THE Tobacco Research Board (TRB) says water testing before use is critical in the production of seedlings for the golden leaf.
TRB soil scientist Dadirai Chinamo said water was an essential resource for crop production because it did not only provide the necessary hydration for the plants, but served as a carrier for nutrients and agrochemicals.
She, however, added that not all water sources were suitable for irrigation purposes as water quality could vary greatly, depending on its origin and treatment method.
“Ultimately, testing water before using it for seedling production is the best way to avoid producing poor-quality seedlings,” she said.
“By taking the time to collect and test water samples, growers can ensure optimal growth conditions for successful seedling production.”
She said using poor-quality water in seedling production could pose a variety of problems that included excess accumulation of soluble salts in the seedling growing media or seedling salt injury.
On Monday, Treasury reported that during the first quarter of the year, the area planted under tobacco increased by 19% to 131 656 hectare (ha) compared to 110 770 ha planted during the 2021/22 season.
During the same period last year, cumulative tobacco deliveries were 38,5 million kg at an average price of US$2,91/kg delivered in 2022.
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The increase was partly attributed to early commencement of the season in some parts of the country compared to the previous season.
“In terms of marketing, the auction floors were opened on March 8, 2023 with deliveries of 48 938 kg at an average price of US$2,56/kg,” Treasury said, in its first quarter update released on Monday.
“The crop delivered on the first day was, however, lower compared to the 94 453 kg delivered on the first day in 2022 at an average price of US$2,58/kg.”
Chinamo said to ensure water was suitable for successful seedling production, the first step for every grower is to have their water tested at a reputable laboratory.
“Once test results are obtained, correct interpretation is key, proper interpretation of water test results enables growers to make any necessary adjustments for optimal seedling production, ensuring that an ideal environment is created for healthy plants,” she said.
“Growers should follow treatment recommendations provided in the analysis report which are often physical or chemical water treatments. In extreme cases, a water source may be deemed unsuitable for irrigation and so its use may have to be discontinued.
“In this case the grower should investigate the possibility of using a different water source or alternatively mixing two different water sources. The qualityof water used in seedling production must be carefully managed to minimise these risks and maximise returns on investment in crop production.”
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