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Region to get more rains in next 3 weeks

The Southern African rainfall forecast for December-February has experts predicting normal to above normal rainfall for the next three weeks.

The experts have said there will be need for farmers to be active in pest, disease and weed control as well as fertiliser management.

A report released by the Government, in consultation with local and regional experts, says forecasts for Southern Africa indicate that there are increased chances of normal to above-normal rainfall from December 2023 to February 2024 encouraging farmers to use meteorological advice on climate to mitigate risks associated with weather conditions.

Farmers who planted in October and November should have already done their first round of fertiliser application during the early growth stages to support root development and early plant growth.

Due to the heavy rains experienced in the last week of December and the first week of January, farmers should consider a second top dressing application.

“Organic and inorganic fertilisers are crucial for field crops as they are a primary component of chlorophyll essential for photosynthesis. It promotes robust plant growth, enhances vegetative development, and contributes to the formation of proteins, enzymes, and genetic material. 

“Top-dressing fertilisers for crops like maize and sorghum work best when applied at the correct crop growth stage and the recommended rate. The recommended rate should be based on soil sampling results and crop requirements. 

“Farmers should consult extension officers on crop fertiliser requirements in the absence of soil results. An important consideration is the level of soil moisture,” reads the reports.

With heavy rains likely, farmers needed to adjust application rates to prevent nutrient leaching.

“General recommendation for October to November planting farmers are advised to apply the second half of ammonium nitrate fertiliser (150- 250 kg/ha) and CAN (150-250kg per ha) to moist soil. 

“If manure or a basal fertiliser has been applied recently, rates can be reduced. Place fertiliser 5-10cm from the plant to avoid burn. For farmers that planted the second and third week of December, employ the split application, starting with a modest amount and adjusting according to crop growth and weather patterns,” experts said.

In transitioning into January the breeding season of pests, including the maize stem borer and African and fall armyworm also intensifies.

 Effective pest and disease management is critical for farmers who planted in mid-November during dry, hot conditions and in December under cool, wet conditions.

Delayed planting increases the overlap of the breeding season with the vulnerable crop stage, heightening susceptibility. 

Farmers had to enhance pest and disease management efforts and increase scouting activities, potentially conducting inspections three times a week instead of the usual two.

Farmers should plant short-season varieties as the season advanced.

Farmers should also opt for small grain or traditional cereals and legumes such as sweet potatoes, sorghum, millet, cowpea and groundnut, as they exhibit great drought resilience and are nutrient-dense.

Crop selection and diversification should also ensure an adequate supply of nutritious food for the household.

Herald

*Positive Eye News*

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