In this Issue Volume 36 April - June 2011

Volume 36 April - June 2011
In this Issue
Pata Negra F1, Word from Management
Loitokitok Assila Launch
Burundi Expose; Hybrid Seedlings
Seed Processing Unit Launch, Mbaazi Recipe
Controlling Melon Fly
Assila F1 Launch Pictorial
Green Acres Centre
Growing A Vigorous Patch of Watermelons
By Daniel Musyoka
Soils: Plant watermelons in good, well-drained soil. The crop
prefers a sandy loam soil texture with pH of 5.8 to 7.2. Clay
soils do not raise a good crop. Cultivation in heavy textured
soils results in a slower crop development and cracked fruits.
If your soil is difficult, create raised beds by adding organic
matter to improve the drainage and aeration.
Fertilizer Requirements: Watermelons are heavy feeders.
Add generous amounts of manure, compost and leaves to
your garden. Work the soil well. Make sure it drains well.
Fertilize with a phosphate fertilizer at planting, 3-4 weeks
later, top dress with CAN for leaf development and 4 weeks
after this, top dress again with NPK triple 17 for fruits and
flowering. You may also apply recommeneded foliar feeds
for vegetative growth and flowering.
atermelons, botanically called
Citrullus lanatus belong to the family
of Cucurbitaceae, they originated in Africa.
Watermelons grow large -- but how do you
know when they are ready for picking? With
the many different types of watermelons and the many different
sizes, it can be confusing. There are some signs to watch for that can
indicate your watermelon is fully grown. We’ll show you how to grow
and harvest watermelons here.
Planting Instructions
Watermelons prefer a hot, dry climate with mean daily temperatures
of 22 to 30°C. Maximum and minimum temperatures for growth are
about 35 and 18°C respectively. The optimum soil temperature for
root growth is in the range of 20 to 35°C. Fruits grown under hot, dry
conditions have a higher sugar content compared to those grown
under cool, humid conditions. The crop is very sensitive to frost.
The length of the total growing period ranges from 80 to 110 days,
depending on climate.
Spacing: Watermelon vines require considerable space. You
can sow seeds in hills or rows. Seeds are placed on
hills spaced 1m x 1m. and planted 2cm deep.
One-two weeks after the seedlings are
established, thin to the best
three plants per
Micronutrients: Apply as determined by soil test.
Micronutrients that should be tested for are zinc,
manganese and boron.
Watering: Watermelons need adequate water for
productivity, though their requirements are slightly lower
than those of other vegetables. Plant stress from limited water
availability will cause them to stop growing and reduce fruit
size and quality. All the same, be careful not to over water. Excessive
irrigation can reduce crop yields by leaching crop nutrients or
promoting disease, it can also cause fruiting plants to collapse from lack
of oxygen. Watermelons have extensive root systems and can obtain
available ground moisture, thus reducing irrigation requirements.
Check the soil moisture regularly and water as necessary before the
melons start to wilt or go into stress. Allow the top 1” to 2” of soil to dry
between watering.
Plant Development and Care: Maintaining a healthy plant is the
first step in disease control. This includes weeding, pruning and proper
spacing to allow good air circulation, especially in wet and humid
Sunlight- Watermelons need full sun and heat to grow healthy vines
and big fruit.
Weeding- Watermelons are not good competitors and do not
flourish if weeds shade them or compete with them for moisture
and fertilizer. Remove small weeds to avoid stunting or stressing the
melons. Avoid disturbing the root by cultivation as this weakens vines
and keeps them from producing fruit.
Rotate planting locations and use resistant varieties to avoid
Continued on pg. 3 ...
The much anticipated rains, though
late, are here with us at long last.
We hope that all our farmers will be
taking advantage of the rain to plant
our varieties and exercise the good
management practices outlined in this
As the rains continue to pound most
areas of the country, we at Monsanto (K)
ltd are focused on ensuring our seed is
available in the Agrovet nearest to you.
In this edition, we have given coverage to
our ‘new kids on the block’ Water Melon
Pata Negra F1 and Tomato Assila F1. We
cover the launching of Tomato Assila F1
in Mwea, Central Kenya and in Loitokitok
towards the South-Eastern part of the
country. The two events were very
successful. Our entire Monsanto team
was out of the office interacting with the
farmers and listening to the experiences
they go through as they try to better
their lives.
