Farmers intensify summer crop planting
Precious Manomano-Herald Reporter
Farmers in rural and urban areas where soil moisture is reasonable after recent rains have intensified planting summer crops while other farmers are ready to plant in dryland areas in anticipation of heavy rains that are predicted by the Meteorological Services Department this week.
Some parts of the country such as Rusape and Macheke received heavy downpours last week while other parts received isolated showers.
Farmers are more confident that the summer cropping season will be productive despite rainfall likely to be normal to below normal as is characterised by the El Nino season.
A survey by The Herald indicates that most farmers are currently in fields busy planting while others have finished planting three weeks ago with the first rains.
Agricultural experts are encouraging farmers to work hand in glove with extension workers so that they get informed advice on planting, and especially when enough rain has fallen in their area.
“It depends with places so there is no blanket advice because places differ, so farmers should rely on technical advice. We have two extension workers in the ward so it is good to seek advice from them so that we don’t risk replanting.
“We are on the ground and we are seeing farmers planting but I urge you to get advice from these experts. Some farmers in Masvingo have planted with the first rains that was received around five weeks ago. The crop condition is not good and there is a probability that the crop will have to be replanted,’’ he said.
Zimbabwe Indigenous Women Farmers’ Association Trust president Mrs Depinah Nkomo said although farmers are planting, the situation is tricky because not all places have received enough rains to plant. It would be wise for farmers to stagger planting.
“Do not plant all your crops at the same time in case of eventualities. Yes, farmers are busy planting but its very hot and some of the areas here in Chegutu did not receive enough rains to plant but its unfortunate that farmers are planting in dryland. If we fail to get rains on time, we will lose the crop.
“This season farmers were well prepared, that’s why they embarked on planting without getting enough rains. This is a tricky season. Last year around 8 November we planted our early crop so farmers should analyse their areas first and check the amounts of rainfall they get in order to plant,’’ she said.
The onset of the rainfall season is when an area receives an amount of 20 millimetres or more of rainfall in about three days and there is no dry spell for the next 10 days.
Maize requires 22 millimetres and above to germinate, and for soya beans 30mm minimum and 35mm to be on the safe side.
Lands, Agriculture, Fisheries, Water and Rural Development Permanent Secretary Professor Obert Jiri said farmers can plant provided they get effective rains that are above 20mm.
Farmers need to take advantage of all the rain they do receive even if this is below normal.
The outlook for October this year to March next year is that for the October to December there will be increased chances of normal-to-below normal rainfall for most parts of the country except the greater part of Matabeleland North, parts of Bulawayo Metropolitan, parts of Midlands and parts of Mashonaland West which have increased chances of below normal-to-normal rainfall.