Source: Land preps begin . . . As farmers start dry planting | The Sunday News November 3, 2019
Mollet Ndebele and Sinokuthaba Dube, Farming Reporters
FARMERS, both commercial and rural have started preparations for this year’s planting season with some engaging in dry planting.
In an interview, Department of Crop and Livestock Matabeleland North provincial agronomist Mr Davison Masendeke said they are expecting rains within the next two weeks.
“The farming season is divided into two sub-sections which are October to December and January to March. In the first section the rainfall will be normal to above normal of the long-term average meaning the rains will be there. The second half of the season which is January to March it’s normal to below normal of the long-term average, therefore, there is no reason to panic at the moment because our season starts in November for most areas,” said Mr Masendeke.
He said some can now start dry planting so that the rains find the seed already in the soil.
“I advise farmers to plant on different portions of land, they can dry plant half of the land and then the other half they can plant it after two weeks when the rains come but they should not go too much into December so that crops mature within the season.
“We also encourage farmers to dwell more on small grain crops, not oil seed, because oil seed degenerates and that affects the seed viability,” said Mr Masendeke.
Matabeleland South provincial agronomist Mr Innocent Nyathi said farmers in the province should gravitate towards small grains as they prepare for the farming season.
“We might be frightened about the climate change situation that has affected us as a nation but it is not a major alarm as weather experts said we should expect above normal rainfall. That is why we are advising our farmers to grow early maturing varieties especially those who want to grow maize,” said Mr Nyathi.
Meteorological Services Department (MSD) director Mr Tichaona Zinyemba warned farmers that while it is ideal to do dry planting it has to be done at appropriate depth depending on soil types.
“If the seed is planted at shallow levels, the risk is that the showers that may come may result in some moisture reaching that seed and therefore, will start the germination process. However, if the moisture levels are insufficient, the seed will then rot and hence fail to germinate. This will then mean a loss on the part of the farmer in that they have to replant. The other factor to consider is that we are in November now and traditionally our season starts to be consistent from the middle of the month onwards,” said Mr Zinyemba.
He added that October is generally made up of erratic rains.
“Presently some parts of Matabeleland provinces are receiving light thunderstorms but the point that is clear is that we have not experienced effective rains to date. We will continue to monitor the situation,” said Mr Zinyemba.