Worth mentioning, are the new hybrids
we have added to our product portfolio.
We have the Watermelon Sentinel F1
(variegated oval) and Cucumber Darina
F1(Ashley type). We have also added to
our Hybrid Tomato Anna product line by
availing a new farmer-friendly 500 seedpack.
We cannot wrap up this edition without
highlighting our partnerships, which
have been strategic in the growth of the
hybrid seed business.
So, this season, we once again encourage
our esteemed farmers to grow our
cabbage Victoria F1 and Blue Dynasty
F1, these have proven themselves in
the highlands and warmer parts of the
country respectively. We assure you that
these varieties will be available to you at
the most competitive prices.
We wish you all the best.
Elizabeth Mranda
In the
Pata Negra F1,
Oh So Sweet
By Jared Onduso
Yield potential of 46 t/acre
Very sweet brilliant red, crisp flesh
Early maturing variety 100-120 days
Dark green round uniform fruit 7-8 kg in weight
Very vigorous plant with good fruit cover
Excellent transportability due to thick fruit rind
Variety tolerant to Fusarium wilt
Very high yielding
Long distance shipper, reduced loss
during transport
medium size and excellent fruit flesh
Good returns
Unveiling Hybrid Tomato
Assila in Loitokitok
By Nathan Koskei
In Mid-March, Seminis officially launched
hybrid Tomato Assila in Loitoktok. Farmers
from Loitokitok and its environs came to
witness the birth of this new farming baby
in the region.
Tomato Assila has excellent features that
farmers have long been yearning for. It is
a boon for tomato growers who have long
relied on the ordinary open pollinated
varieties (OPVs), normally low yielding and
with poor disease resistance.
Assila can yield up to 30 tonnes per acre,
twice as much as the OPVs and is tolerant
to the deadly Tomato Yellow Leaf Curl
Virus(TYLCV) popularly known in the area
as ngumi. The variety also has a longer shelf
life compared to OPVs.
>>> Monsanto’s Kobus Burger unveils the Tomato Assila banner , looking on are Loitokitok farmers and the Monsanto team
At the event, Seminis technical sales staff
were able to show farmers the advantages of planting hybrid tomato varieties over OPVs. Addressing farmers, Kobus Burger Monsanto
Lead for the Vegetable Seed division, thanked them for their support retierating the company’s commitment to helping farmers meet
. . .continued from pg 1
pest and disease accumulation.
Pruning - Remove deformed and melon fly-stung fruits. Deformed
fruits result primarily from water stress and/or insufficient
pollination. These fruits are removed at an early stage in order to
obtain uniformly well-shaped fruits. In some instances growers
remove well-formed fruits if there are more than two or three
melons already developing on the plant. Reducing the number
of melons per plant, concentrates the plant’s producing power in
a smaller number of fruits, thereby increasing size and perhaps
Insects and Pests
Early use of insecticides is important. While constant scouting
is crucial in controlling pests and diseases. Fungicides can be
effective if used early.
Major insect pests include aphids, melon fly and mites. Powdery
and downy mildews, anthracnose, alternaria leaf spot, gummy
stem blight and Fusarium wilt are some of the common diseases
affecting watermelon. However, some cultivars are resistant to
some diseases.
only be used when the melons are cool; an immature melon
will sound mature if it has become warm throughout.
Look at the color on the top. The fruit is ripe when there is
little contrast between the stripes. Another indication is when
the surface color of the fruit turns dull.
Look for the spot where the melon rested on the ground; a
yellow or a cream-yellow colored spot suggests ripeness and a
white or pale green spot indicates immaturity.
The curly tendril immediately opposite where the melon is
attached to the vine will be brown and withered when the
melon is ripe.
Storage and Handling
Watermelons are not adapted to long storage. At low temperatures
they are subject to various symptoms of chilling injury and loss
of quality, and at high temperatures they are subject to decay.
