Elita Chikwati Harare Bureau
Farmers have intensified their preparations as a result of the rains falling in most parts of the country.
The Meteorological Services Department (MSD) last week advised the public that the country would experience heavy rains in excess of 50mm which were expected to intensify yesterday and last until next week.
Heavy rains and flash floods are expected along the main watershed and in Manicaland.
Yesterday, most farmers in different areas were busy with farm operations. Some farmers took advantage of the available moisture and wet conditions to carry out land preparations while others who had planted with the November rains were replanting.
Other farmers were planting and a few were weeding and applying fertiliser.
Some urban farmers said although the experts had predicted normal to below normal rainfall, they were continuing with farm operations and were hopeful to get meaningful harvests at the end of the season.
Emily Gukuta of Sunningdale said this season was different from other seasons.
“I planted with the first rains and some of the plants were affected by the hot and dry weather. I am filling the gaps and I trust that I will get something at the end of the season,” she said.
Retreat farmer, Simbarashe Tirivangani said he staggered the planting dates to spread the risk.
“This season I didn’t plant on the same day. I planted some areas with the first rains and now I’m preparing land so that I can plant. It’s better to have different stages so that if the other batch fails I will still have a harvest.
“Farmers have faith. We always plant every season even if experts predict a drought and we have faith that we will harvest,” he said.
Another farmer in Retreat, Talent Guwa said he planted mid November and the maize crop was not affected by the rains because he had deep ploughed.
“Deep ploughing conserves moisture so even if the rains stop it will take long for the crop to suffer from moisture stress,” he said.
Guwa said the 2015/16 summer cropping season was tricky and farmers needed to be careful when undertaking operations such as weeding and fertiliser application.
“Farmers should be careful when applying fertiliser to reduce losses. We could not weed during the past days because it was too hot. The maize crop would have been exposed to the hot conditions,” he said.
The MSD said this season was expected to be shorter than normal and this limited the growing season.
Normally Zimbabwe experiences a mid-season dry spell from January into February. If the mid-season dry spell occurs around the same time during this season and given the delayed start of the season and the likelihood of an early cessation in most areas this may further compromise moisture availability and thereby affecting crop growth and development.