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Volume 36 April - June 2011

In this Issue

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Pata Negra F1, Word from Management Loitokitok Assila Launch Burundi Expose; Hybrid Seedlings

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Growing A Vigorous Patch of Watermelons

Seed Processing Unit Launch, Mbaazi Recipe Controlling Melon Fly Assila F1 Launch Pictorial Green Acres Centre

By Daniel Musyoka

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.

Soils: Plant watermelons in good, well-drained soil. The crop

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. Micronutrients: Apply as determined by soil test. Micronutrients that should be tested for are zinc, manganese and boron. 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.

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. Well show you how to grow and harvest watermelons here.

Watering: Watermelons need adequate water for

Planting Instructions

Watermelons prefer a hot, dry climate with mean daily temperatures of 22 to 30C. Maximum and minimum temperatures for growth are about 35 and 18C respectively. The optimum soil temperature for root growth is in the range of 20 to 35C. 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.

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 weather. 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
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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 hill.

from Management
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 edition. 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

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

By Jared Onduso

Very high yielding Long distance shipper, reduced loss during transport High market demand because of medium size and excellent fruit flesh qualities Good returns

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.

Unveiling Hybrid Tomato Assila in Loitokitok


By Nathan Koskei

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.
>>> Monsantos 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 companys commitment to helping farmers meet their objectives. SEE PAGE 6 FOR MORE EVENT PICTURES]
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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 plants producing power in a smaller number of fruits, thereby increasing size and perhaps quality.

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.

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.

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 longer. Watermelons should not be dropped, thrown, or walked on, as internal bruising and flesh breakdown will occur.

Storage and Handling

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 Monsantos Hybrids

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: 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 childrens education is guaranteed. 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


By Wamae Mwangi

With this kind of income, our childrens education is guaranteed.

Raising Healthy Seedlings Begins with Good Seed

By Paul Dondi with David Ndungu
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.

ongonot Farm is a plant propagation nursery raising plug seedlings for both horticultural and floricultural farmers.

>>> Standing amid Monsantos Cabbage Victoria F1 seedlings are Longonot Farms Joseph Muthomi and Dorcas Ayuma with Monsantos David Ndungu (middle)

Monsanto Maize Sales Team from East Africa recently joined their South African counterparts for the official launch of the third and final phase of Monsantos 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. Monsantos aim is to provide food to all people in a sustainable manner and good quality seed is the origin of all food, says Lindeque. 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.

High-tech Maize Facility Launched in South Africa

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

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 oil 2 cloves garlic, minced 1 inch ginger, grated 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

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 cans 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.

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

Mwea Tomato Assila Launch

Loitokitok Tomato Assila Launch

Your Is it possible to save my QUESTIONS Answered crop from Melon Fly damage?
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. 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 fruit.

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. Its 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.

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 larvae. 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 completed.

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 wings A black (often incomplete) T-shaped marking on the abdomen (the rear body section) Additional dark patches towards the outer edge of the wings

Green Acres Centre

Meet our

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 area. 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.

(L-R) Green Acres shop attendant, Linus Githinji; Proprietor ,Mrs. Warugongo and Monsantos David Ndungu

reen Acres Centre is located about 250 kilometres north of Nairobi in the heart of Nyahururu town - host world renowned Thompsons Falls.

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

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 past. 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 Ngarua, Subukia, Rumuruti, Kiamariga and Pesi.

The shop opened its doors in 1993. Its vision, in Mr Warugongos 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.

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MONSANTO KENYA LTD, TUSKYS HEAD OFFICE COMPLEX MOMBASA RD. 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


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