Between 10 and 150 C is a good compromise. Watermelons should
be consumed within 2 to 3 weeks after harvest, primarily because
of the gradual loss of crispness. Quality hybrids are able to keep
Watermelons should not be dropped, thrown, or walked on, as
internal bruising and flesh breakdown will occur.
Harvest Recommendations
It is difficult to tell if a watermelon is ripe by just looking; it must
be examined. Watermelons will not continue to ripen after harvest.
For best quality, be sure to scout the crop daily so that melons can
be picked when they are at their best. Here are indications you can
look for:
• Thump it. When thumped an immature melon will give
a metallic “plank” and a mature one a dull “plunk”, if the
harvester can determine the difference. This method should
Burundi Farmers’ Marvel at Monsanto’s Hybrids
By Wamae Mwangi
onsanto recently held a field day in Burundi
to promote its hybrid varieties in the region.
Among these were onions, tomatoes and
cabbages. The crops impressed local farmers. Farmers in
the area usually grow Open Pollinated Varieties (OPVs),
which are often low yielding with poor disease tolerance.
One farmer attending the event had this to say:
“With this kind of income,
our children’s education
is guaranteed.”
“The onions I usually grow give me less than 15tonnes
per acre. But today I have seen for myself that with
Jambar F1 and Mercedes F1, one can get up to 23tonnes
per acre! It is impossible to achieve such a harvest with
open pollinated varieties. I have also seen tomato Anna
F1 in the field; I was impressed that it continues to
produce fruits for close to a year. Having such a crop, will
ensure that we have continous income all year round.
With this kind of income, our children’s education is
I thank Monsanto for finally bringing to us products
which will reward our hard work. I also thank you for
your commitment in supporting us with the technical
information we need to realize full yields’’
Raising Healthy Seedlings Begins with Good Seed
By Paul Dondi with David Ndung’u
ongonot Farm is a plant propagation nursery raising plug
seedlings for both horticultural and floricultural farmers.
“We use hybrid seeds from certified seed companies. In particular,
we find that Monsanto Hybrid seeds have better germination vigour
and percentage resulting in higher usable transplants thus reducing
costs. Our range of seeds from Monsanto include, Tomato Anna F1,
Onion Jambar F1, Cabbage Victoria F1, Tomato Assila F1, Broccoli
Heritage F1 and Sweet pepper Redknight F1 amongst others. Our
farmers also prefer Monsanto varieties because they are high
yielding and fetch them good returns.
Apart from just having quality seeds, Monsanto offers one of the
best customer-service.
They ensure that our
staff is well-equipped
“ We use hybrid seeds from certified
with information
seed companies. ... we find that
and see to it that any
Monsanto Hybrid seeds have better
product information
germination vigour and percentage
is disseminated to the
farmer through our
resulting in higher usable transplants
nursery. Working with
thus reducing costs.”
Monsanto has ensured
growth for our nursery
business as we are now able to reach farmers from various parts of
the country. “
>>> Standing amid Monsanto’s Cabbage Victoria F1 seedlings are Longonot Farm’s Joseph Muthomi and Dorcas Ayuma with Monsanto’s David Ndungu (middle)
High-tech Maize Facility Launched in South Africa
Monsanto Maize Sales Team from East Africa recently joined their
South African counterparts for the official launch of the third and
final phase of Monsanto’s technologically advanced maize seed
plant in Lichtenburg, South Africa. The facility was officially opened
by Kobus Lindeque, area Director of Monsanto Africa.
The plant, known as Thobontle (Setswana for “great harvest”),
was enlarged to supply excellent quality maize seed to farmers. It
begins operations from May 1 2011.
“Monsanto’s aim is to provide food to all people in a sustainable
manner and good quality seed is the origin of all food,” says
The new phase comprises a storing facility which accomodates
approximately 140 000 bags of maize seed each holding about 25
kg. A new cooling facility at the site keeps maize at temperatures
under 150C, this area holds up to 40,000 bags of maize seed. Bags
for local sales as well as for export can be kept under optimum
conditions at this new facility which contains state-of-the-art grain
drying and laboratory research facilities.
The dryer section can process some 320 tonnes of maize cobs daily. At the dryer the whole cobs are put in drying bins and dried to the required
temperature and moisture content. Thereafter, the kernels are shelled and samples taken to the laboratory for testing. The seed is tested for
purity, emergence and where necessary, the presence of the Bt- or Roundup Ready genes.
