Pixie fruit is a fleshy, easy to peel and highly nutritious citrus fruit. The crop has been gaining popularity in Kenya with the market extending to the Eastern and Coastal region such as Machakos, Kitui and Voi. The yellow-orange fruit is often mistaken for a normal orange, but the rare fruits yield more profit.

Climatic conditions necessary for pixie farming

Pixie oranges are a subtropical crop that requires specific growing conditions to thrive. Some of the ideal growing conditions for pixie oranges in Kenya include:

  1. Climate: Pixie oranges require a warm climate with moderate humidity. They are best suited for areas with an average annual temperature of 20-28°C.
  2. Soil: Pixie oranges grow well in well-drained soils that are rich in organic matter. The ideal pH range for pixie orange trees is between 5.5 and 7.5.
  3. Water: Pixie oranges require regular watering, especially during the dry season. Irrigation is essential to ensure that the trees receive enough water.
  4. Sunlight: Pixie orange trees require full sunlight to produce a high yield of fruit. Farmers should ensure that the trees are planted in an area that receives plenty of sunlight throughout the day.

Below are steps farmers should follow when starting the pixie orange farming journey!

Step 1: Land preparation

The first step towards a successful pixie farming is land preparation. This includes; Clearing of land, Ploughing and levelling. The farmer should ensure that all debris and unwanted vegetation are removed. After this the farmer should take the next step of Soil Testing.

Step 2: Soil Testing

This is one of the most important steps that a farmer should never skip. This is because soil testing will help you understand the nutrients which are present and absent in the soil. This will help both smallholder and large-scale growers to devise effective manuring and fertilizer application programs. Besides, it will help farmers determine whether the pH is suitable for fruit production or it needs to be adjusted. Also, soil testing will help the growers to understand the soil’s ability to resist diseases and any soil-borne diseases that are likely to occur.

Step 3: Planting

Farmers should ensure that they purchase high-quality pixie orange seedlings from a reputable source. The seedlings should be planted in well-prepared soil that is free of weeds and other debris. When planting, dig a hole that is 2mx2mx2m, mix the top soil with well-rotted manure and back fill the hole with the soil. Then plant your seedlings and irrigate.

Pixie orange trees grow to a height of 4 meters and spread to a radius of 3m. Therefore the recommended spacing for pixie is 4 by 4 meters. With this spacing, you can plant 250 high yielding trees in one acre. 

Step 4: Irrigation

Pixie oranges require regular watering to thrive. The cost of irrigation will depend on the method used, such as drip irrigation or overhead sprinklers. The estimated cost of irrigation may vary with huge cost differences depending on the method.

Drip irrigation is regarded as the most efficient and economical way to water pixie oranges. Drip irrigation is 95% efficient because it allows plants to use all the water applied.  It also reduces water wastage through runoff and evaporation allowing a good proportion of water applied to be used. This method of irrigation applies the water slowly at the plant root zone where it is actually required.

Step 5: Fertilization

Seedlings will respond well to organic fertilizer, blooming after two and a half years of planting. Pixie orange trees require sufficient supply of fertilizer and manure for normal growth development. The amount of fertilizer to be applied will generally depend on the fertility of the soil in question. At least 20kg (1 bucket) of well-rotted farmyard manure or compost should be applied per tree per year as well as a handful of rock phosphate. On acid soils 1-2kg of agricultural lime can be applied per tree spread evenly over the soil covering the root system. Nitrogen can be supplied by intercropping pixie orange trees with legume crops and incorporating the plant material into the soil once a year. Mature trees need much more compost, well-rotted manure than young trees to cater for more fruit production.

Step 6: Pests and Disease control

There are many orange tree diseases caused by bacteria, mycoplasma, fungi and viruses. The organic citrus disease management consists in a 3-step system:

  • Use of disease-free planting material to avoid disease problems
  • Choosing rootstocks and cultivars that are tolerant or resistant to prevalent diseases
  • Application of fungicides such as copper, sulfur, clay powder and fennel oil. Copper can control several disease problems. However, it must not be forgotten that high Copper accumulations in the soil is toxic for soil microbial life and reduces the cation exchange capacity.

Step 7: Pruning

Prune and train your pixie citrus trees: Proper pruning and training is essential for the growth and productivity of your pixie citrus trees. To prune your trees, remove any dead or diseased branches and shape the trees to a desirable form.

Step 8: Harvest 

Pixie oranges are ready for harvesting when the fruit has turned a bright orange color and is firm to the touch. Farmers should use a sharp knife or pruning shears to cut the fruit from the tree, being careful not to damage the fruit or the tree. The trees begin to flower in the second year and can produce few fruits in each tree and maturity is attained at around 2 to 3 years. Heavy harvest is often experienced in the fourth year. The yield of pixie orange depends on many factors like soil type, climatic conditions and orchard management practices .Each tree produces an average of 60 kg of fruit per season with a kilo going from Sh 120 in the market. The fruits should be harvested when they are fully ripe and attain proper size, attractive color and acceptable sugar: acid ratio. Mature fruits can be picked in 2 to 3 cycles.

Benefits of Growing Pixie Oranges in Kenya

Pixie oranges are a high-value crop that can provide numerous benefits to Kenyan farmers. Some of the benefits of growing pixie oranges in Kenya include:

  1. High Demand: Pixie oranges are in high demand both domestically and internationally due to their unique taste and nutritional value. This makes them a valuable crop for farmers who are looking to earn a good income.
  2. High Yield: Pixie orange trees are known for their high yield, which means that farmers can harvest a large quantity of oranges from a relatively small area of land.
  3. Easy-to-peel: Pixie oranges have a thin and easy-to-peel skin, which makes them popular among consumers who are looking for a quick and easy snack.
  4. Nutritional Value: Pixie oranges are rich in vitamins and minerals, including vitamin C, folate, and potassium. This makes them a healthy snack for consumers.


Pixie orange farming in Kenya is one form of agribusiness that has picked up pace faster than any other. The reasons for this are obvious; it is highly profitable. The market factors are also in favour of pixie farming. Currently the demand for these juicy fruits is so high because of their higher quality and sweetness compared to other varieties of oranges. On the other hand, supply is still very low as most farmers discovered this variety just the other day. That explains why the prices of pixie are still so high even in our local supermarkets. We are yet to satisfy the local market while the export market still yarns for the same product.


2 comments on “Pixie Orange Farming: A Step-by- Step Manual On Pixie Farming From Planting To Harvesting

  1. Would like start a pixie farming.Resident of machakos county masinga sub county.How do I start with your assistance?

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