Chive (Allium schoenoprasum) is a perennial herb in the family Liliaceae, grown for its leaves which are used as culinary herbs. The leaves of the plant are tapering, hollow and cylindrical and have a soft texture.
This plant is a member of the onion family and forms small bulbs from the roots.
It grows in clumps and produces large pale purple flowers in a dense clusters of about 10–30 individual inflorescences. Chives grow to approximately 46 cm in height and can live for many years in favorable conditions.
The crop is easy to grow, however, it requires observance of good agricultural practices and traceability.
Chives are cool-season, cold-tolerant perennials which require a temperature range of between 15-30 degrees centigrade. They are frost hardy, but they grow very slowly in cold temperatures.
The plants perform best in a well-draining soil, rich in organic matter with a pH of 6-7 and should be positioned in full sunlight. They can also tolerate partial shade.
Chives can be grown directly from seed or new plants can be produced by dividing an established plant.
Starting from seeds
Seeds are first planted in a well prepared nursery to a depth of 1.3 cm.
They are slow to germinate, and begin emerging after about 7 days.
The seedlings however develop quickly and are ready to be transplanted when they are about 4 weeks old and after they have been hardened.
The established plants should first be watered, a few hours before dividing in order to soften the soil and ensure the plants are turgid.
Individual groups of plants and plant to take 3-4 of these together to form a new clump should first be identified.
Chives are then cut back to a height of approximately 10 cm and the existing plant is carefully extracted from the soil.
Break the clump by dropping the plant from a gentle height to break it apart into separate plants.
If chives are grown from seeds, seedlings are ready for transplanting about 4 weeks later. Individual plants or seedlings should be planted 20-30 cm apart.
Divided plants should be planted about 1.25 cm deeper than they were previously.
Mulching– chives benefit from the application of a layer of mulch, which helps to conserve soil moisture and suppress weeds. The mulch also releases nutrients into the soil on decomposition.
Irrigation- chive plants require moderate watering. Soil should be allowed to go almost dry between watering, then soak thoroughly. Plants should not be overwatered. Regular watering produces larger, more succulent leaves
Weeding– the garden should be kept weed-free in order to avoid the losses related to weed infestation, as they compete with the crop for growth factors.
When plants flower, the flower head should be removed when it starts to dry out and die in order to divert energy to the production of leaves. The seeds are also usually very fertile and can aggressively self-sow themselves.
PESTS & DISEASE MANAGEMENT
Thrips– these feed by sucking the plant sap and infestation leads to discolored, distorted tissue and scarring of leaves. The severely attacked plants may have a silvery appearance.
Spray ALONZE 50EC 5ml/20l or PROFILE 440EC 30ml/20l or DEFENDER 25EC 40ml/20l
Aphids– these suck the plants sap causing the leaves to curl and become distorted. They excrete honeydew which facilitates the development of sooty mold.
Spray KINGCODE ELITE 50EC 10ml/20l or PRESENTO 200SP 5g/20l or LEXUS 247SC 8ml/20l
Cutworms– they cut the stems of young transplants or seedlings at soil level.
Dress seeds with SHIELD 600FS 3ml/kg
Drench soil with PROFILE 440EC 60ml/20l or PENTAGON 50EC 20ml/20l
Damping off– seeds become water-soaked, mushy and decompose thus failing to emerge, while the infected roots turn gray and water-soaked. Seedlings that have already emerged prior to infection collapse and die and the older plants become severely stunted
Drench soil with PYRAMID 700WP 100g/20l
Spray CHANCETYL ELITE 800WDG 50g/20l or MILLIONAIRE 690WDG 40g/20l
Pink root– symptoms due to infection are light pink roots which darken and turn purple, roots become transparent and water soaked and the entire plant may look like it has a nutrient deficiency. Infected seedling may die while the stunted plants develop shriveled bulbs
Drench soil with PYRAMID 700WP 10g/20l or GEARLOCK TURBO 250WP 50g/20l
Downy mildew– infection leads to development of pale spots or elongated patches on leaves and gray-purple fuzzy growth on leaf surface. The leaves turn pale then yellow and the leaf tips eventually collapse.
Spray GEARLOCK TURBO 250WP 25g/20l or TOWER 720WP 50g/20l or FORTRESS GOLD 720WP 40g/20l
NUTRITION & NUTRITIONAL DEFICIENCIES
A proper nutrition is very important for optimal production. This entails both macro and micronutrients, which are provided to the crop through basal and foliar fertilizer applications.
Basal fertilizers are absorbed by the crop majorly through the roots, e.g. DAP, CAN while foliar fertilizers are taken up by the crop through its foliage, e.g. GOLDCHANCE, LAVENDER, OPTIMIZER, among others.
These fertilizers should be applies at the right time and at the recommended rates for best results.
Nutrients deficient crops are weak and susceptible to infections.
The older leaves turn yellow, while the remaining foliage is often light green. Crop growth is relatively slowed.
Correction; use GOLDCHANCE SUPER GROWTH 50g/20l or LAVENDER 20ml/20l
The younger leaves may become reddish-purple, leaf tips appear burnt and older leaves become almost black. Stunted growth occurs.
Correction; use GOLDCHANCE SUPER START 50g/20l or LAVENDER 20ml/20l or PLANT SOUL 20ml/20l or LEGENDARY 40ml/20l or DIMIPHITE 10ml/20l or GREENPHITE 50ml/20l
The older leaves appear scorched around the edges and/or wilted. Yellowing between the leaf veins develops as deficiency continues.
Correction; use GOLDCHANCE SUPER FLOWERS & FRUITS 50g/20l or DIMIPHITE 10ml/20l or GREENPHITE 50ml/20l or LEGENDARY 40ml/20l
The most common symptom starts out as an interveinal chlorosis of the youngest leaves, and later into an overall chlorosis, and this ends as a totally bleached leaf. The bleached areas often develop necrotic spots.
Correction; use PORTEGE GOLD FE 6% or EURO GOLD PLUS or MICRO GOLD 11% DTPA
This causes yellowing between veins of new growth (interveinal chlorosis). Terminal leaves may form a rosette.
Correction; use ZINC GOLD 10ml/20l
- Whenever doing foliar sprays, it is advisable to mix the product (insecticide, fungicide, foliar fertilizer or herbicide) with INTEGRA 3ml/20l. This is a sticker, spreader, wetter and penetrant, which improves the efficacy of the respective product.
- Alternation of various chemicals, especially fungicides and insecticides throughout a crop’s season help in preventing resistance build-up by the pest.
- All basal fertilizers and manure should be mixed with HUMIPOWER, which is an excellent soil amendment and fertilizer blend.
- Post-harvest interval (PHI) of chemicals used should be observed accordingly.
MATURITY, HARVESTING & POST-HARVEST HANDLING
Harvesting chives can begin about 12 weeks after planting the seeds or when established plants have resumed their growth. This is usually when the plants are about 6 inches tall.
Chives are harvested throughout the season to prevent the leaves from becoming tough and to encourage formation of new bulb lets. This is achieved by simply snipping off the leaves with a pair of scissors leaving about 3 cm of green on the plant.
Flowers can also be harvested for use as an edible garnish.
Harvesting should begin from the outside leaves inwards as required.