RECIPE: Mbaazi wa Nazi (Pigeon Peas in Coconut Milk)
By Nashone Mukabane
½ kg pigeon peas (dried); or substitute black-eyed pea or cowpeas -cleaned, soaked, and rinsed
one or two cups each of “thick” and “thin” coconut
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 inch ginger, grated
½ cup corriander (dhania) finely chopped
one or two onions, chopped
one hot green chili pepper, cleaned and chopped
one teaspoon curry powder -- or turmeric
salt, to taste
1. In a large pot or using a pressure cooker, boil pigeon peas till tender.
2. Stir in the thin coconut milk, Continue to simmer over low heat. Add
more water as necessary to prevent the peas from becoming dry. While
peas are simmering: Heat a few tablespoons of oil in a pan. Add the
curry powder to the oil and stir for a minute. Fry the onion and chilli
pepper until they are tender, add garlic, ginger and corriander.
3. Add peas to the fried mixture. Continue to simmer until peas are tender
enough to eat. Then, add the thick coconut milk and simmer on the
lowest possible heat for five to ten minutes, stirring occasionally.
Serve with Chapati or Rice.
“Thick” and “thin” coconut milk are made from the meat of the ripened
coconut. They can be approximated by diluting canned coconut milk.
Thick coconut milk is prepared by directly squeezing grated coconut meat
through cheesecloth. The squeezed coconut meat is then soaked in warm water
and squeezed a second or third time for thin coconut milk.
When using canned coconut milk. Use unsweetened coconut milk; shake
the can well, before opening. Divide the contents of the can into two parts,
placing about two-thirds of the can’s contents in one measuring cup and the
remaining one-third in another. Add enough hot water to each cup to make
two cups. The first is the “thick”, the second is the “thin”.
Mwea Tomato Assila Launch
Loitokitok Tomato Assila Launch
Is it possible to save my QUESTIONS
crop from Melon Fly
By Jared Onduso
How do they Destroy the Crop?
Melon fly damages fruit in the same way as other fruit fly
species. The melon fly can attack both flowers, stem and
root tissue, and fruit. The adult female fly typically lays
eggs in fruit leaving punctures or stings in the skin. The
eggs hatch into larvae (maggots) which tunnel into the
fruit causing rotting. Melon fly larvae can also develop in
blossoms and some vegetative portions of plants. Among
vegetative plant material, newly emerged seedlings and
terminal shoots are preferred. Similarly, among fruits,
immature fruit is usually selected. Affected fruit will often
fall from the plant prematurely.
Image: Alton N. Sparks, Jr., University of Georgia,
What is a Melon Fly?
The melon fly (Bactrocera cucurbitae), is a fruit fly of the family
Tephritidae. It’s a serious agricultural pest affecting various
horticultural crops including watermelon.
Life Cycle
The adult female fly lays eggs in fruit leaving punctures or stings in
the skin. Though eggs are generally laid in young fruit, they can also
be laid in the succulent stems of host plants. The female may lay
as many as 1,000 eggs. The eggs are deposited in cavities created
by the female using its sharp ovipositor.The eggs hatch into larvae
(maggots) which tunnel into the fruit causing rotting. Affected fruit
will often fall from the plant prematurely.
When larvae have finished feeding, they leave the fruit, burrow into
the soil, pupate then emerge as adult fruit flies. This life cycle will
typically take 14-28 days for completion.There may be as many as 8
to 10 generations a year.
How can one Spot a Melon Fly?
Melon flies are most often found on low, leafy, succulent vegetation
near cultivated areas. In hot weather they rest on the undersides of
leaves and in shady areas. They are strong fliers and usually fly in
the mornings and afternoons. They feed on the juices of decaying
fruit, nectar, bird faeces, and plant sap.
Adult fruit flies in general are typically about the size of a house
fly and are reddish-brown to dark brown in colour, with yellow
markings on the thorax (the middle body section). The distinctive
features of melon fly include:
A yellow stripe in the middle of the thorax between the
A black (often incomplete) T-shaped marking on the
abdomen (the rear body section)
Additional dark patches towards the outer edge of the
Larval feeding damage in fruits is the most damaging.
