Not many first-time vegetable growers can claim an outstanding success from their initial efforts, but 33-year-old Alpheus Rapholo has entered this exclusive club. Alpheus recently started his operation on the farm Jakkalsfontein in the Swartwater district of Limpopo. Although the area is probably best known for the winter production of onions, pumpkins, squash, melons and tomatoes are also successfully grown here.
Alpheus established blocks of Turbo watermelon, STAR 7028 pumpkin and green hubbard squash. All three performed well, but Turbo was the highlight. Two blocks of 1.5 ha each were planted using grafted seedlings from a commercial nursery: the first on 20 May and the second on 20 June. The target population was 4 000 plants per hectare. Water and fertilisation were applied through a drip irrigation system and chemicals were applied by a boom sprayer. By the end of October, the plants were still looking healthy and producing fruit despite having been harvested for over a month. An average of two large fruits per plant had been realised by this stage with more to come. Sizes of up to 18Kg were achieved.
Alpheus used various channels to market the different sized fruits. Municipal markets, food stores in urban areas and direct sales all contributed to sales of the product. Every fruit was individually marked with his Blouberg brand sticker to differentiate his product from competitors in the various markets.
Following the success of the first season, plans to expand and upgrade equipment are in place. Starke Ayres congratulates Alpheus on his efforts and wishes him further success in the coming years.