This article focuses on butternut farming in Kenya. Butternut is a moist flesh squash that grows on a vine. It is among the common varieties of winter squash.
Butternut can be used as an additive to stews, diets, soups and salads. Its seeds can also be roasted and used as snacks.
Nutritional benefits of butternut
- It is an excellent source of dietary fibre which can play an important role in improving digestion.
- Butternut seeds are good sources of proteins (dried seeds).
- It is a rich source of vitamins A and C.
- Contains minerals such as potassium and manganese.
Varieties of butternut
There are various varieties of butternut that can be grown. This includes;
- Atlas F1
- Early butternut F1
- Agronaut hybrid
- Autumn glow.
The most grown varieties in Kenya are Waltham and Atlas F1.
Ecological conditions for growing butternut
- Well drained soil with pH of 5.5-7.5.
- Temperature range of between 21- 28°c.
- Good spacing for vines to grow.
- Altitudes that range from 0-1700.
- Enough sunlight.
Land preparation and planting
- Land should be ploughed and prepared early enough.
- Holes should be deeply dug, about 30cm deep and an approximate spacing of 1metre.
- You can make use of organic manure, which can be mixed with soil and placed inside the holes. One seed is enough for each and every hole.
- Fertilisers that can be used include DAP during planting, CAN during top-dressing and foliar during flowering.
- You should also look out for pests and diseases that might affect your farm. You can use insecticides and fungicides such as dynamec, brigade etc. Pests and diseases need to be controlled as early as possible so as to yield maximum returns.
Harvesting of butternut
- Butternut matures after 80-90 days. However, it depends on the variety. A variety like Waltham takes 90-100 days to mature
- On average, yields range from 20-40 tonnes per hectare. This also depends on the variety grown and how you manage your farm.