Mature attacked fruits develop a water soaked appearance.
Young fruits become distorted and usually drop. The larval
tunnels provide entry points for secondary invaders;
insects as well as bacteria and fungi that cause the fruit
to rot. Damage can also occur from egg-laying even when
larvae do not survive because oviposition allows entry
of microorganisms or causes deformities in the growing
Some differences in damage among cucurbits exist. Seedling and
stem damage is more common in watermelon and cantaloupe than
in squash, cucumbers, and pumpkin. Blossom damage is serious
among all cucurbits except cucumber. Both male and female
blossoms of squash and pumpkin are affected, but in watermelon
and cantaloupe the male blossom generally escapes attack.
How can I get Rid of Melon Fly?
A number of methods can be used to control melon fly
menace. They include:
• Wrapping developing fruit with a protective covering
and the use of baited traps.
• Field sanitation: Destroy all unmarketable and infested
fruits and dispose crop residues immediately after
harvest. Infested fruit should be buried 3 feet under
soil surface. Adding lime is helpful in killing emerging
• Use trap crops.
• Chemical sprays: Using proteinaceous liquid attractants
in insecticide sprays is a recommended method of
controlling adult melon fly populations in the vicinity of
crops. The bait insecticide sprays are applied to broad
leaf plants that serve as refugia for melon fly adults.
Baits serve to encourage the adults (especially females)
to feed on the spray residue and can provide good rates
of kill. To be effective, bait-insecticide sprays must be
used in combination with good sanitation practices.
These practices include destruction of unmarketable
fruit on every harvest date, and destruction of crop
residues immediately after economic harvest has been
Meet our
Green Acres Centre
contributed towards achieving
the business’ objective of offering
customers high quality farming
inputs. With first-rate inputs, farmers
have been able to attain required
production levels, translating to
enhanced food production in the
(L-R) Green Acres shop attendant, Linus Githinji; Proprietor ,Mrs. Warugongo and Monsanto’s David Ndung’u
reen Acres Centre is located
about 250 kilometres north of
Nairobi in the heart of Nyahururu
town - host world renowned Thompson’s
The shop opened its doors in 1993. Its
vision, in Mr Warugongo’s own words,
is ”... to eradicate poverty and to put
food on the table for the ever increasing
world population.” Seed supply has been
an integral part of the business over the
past 17 years. The busines has grown
and now caters for farmers in Nyandarua
County and beyond.
Over the years, they have resorted to van
selling in reaching out to customers who
live far off from the town; this approach
has allowed them to grow their marketshare.
The directors, Mr and Mrs Warugongo,
always make sure that their employees
are skilled and updated in their
knowledge of modern farming needs
through regular trainings. Having welltrained personnel means that they can
handle the growing number of customers
and give dependable advice. This has
The relationship between
the Monsanto sales team and
Green Acres Centre cannot go
unmentioned. The Monsanto team
gives regular feedback regarding
the supply of seeds, which has been
of great help in planning and crucial
to the growth of the business.
With growth, the businesss has
seen need to invest in IT (Information
Technology), this has made ordering of
products and stock management more
efficient - shortages are now a thing of the
Mr and Mrs Warugongo are grateful to
Monsanto for helping them win the trust
of the farmers they serve by offering
consistent quality in seed and service.
“Monsanto leads in innovation - helping
farmers realize their dreams by offering
high yielding varieties.”
Tomatoes being a key crop in growth
of their business, Green Acres Centre is
partnering with Monsanto in getting the
new tomato Assila F1 to farmers in Ng’arua,
Subukia, Rumuruti, Kiamariga and Pesi.
Kibwezi Field Day
Tomato Field Day
Burundi Expose
Field Day
Fintrac-Technoserve training
Meru ASK Show
Rwanda Expose
Uganda Expose
P.O. Box 47686, 00100, NAIROBI, KENYA
Tel: 254 20 2060922/44, 3574301/4,
Fax: 254 20 823086, 3574300
Mobile: 254 722 205594, 722 205294,
722 205529, 254 733 600468, 733 629414
www.monsantoafrica. com