Shiba success in the East

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The Pongola area is well known for warm winter conditions and this allows production of cucurbit crops when most other areas are too cold to allow this. Local farmer Bernard Johnstone and foreman Pieter van Zyl planted 10 Ha of Shiba on the 15th April and started harvesting in August. This is a late planting date even for this area but good prices usually compensate for lower yields. The soils used for this planting were very sandy and extra attention was given to the fertilizer programme to compensate for leaching of nutrients by irrigation water. The harvest showed exceptionally good external and internal quality. Fruit shape tended to be blocky which is typical of a winter crop and very few large fruit were produced. Taste and internal colour were especially noteworthy. A similar result was obtained by Themba Dlamini, a farmer in nearby Eswatini. Also growing on sandy soils with the associated challenges, he managed to produce a crop of export quality. Butternuts from Themba’s plantings were exported to France where the fruit was well received by the discerning customers in that country. Shiba has proved adaptable and with attention to detail will produce high quality butternuts under widely varying conditions.

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