11 December 2018

Zimbabwe: Heavy Rains Time to Plant, Farmers Told

The Meteorological Services Department (MSD) yesterday said the skies should start clearing tomorrow after heavy rains and thunderstorms that were experienced in most parts of the country over the weekend. This comes as farmers have been urged to take advantage of the recent rains to intensify planting of summer crops and land preparations.

In a statement yesterday, the MSD said the skies were expected to start clearing in Matabeleland, Midlands and Masvingo provinces.

"Thunderstorms were recorded almost countrywide though generally light, significant falls were recorded at Beitbridge (54 millimetres), Chinhoyi Met Station (42 mm), Hwange (45mm), Chinhoyi central business district (32mm) and Kariba (25mm).

"Heavier downpours were mostly confined to Mashonaland West, Matabeleland South and Matabeleland North," said MSD.

Today, the MSD says it will be mostly cloudy, windy and slightly cooler than of late with scattered thundershowers and overnight rain in Harare, Manicaland and Mashonaland East and Central.

In Mashonaland West, Matabeleland North, Matabeleland South, Midlands and Masvingo, it is expected to be windy and mild with intermittent sunny breaks. Isolated showers remain a potential.

Farmers have been urged to take advantage of the recent rains to intensify planting of summer crops and land preparations. Some farmers had planted early, while others had delayed planting due to late rains.

Federation of Farmers' Unions chairman Mr Wonder Chabikwa welcomed the recent rains saying that they had resulted in an increase in activity on the ground.

"We are now urging all farmers to take advantage of the recent rains to intensify planting and land preparations. We have had late rains and some farmers had delayed planting cotton as they were waiting for significant rains.

"Some farmers who grow tobacco had also suspended transplanting of the dryland crop but I am sure they have resumed planting. They should intensify planting before the window closes. The tobacco crop that was transplanted early September is doing well," he said.

"The first leaves of the crop transplanted early are showing signs of ripening. Farmers will soon start reaping the early crop in two to three weeks' time. The countryside is now greener and there is stock watering," he said.

Seed Co Zimbabwe agronomy and extension services manager Mr John Basera said farmers should utilise the available moisture to plant their maize and soyabean crops.

"The current rains are for serious planting and farmers should utilise them.

"Farmers should ensure they attain optimum plant population levels of 37 000 to 44 000 plants per hectare of maize in low rainfall potential areas and 50 000 to 60 000 in high potential areas. In terms of soyabean, farmers should target 350 000 to 500 000 plants per hectare to achieve better yields," he said.

Mr Basera urged farmers to ensure their fields were weed free during the first 10-12 weeks as this stage was critical and could affect yields.

"The use of pre-emergence herbicides is recommended. Pre-emergence herbicides must be sprayed within two to three days after planting and at recommended rates. This normally ensures a weed-free crop in the first 40 or so days after emergence and a crop will have a very good head start, and yields more," he said.

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