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Eggplant Seedlings

Growing for Optimal Profitability – Use Quality Eggplant Seedlings

Brinjal or eggplant (Solanum melongena) is a popular warm-season crop in Africa. It is also known as the aubergine or the melongene. To benefit from earliness to the market and plant uniformity, farmers can buy eggplant seedlings from reputable bulk-supply nurseries. Temperature Range

Eggplants do not tolerate low temperatures, so should farming be done on open land, it is best to grow the plants in temperatures between 25 and 30 °C. The best time to establish seedlings varies according to the region. October to December is the best time in the Western Cape, with October to November being the best time for the cold parts of the Highveld. For areas experiencing moderate temperatures, September to December is the best time for establishment and for frost-free areas of the Lowveld, the best time is from February to May.

Popular Culinary Uses

The fruits of the plant are popular as part of many traditional dishes. They have a slightly bitter taste.

Best Soil Conditions for High Yield

Eggplant seedlings should be transplanted to well-drained soil – preferably sandy to loam soil – though the plants can grow in various soil types. What is important is to ensure optimal soil structure, which includes good nutrient composition, the correct pH, and the right soil depth. The soil’s water-retaining ability is also important.

Wide Range of Cultivars in South Africa

Eggplants range in size, shape, and colour according to its cultivar, with the type that has the dark-purple skin perhaps the best-known of all the varieties in South Africa

Preparing the Soil for Transplanting the Eggplant Seedlings

As with other crop-farming practices in South Africa, soil preparation before transplanting eggplant seedlings is very important. With proper soil preparation, the farmer can expect better plant performance and thus better subsequent yield and quality. Soil preparation plays an important role in creating optimal root formation. With sandy soil, it is imperative to prevent erosion, while with a heavier soil type, the farmer should prevent the formation of a crust on the surface. It is recommended to prepare the soil up to 400 mm deep. Ridging helps to prevent excess water from damming up around the roots. It helps to allow for aeration around the roots and to create a deep growth area for the roots. It also helps to remove excess water.

Preparing Growth Conditions for Seedling Establishment

Soil analysis should be performed to ensure optimal fertilisation can be done. Farmers should have their irrigation systems in place before they transplant the eggplant seedlings to the soil. The trellising systems that include the first wires must already be in place as well. It is best to buy eggplant seedlings from nurseries that have already provided the first chemical treatment to help the seedlings through their first few days on the open field. The conventional chemical treatment programme can thereafter be followed. Seedlings are best established in wet soil, with the holes in the soil being the same size of the plugs to prevent problems with rooting. If the holes are too small, the roots are at risk of bending over, which can affect uniformity and yield capacity. It is best to discuss the correct hole size with the seedling provider.

Irrigation Requirements and Monitoring

Irrigation must be monitored, as too much or too little water can seriously hinder the yield potential of the eggplant seedlings. Water must be given at the right time. Too much water can reduce the oxygen level in the soil, which can cause root diseases. It is best to do deep irrigation instead of light irrigation. The best irrigation methods for the plant are flow or drip irrigation. Overhead irrigation can lead to leaf diseases. Harvesting should be done only once the eggplant fruits are fully ripe and have attained the optimal colour. The fruits must still be firm, with a part of the stems still attached when taken off the plants.

Where to Obtain Eggplant Seedlings

Purchase quality eggplant seedlings from Hishtil SA in Mooketsi and the Western Cape. The nursery grows the seedlings in climate-controlled greenhouse facilities where the plants are protected against pest infestations. The seedlings are chemically treated before being delivered to the farmer. The company has ultramodern facilities for optimal propagation of pest- and disease-free eggplant seedlings.

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