the market demand and potential for profitability, the farmer should first consider the area in which farming will take place.   If the crop is to be grown in a greenhouse facility where it is possible to control the temperature, humidity, and climate conditions, then the choice of crop seedlings is not so much dependent on the region where farming is to take place.   For outdoor crop farming, it is an entirely different scenario as issues, such as soil-borne diseases, the particular season, growth period for the particular crop, wind conditions, fluctuations between day and night temperatures, and the type of soil become extremely important.   To this end, prospective crop farmers should seek expert guidance from agronomists, read as much as possible about crops for the particular region, and get guidance from the supplier of vegetable seedlings regarding the appropriate cultivar for the particular growth area.

Vegetable Seedlings for Farmers in South Africa

Other Requirements

  Land is essential since the crop must grow somewhere. Keep in mind that deforestation for the purpose of crop farming is not recommended because it has a negative effect on the environment. Rather than clearing natural vegetation, the prospective farmer should use land that was previously cultivated. Greenhouse facility crop growing requires less space than open field farming, but the initial set-up costs can be high.  

Irrigation Equipment and Water Availability

  Read up on the particular crop’s watering requirements. With several guides available online, the farmer can get the required information to work out how many litres of water must be delivered to the plants per hectare, how often, and when.   Vegetables of which the leaves are harvested do best with drip irrigation. The depth of irrigation needed changes as the plants mature. Seedlings have shallow roots. This means that during the establishment and early growth period, the upper part of the soil must be watered. Once the plants (depending on their particular root systems) reach maturity, deeper irrigation is required.   For watering the plants, irrigation equipment, a means of pumping the water to the irrigation points, and soil moisture meters are essential.  

Planting, Harvesting, and Storage

  Planting in large-scale is best done with mechanical planters. Also remember that the soil must be prepared before the seedlings can be transplanted. A guide for such is available here. Where necessary, wind breakers must be installed. Nutrition application must be done to ensure optimal growth can take place. The soil pH must be measured and adjusted for the particular crop type.   Besides soil preparation and planting equipment, harvesting equipment must be purchased or rented. Some crops are harvested by hand. Even then, the workers will require specific tools and crates or bags for storing the harvested fruits. Once harvested, the vegetables must be cleaned, stored in the right conditions, and then transported to the relevant market.   With so many factors to take into consideration, newcomers to vegetable crop farming should conduct thorough research to ensure they know what is needed. It is best to work with a more experienced farmer or to attend workshops and courses to gain the necessary knowledge. For plant stock, speak to us as one of the leading and trusted suppliers of vegetable seedlings in South Africa.