Meteorological Department allays wheat farmers’ fears

Wheat

THE Meteorological Services Department (MSD) has allayed the fears of wheat farmers who were in panic mode following the heavy rains that pounded the country yesterday and last week, which threatened the unharvested crop.

The farmers will have to speed up harvesting to avert potential losses from moisture absorption on the dry crop and ensure the country achieves the targeted bumper harvest this year.

The Meteorological Services Department, however, said the recent showers do not signal the start of the rainy season and discouraged farmers from planting unless under irrigation.

“We expect the weather to clear soon so wheat farmers may expect a better assessment of the crop,” it said in a statement.

“Unless a farmer has access to drying facilities, no harvesting is advisable until the moisture content is in the acceptable range.”

In the Midlands province, heavy rains that have recently been pounding most districts have left some winter wheat farmers in a state of panic.

Agronomist, Mr Ronnie Chigombe, said the early rains were received in areas such as Gweru, Kwekwe, and other areas, thereby threatening to affect some of the ready-to-harvest winter wheat.

“The rains received are a challenge for wheat farmers. Our advice is for the farmers to look at the moisture content of their crops. They need to check if it’s at 12.5 percent moisture content that is needed,” he said. 

“If it’s less, they should go ahead and harvest once it stops raining. If it’s not, they should wait until it’s sunny.

“When it rains it now becomes a challenge and therefore the need to learn and understand the time of planting. Those who have harvested, planted their wheat on time and we need that so that our crop is not affected by rains,” said Mr Chingombe. While Matabeleland North is yet to receive meaningful rains, the hailstorm that hit Bulawayo and Matabeleland South on Monday also affected farming areas, especially wheat farmers in Bubi and Umguza. Wheat was almost ready for harvesting and authorities say an assessment is being carried out to establish the extent of the impact.

“We did have some storms in Bubi and we still have wheat on the ground that was ready for harvesting. A thorough assessment will be done in the next two to three days,” said acting director for Agricultural Advisory and Rural Development Services in the Ministry of Lands, Mr Dumisani Nyoni.

Matabeleland North Provincial Affairs and Devolution Minister Richard Moyo who is also a farmer in Umguza said the rains will affect the moisture content of wheat, which would need to dry up before it is harvested.

Chronicle

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