Sukuma Wiki Growing Guide

Sukuma Wiki is known as Collard Greens in english. It is a form of a cabbage where green leaves do not form a head. Collard greens is commonly grown in Kenya by 90% of small scale farmers. 

Sukuma Wiki is rich in beta carotene, vitamin K, vitamin C, lutein, zeaxanthin, roughage, iron and calcium. It is mostly fried alone or with a mixture of other vegetables, especially onion and tomatoes, and served mostly with Ugali and Beef

Farming Collard Greens is profitable because it is consumed by nearly every household in Kenya, at least once a week. It takes a short time to mature and most varieties can be harvested several times before the need to plant again. 

Varieties of Sukuma Wiki

  • Mfalme F1 Sukuma Wiki

It has a long harvesting period, and the leaves are not acidic when cooked, making it a preferred choice among people with ulcers. It has short spaces between the nodes, developing many leaves per internode. Mfalme F1 can tolerate some pests and diseases. It ready for harvest between 45 to 60 days and can be harvested throughout one year after the first harvest

  • Thousand Headed Sukuma Wiki

Compared to other varieties of Sukuma Wiki, the thousand headed variety has smaller leaves but is loved because of its long harvesting period. It produces many heads, making it yield more leaves. Thousand Headed Sukuma Wiki is usually ready for harvest 60 days after planting. It has very good heat tolerance. 

  • Sukuma Siku Hybrid

With good tolerance to the diamond black moth, the Sukuma Siku Hybrid Sukuma Wiki yields curled soft leaves, with good flavour and can be harvested for between 6 and 9 months after the first harvest. 

  • Marrow Stem Sukuma Wiki

The Marrow Stem Sukuma Wiki is good for cooler climate, with a good distribution of rainfall. It produces dark green leaves

  • Collards Southern Georgia  Sukuma Wiki

Collards Southern Georgia  is a drought-tolerant Sukuma Wiki variety, with the yield potential of 6000kgs per acre. It has good heat tolerance. 

Ecological Requirements of growing Sukuma Wiki

Sukuma Wiki can grow nearly in any climatic condition, provided water is available. It best performs at altitudes of between 800m to 2200 above sea level. The optimum temperature range is between 17 degrees Celsius and 22 degrees celsius. Sukuma Wiki requires at least 6 hours of direct sunlight. 

For optimum yield, Sukuma Wiki requires enough water during its growing period. Well distributed Rainfall of 350-500mm is ideal. 

The best soils for growing Sukuma Wiki are those that are well-drained and rich in organic matter. The ideal pH should be between 5.5 and 7.0. Higher levels of pH make manganese unavailable to the plant, leading to yellowing of leaves. 

Sukuma Wiki Yield Per Acre

Sukuma wiki will yield about 8000kgs per acre, under good management practices. 

Land Preparation for growing Sukuma Wiki

When preparing the land for growing Sukuma Wiki, make sure the ploughing is deep, allowing for faster and better root development. Remove any perennial weeds before planting. Prepare the land early enough so as to expose the soil to pests to sunlight and birds.  The birds will eat the pests. Sunlight will kill some of the pests. 

Nursery preparation for Sukuma Wiki

You can sow Sukuma Wiki seeds on open nursery or seedling trays. 

When sowing Sukuma Wiki seeds in open field nursery, establish the nursery where the plants from the same vegetable family have not been planted for 2 years. 

Make the nursery about 1 metre wide.  This will allow you to take care of the seedlings without having to step onto the nursery. The length of the nursery can be as long as desired. If you are sowing in an area with heavy rainfall or heavy soils, it is recommended that you raise the nursery bed in order to prevent waterlogging. 

Mix well-decomposed manure and DAP fertilizer with the soil in the nursery. Phosphorus helps in good root development while the manure improves soil structure and moisture retention.  

In the nursery, prepare drills across the beds at a spacing of 10 to 15 centimetres apart and 2 centimeters deep. Sow the seeds thinly and cover lightly with soil. Cover the bed with a thin layer of mulch, to avoid unearthing of the seeds.  The mulch can be removed after germination. If growing in hot areas, make a shed of 1 metre high. 

Once the seeds germinate, thin the seedlings to 2 to 3 centimeters apart to avoid competition for nutrients and space. Such competition will lead to weak seedlings. Crowding also creates a good environment for diseases. 

Top dressing with CAN, only of poor soils, should be done 2 weeks after germination. 

Water once or twice daily. Control pests in the nursery to ensure the seedlings are healthy. 

Transplanting Sukuma Wiki Seedlings

Transplant plant the seedlings when they have 4 to 5 true roots. The Collard Greens seedlings will be about 4 weeks old. Harden the seedlings by reducing the amount of water given, one week to the transplanting day. 

The best time to transplant Sukuma Wiki is in the morning or evenings when the sun is not hot. It is advisable only to transplant the strong healthy seedlings. 

Spacing for Sukuma Wiki

The spacing for Sukuma Wiki depends on the size of the leaves/head. The recommended spacing for sukuma wiki is:

  • 30 by 30 centimetres for small sukuma wiki with small leaves
  • 60 by 45 centimetres for sukuma wiki with medium-sized leaves
  • 60 by 60 centimetres for sukuma wiki with large leaves

Diseases affecting Sukuma Wiki

  • Downy Mildew
  • Powdery Mildew
  • Leaf Spots
  • Black Spots
  • Damping Off

Pests affecting Sukuma Wiki

  • Aphids
  • Diamond black moth
  • Cutworms
  • Sawfly
  • Thrips
  • Whiteflies
  • Root knot nematodes

Fertilizer Application for Sukuma Wiki

A soil test is encouraged before planting sukuma wiki, because too much of some nutrients, especially CAN, can lead to loose heads or no head formed at all.  The Sukuma Wiki Fertilizer and Manure Application Schedule is:

  • Manure and DAP fertilizer in the nursery.  Mix well with the soil
  • Top dress with CAN in the nursery. This should be only done where soils are poor
  • Apply one teaspoon of DAP or TSP on the planting garden before transplanting in the ratio of one teaspoon per hole
  • Top dress with one teaspoon of CAN per hole, 2 weeks after transplanting
  • When the leaves start to fold, top-dress CAN, at the rate of one teaspoon per hole

Mulching for Sukuma Wiki

Mulching for sukuma wiki is encouraged in order to prevent loss of soil moisture, soil erosion, and growth of weeds. 

Weed Control when Growing Sukuma Wiki

Weeds will be detrimental to sukuma wiki and affect your yield, as they compete for nutrients and water with the sukuma wiki plants. Manual or semi-mechanical weeding can be done to remove the weeds. When weeding, do it in a shallow manner in order to avoid injuring the sukuma wiki leaves. 

Bunch of Sukuma Wiki

Harvesting Sukuma Wiki and Post Harvest Care

Within 4 weeks after transplanting, meaning about 8 weeks after planting the seeds, Sukuma Wiki will be ready for harvest. It is done when the leaves are the size of your hand. 

Sukuma Wiki Harvesting is done manually, by handpicking. Handle the leaves with care, to avoid bruises. Only harvest the outer leaves, so that you can continue harvesting as new leaves develop. 

Sukuma Wiki leaves can be stored 7-10 days under refrigeration and longer if cooked and frozen. Most farmers harvest and take to the market on the same day, to avoid the need for refrigeration.