Zimbabwe: Early Rains Threaten Late Wheat


Late planted wheat is under threat from early rains and farmers have been urged to speed up harvesting to avoid losses. Some farmers with an early crop have extended their harvesting schedules to ensure they remove the crop before the expected heavy rains. Zimbabwe Farmers' Union director Mr Paul Zakariya on Tuesday told The Herald that wheat harvesting was in full swing in most parts of the country.

"With the onset of the rains, farmers are encouraged to speed up harvesting and avoid losses. In all things to do with agriculture, farmers are advised to be on time and work with local experts who will give advice on the spot, said Mr Zakariya.

Zimbabwe Commercial Farmers' Union president Mr Wonder Chabikwa said rains would compromise quality of wheat and the crop could germinate. "The wheat will no longer be suitable for manufacturing flour, but will be used for feeding livestock," he said. Mr Chabikwa said farmers should finish harvesting wheat by mid October.

"We have always advised wheat farmers to stick to planting deadlines. Farmers should not plant beyond May 25 if they want to get high yields. If wheat is planted timely, farmers will start harvesting mid-September and will finish by end of September, he said. Mr Chabikwa said about 60 000 tonnes of wheat were expected this season and said productivity improved due to constant power supplies. "We are expecting an average of five tonnes per hectare up from around three tonnes per hectare," he said.

Zimbabwe requires 400 000 tonnes of wheat per annum. The country imports an average of 185 000 tonnes of wheat every year to complement national production. Wheat production for the 2015 winter season stood at 61 261 tonnes. The general trends indicate that there has been a steady decline in the area put under wheat since 2008.


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