Apple cultivation in Nigeria can be regarded as a futile attempt by so many that have tried different approach and techniques to cultivate Apple in their garden or farm yet only few or none can attest to whether Apple seed can survive in Nigeria or not.
So many are of the believe that apple can’t grow in Nigeria. While this fact might be absolute truth, it is worthwhile to know that Apple can actually grow here in Nigeria even for commercial quantity.
Apples that are sold at shops here in Nigeria have been harvested before it gets ripe. This is because these fruits spend about a week before it gets to Nigeria. Few years ago, I saw an apple tree at a family friends home.
I was surprised and ask him how did it happen, he told me that he is an agriculturist and works at the state ministry of agriculture.
After a brief discussion with him, he hinted that the ministry of agriculture in Nigeria due orders ripen Apple fruits from South Africa in which when cultivated in the right environment produces rapidly.
Unlike the ones we buy at shops here which didn’t get ripe and therefore the seed is not yet matured before it was harvested and there’s no magic that can make the seeds germinate.
Through his help, I was able to get matured apple seedling from south Africa which I planted and it survived now am disapproving the belief about Apple tree not surviving in Nigeria because of temperature and some other facts.
Locations where Apple grows in Nigeria
Apples don’t grow in Africa talk more of Nigeria…I am sure you have hard this countless time. If you haven’t, I have and I am telling you. However, this is entirely not true. Accepted, we live in the tropics and bell apple is a temperate plant. But with a twist and doing the right thing, you can get apple to grow in Nigeria in places like the Jos Plateau, Kaduna, mambilla and the Obudu plateau.
Temperature factors that influence apple growth in Nigeria
Apples can grow in Nigeria and other tropical regions but not all apple varieties will yield fruit even after they might have succeeded in growing.
This is because most apple varieties require cold periods to begin fruiting (trying not to use technical jargon). However, varieties like Anna and Fuji do not require long cold periods or require higher temperatures to stimulate fruiting – temperatures that are reachable in Nigeria, temps in the 25°c region.
A client of mine just started an apple farm in Jos and we supplied about 150 bare-rooted trees purchased from Florida. Now temperatures in Florida don’t get as cold as in most other parts of the American and European continents and the Anna variety of apples does very well there.
The trees we planted yielded Apple that are encouraging and we are still expecting more and trying more varieties and techniques that can help in commercial yields.
One of the things that most places lacks in Nigeria to grow this fruit is the temperature; Apples strive only in cold environment and that is why they are a temperate plant. They grow at a very low temperature.
An apple plant requires a temperature of less than 7C for at least 6 weeks during the rainy season. This is why it grow in only places like the Jos Plateau. The ideal soil for an apple to grow is loamy soil with a pH of between 5.5 to 6.5.
Also note that Bell apples require adequate humidity and rainfall to thrive. It can tolerate different soil types from sandy to clay. It can also thrive in moderately acidic soil.
kind of Apple Specie that grows in Nigeria
Although no species of apple is indigenous to Nigeria, research shows that the type of apple that could be grown in large quantities in Nigeria is the Bell apple. This kind of apple is nutritious with both sweet and sour taste. This depends on the ripeness of the fruit. There are also mixed varieties of bell apple.
Queen, Anna and Fuji varieties also strives in Nigeria
How to plant apple in Nigeria
Here is a guide to start apple farming:
Get a matured apple seed and plant in a nursery bed, you might also plant it in a small container or in a small polythene bag and transplant it later to the soil after germination.
Plant in a good soil. But if your soil is sandy soil, dig the ground and add some loamy soil (just to make sure it survives and do well at early stage).
Do not try PLANTING ON A CLAY SOIL. Advisable if you plant during rainy season. Do not plant very close to a building or fence (it’s not a flower.)
The only thing is that they are very sensitive; you have to take care of them, you have to treat them when they are sick, you have to give them water, you also have to prune them.
Dry season comes with a lot of diseases and it really affects apple farming that One might plant 100 seedlings now, about 70 will germinate and like only 30 per cent of that will survive. You have to supply them water on regular basis, morning and evening.
That’s because of severe heat. But the rainy season is very conducive. You have less job to do but you have to weed them because if there are many weeds, it attracts insects which attacks the apples. Sometimes you have to fumigate against termites.
Bell apple specie is planted usually in January/April and requires rainfall of 115-120cm per year. During flooding, the excess water should be drained out quickly to prevent water-logging.
However, in the case of heavy rainfall, there’s no need for irrigation. The frequency of irrigation increases to 4 times a month during the summer and reduces to once a month during winter.
The seeds would need light to germinate. You have to press them gently into the soil with a space of 1 inch apart. Water the seeds and wait for about 3 weeks before it would start to germinate.
You can start selling the seedling 10 weeks after planting. Bell apple seedlings is also on demand because there few farmers in the country planting this kind of apple.
Also, training and pruning of the tree is needed. Pests can be controlled using pest resistant root stock. An apple orchard starts producing fruits at the 7th or 8th years and continues until it is about 35 years though some exceed this year.
Health benefits of Apple
- Apples helps fight heart diseases and lowers cholesterol.
- Apple contains an immunity booster antioxidant called quercetin
- Eating apples makes you look younger.
- Apples contain fiber that prevents overeating and helps fights excess weight gain.
- Research has shown that apples lower the risk of diabetes.
- Apples promotes brain health.
- The antioxidants in apples are also useful in preventing some types of cancers as well as alzheimer’s and parkinson’s disease.
- Apples helps fight against mouth odour.
- Apples is a good source of vitamin C that helps you fight against diseases.
Planting apples is highly lucrative and the fruit is in high demands. From statistics, about 50,000 tonnes of Apple are into annually into Nigeria so why not seize the opportunity and make yourself some money. Forget the lies, no White man injected anything into the fruit to prevent it from growing in Nigeria
The seed we use is just from the ones people throw away. If we are able to succeed in commercial farming, definitely it will be cheaper because the labour input is not too high. What will make it cheaper is when you get many people to develop an interest in it. Nigeria is a very large market. If this happens, the price will definitely come down. That’s what we are planning to do.
I am interested in apple commercialisation because the government is spending so much money on the importation. Shipping from South Africa is enormous. If we get many Nigerians, first to convince them that it can grow here and get them to develop interest and start planting, it will save a lot of money for Nigeria.