Farming season begins

Phillipa Jaja

The Meteorological Services Department (MSD) head forecaster James Ngoma has advised farmers who live in areas which have received adequate rains to start planting by.

Ngoma’s advice comes in the wake of the consistent rains that have been received in most parts of the country recently.

“For areas that have received meaningful rainfall, such as those in the southern and western part of the country may plant.” 

He however stressed the need for advisory services from Agritex officers

“… based on the area specific conditions, rainfalls received, type of soils, type of farming practice, pfumvudza/intwasa, type of crop etc. For more details on these please consult your local Agritex officers.”

Dr Xavier Mhike, a maize breeder, said farmers that had received more than 30 millilitres of rain within a period of 72 hours could safely start planting cereal crops.

“This is the ideal rainfall for all soil types and every farming method since there will be enough moisture for germination to take place. Thirty millilitres of rainfall are enough to moisten the soil even when there has been run off induced by dry surfaces resulting from the dry spell that we are coming out of. Therefore, farmers that live in Harare and other peri-urban areas where the rain received is sufficient should start planting,” he said.

He, however, noted that planting right now was area specific as there were some areas that had not received even a drop of rain or very little of it, adding that  farmers that live in such areas should wait for the right conditions to prevail to save themselves stress.

“We cannot put a blanket cover on the planting issue and tell everyone to start doing so now as we will be hamstrung at the end of the day when crops do not germinate well and there are lower yields at the end of the farming season,” he said.

 He said the planting window period for maize was still open.

“People should not rush to plant under constraining conditions like insufficient rainfall since the planting window period is still very much open. There is still a whole month for them to plant, beginning 15 November to 15 December, hence they will not lose out on anything.

“All maize varieties are still ideal for now however early maturing varieties will be recommended for those that plant after December. Other crops to plant after the planting window period include soya beans and sorghum. ”

He also advised farmers to start planting ground nuts and nuts now as they flower early and are ideal for most soil types.

Dr Mhike further recommended early planting in September or October for heavier types of soils such as clay.

Farmers across the country have intensified land preparations with many relying on the Presidential inputs Scheme known as Pfumvudza/Intwasa due to the high prices of inputs.

A 10kg Seedco maize seed is going for US$30-35 at most wholesale shops in town while the price range for  Compound C  and Compound D fertiliser is US$45-50.

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