Wimbainashe Zhakata Post Correspondent
WHEAT farmers in Manicaland have been urged to manage their irrigation schedules properly for better yields this year.
Manicaland provincial agronomist Mr Thomas Sakuhuni said this recently in an interview with The Herald.
He said: “Eighty-five percent of wheat in Manicaland is at hard dough to drying stage hence farmers are advised to manage their irrigation cycles very well to avoid spoiling a potentially a very good crop.”
Mr Sakuhuni also encouraged farmers to apply irrigation water to their fields with the objective of promoting and maintaining high grain quality.
“To produce grain of high quality, irrigation must be applied to the point when the crop is showing signs of having reached physiological maturity.
“The grain at physiological maturity will not shrivel if irrigation stops at that point but if the farmer stops irrigation when the crop is not yet mature, it will shrivel,” he said.
He added that farmers therefore must stop irrigation when the wheat ears and flag leaves have turned yellow or when the field shows 50 percent yellow.
“Any irrigation beyond this point may result in weeds growing especially where plant population is poor and this will spoil the harvesting process and grain quality,” he said.
Mr Sakuhuni said the 85 percent wheat in Manicaland that is at hard dough to drying stage was the early planted while the late planted formed the remaining 15 percent that is at soft, hard dough stage.
He also urged farmers to be wary of quelea birds because they attack the grain at this stage.
Farmers are advised to report any problems concerning quelea birds to the nearest Agritex offices and the department of National Parks so that control can be effected.
“Last year, quelea birds wreaked untold havoc on the winter crop, which led to a decrease in the hectarage put under wheat in Manicaland.
“Spraying might, however, help exterminate the birds and save the crop from total destruction, which would also ensure food security,” said Mr Sakuhuni.