GOVERNMENT has advised farmers that the planting window for major crops such as maize, traditional grains, cotton, tobacco, soya-beans and groundnuts is over.In an interview with NewsDay last week, Lands and Agriculture acting director for crop production Leonard Munamati said farmers should plant drought tolerant crops since the planting season was now over.

He said farmers in the lowveld including Chiredzi and Muzarabani, who have access to irrigation facilities, could continue planting.

“So the reason why we are saying this is because the heat unit is a very important determinant of yields in plant production and when it becomes colder, the crop will not be able to accumulate enough heat units that are required to produce good yields. Our temperatures are starting to go down, so we are no longer encouraging our farmers to plant,” he said.Munamati said the planting season for major crops is affected by a number of factors.

“For crops like soybeans, another important factor is the photoperiod, like, how long do we have light, that is very important because already we can see that the day length starts to become less and less.

“And as the length of the day becomes shorter the yield of soya beans is also affected and reduces drastically. Crops like tobacco are actually governed by regulations and this year the government had extended the seedbed destruction to January 15, 2024 and we are already past that and it has since expired so the planting window is definitely over,” Munamati said.

He encouraged farmers to shift focus to agronomic practices to ensure good yields and prepare for winter planting.

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“We are encouraging farmers to shift their focus to best agronomic practices, control of weeds and pests and also making sure that they conserve moisture.“For those who will be going into winter planting with irrigation, they should start looking into land preparations for winter season, especially those who will be doing wheat and horticulture crops. This is now where the focus should go,” Munamati said.

He said the government had already started crop and livestock assessment to establish what had been planted across all provinces.