Wimbainashe Zhakata Post Correspondent
FARMERS in Manicaland have been urged to plant short season seeds varieties and embrace conservation agriculture (CA) which preserves soil moisture as the 2018/19 seasonal rain forecast points to El Nino-induced below normal rains.
The 2018/19 seasonal rainfall forecast presented at the National Climate Outlook Forum this week revealed that the season will be negatively affected by El Nino and urged farmers to plan adequately and make informed decisions.
“The 2018/19 rainfall season is pointing towards an El Nino phase. El Nino is associated with above average warming of the sea surface temperatures of the Pacific Ocean and in most years is usually associated with reduced rainfall activity over the sub region.
“We are informed by science that approximately 62 percent of El Nino phases have resulted in below normal rainfall in Zimbabwe leaving us with less than 40 percent chance of good rains during this coming season. Researchers have found out that not all El Nino years will result in drought,” said Ambassador Grace Mutandiro.
Manicaland provincial agronomist Mr Thomas Sakuhuni encouraged farmers throughout the province to do three plantings during the next cropping season to get better yields.
“Farmers need to prepare in order to survive this challenge because there will be reduced soil water recharge and as such they need to buy seed varieties that are drought tolerant.
“In regions that used to grow long season seed varieties they need to look at medium to short season varieties. They also need to stagger their planting and we encourage them to do three plantings this season.
“The three plantings consist of one early planting (October to November), mid planting (mid December) and the last planting (end of December), depending on when the first rains are received,” said Mr Sakuhuni.
Manicaland is likely to experience the late start of the rainy season, more mid season drought and dry spell especially in natural region one, two and three which receives about 1200 ml of rainfall per year.
He added that severe drought was likely to be experienced in natural region four and five to, where farmers need to practices CA to conserve moisture.
During land preparations farmers are being encouraged to use the ripper technique or other soil conservation methods like minimum tillage.
The ripper technique is used to break sub soil and creates a dam of water in the field.
Mr Sakuhuni said the province was more likely to experience occurrence of storms, hail stones and windy storms.
The problematic fall armyworm is likely to be experienced.
“Activity of pests in the dry lands may occur and farmers are urged to be on the lookout of all types of pests in order to save their crops,” he said.
El Nino is the phenomenon that gives rise to changes in the patterns of trade winds across the Pacific Ocean, which can cause unusual warming in ocean temperatures and a myriad of drastic weather changes in specific regions around the globe.
It also results in a hotter average temperature for the whole planet by about 0.1 to 0.2 degrees, because the associated change in winds lead to the release of heat from the ocean to the atmosphere.