The eggplant, also known as aubergine or brinjal (Solanum melongena) is a member of the family Solanaceae and, as such, is related to potatoes, tomatoes and peppers. The eggplant is a relatively little known vegetable in South Africa, but its importance is steadily increasing because of the growing local demand. Sowing times should be planned so that the crop is available when the demand is the greatest.
It is a perennial that is grown commercially as an annual. The plant is erect, branched, and 0.9m to 1.5m in height. The stems, leaves and calyx of some varieties are spined. Containing both male and female parts, the flowers are self-fertile and do not require insects for fruit set. It is best suited to areas with a long growing season and daily temperatures between 21°C and 29°C, so can be grown successfully in the Mpumalanga Lowveld during the hot summer months.
The fruit is picked after it has reached a good size, but before it begins to harden. The size at harvest will depend on the market requirements, a mass of 200g to 300g being most popular. A suitable size is reached approximately 30 days after blossoming during the warm summer months. It may be necessary to harvest two to three times a week to ensure that fruit does not become too large.
Our Starke Ayres eggplant prefers well-drained loam to sandy loam soils, but performs well in different soil types. Soil PH: (H2O) - 5,5 - 6,8. The following programme can be used as a nutrient guideline.
(Please note that a soil analysis should be taken into account):
Total requirement kg/ha: (pure element)
N - 130 - 140kg/ha (45% applied at preplant and the difference in 2 to 3 top dressings)
P - 60 - 95kg/ha (all preplant)
K - 60 - 80kg/ha (all preplant)
Starke Ayres offers a spineless variety called Violet Moon, with very attractive half-long shaped fruits. The spineless calyx helps with ease of picking and packing. Violet Moon has dark-coloured, attractive fruit, which have the ability to keep their colour to the end of production and are suitable for long production cycles.
Violet Moon eggplant is for the fresh market, suited in open-field or under-protection production. It has high-quality, medium-size fruits, with an average mass of 300g to 500g. The glossy, dark-purple fruit boasts excellent firmness. The variety is highly sought-after in markets because of its attractive shape, size and colour.