Agro-prenuer

Agriculture consultant

05/10/2023

Thursday Gem squash is edible at all stages of its growth. Early gems are the size of golf balls, and the skin, flesh and seeds are edible. As this vegetable matures, the skin hardens to protect the flesh within making the skin inedible. Agriculture FarmBoy AgriLife
Country Horizon Pvt
Emmanuel Zaat

28/09/2023

Baby marrow/ Zucchini/ courgette plants have a shallow root systems so they need lots of water once they start growing. You should always water at the base of the plant as the leaves tend to develop fungal diseases if they are constantly wet. Left on the stem, baby marrows can grow up to 50cm in length. However, the longer they are left to grow, the fewer vegetables a single plant will produce. To ensure a regular harvest, pick the marrows when they are about the length of your finger.
FarmBoy AgriLife
Country Horizon Pvt
Emmanuel Zaat
Agro Expert & Visionary Entreprenuers
Bulawayo Entrepreneurs

27/09/2023

Radishes are best sowed directly in the soil so as not to disturb their roots. They are a fast growing crop which usually start germinating in 5 – 8 days and can be harvested 3 – 6 weeks later depending on moisture levels. The soil for radishes should be thoroughly prepared making sure there are no clods to interfere with root development. The soil should not contain any undecomposed organic matter as this may result in forked or misshapen roots. Agriculture


FarmBoy AgriLife
Emmanuel Zaat
Country Horizon Pvt

27/09/2023

Cabbage will ready soon
FarmBoy AgriLife
Agro Expert & Visionary Entreprenuers

10/01/2023

Botanically, fruits and vegetables are classified depending on which part of the plant they come from. A fruit develops from the flower of a plant, while the other parts of the plant are categorized as vegetables. Fruits contain seeds, while vegetables can consist of roots, stems and leaves.

AgroExpert and Visionary
Sustainable Agriculture

23/08/2020

Due to public demand

Zach Sillage Boss ®️

SILAGE PREPARATION

Guide to making nutritious silage for your animals

Silage and hay are preserved feeds that come in handy for dairy cows during periods of scarcity of green forage.

The process of making silage involves fermentation under anaerobic conditions. It prevents fresh fodder from decomposing and allows it to keep its nutrient quality.

It requires sufficient soluble carbohydrates (sugars) for organic acid production. Adding molasses to the fodder is recommended since it is rich in sugar, which enables the bacteria to produce the organic acids immediately.

The more molasses you add, the faster the acidification and preservation process will occur.

WHY FEED YOUR COWS ON SILAGE?

Silage ensures high milk production and healthy dairy animals, especially during dry seasons. It is palatable, laxative, digestible, nutritious and requires less floor area for storage than hay.

SILAGE PREPARATION

Silage is produced through use of pits or trenches, towers and sacks for small quantities. However, pits are mostly used to prepare silage for large dairy units.

The silage pit should be located at a place safe from rodents, away from direct sunlight and with higher elevation or slightly sloppy to avoid rain water entering into the facility.

The ideal materials used in silage making should have a moisture content of 60 to 70 per cent or dry matter in the range of 30 to 35 per cent (tested by taking a small bundle of the fodder and wringing with two hands and if no moisture comes out, it is ready to ensile) and a pH below 4.2 for wet forage and below 4.8 for wilted forage. In rainy periods when the fodder is too wet, containing more than 70 per cent water, it is advisable to wilt it in the sun first.

Crops such as maize, sorghum, oats, pearl millet, and napier grass are very suitable for ensiling (preserve green fodder).

They contain fermentable carbohydrates (sugar) necessary for bacteria to produce sufficient organic acid that acts as a preservative.

Though leguminous fodders can also be used, they are rich in proteins and low in sugars making them a bit difficult to ensile.

Harvesting maize or sorghum for making silage is ideal when their seeds are soft but not milky when squeezed open.

Napier grass, on the other hand, needs to be about a metre high while legumes should have young pods, which are not dry.

Apart from molasses, other additives like common salt, formic acid, lime or urea can also be used to enable good fermentation process.

To start, prepare the pit and then place a big polythene sheet on the floor and walls. Cover about a metre of walls so that the forage does not come into contact with soil.

Chop the fresh forage to lengths of about one inch using either a panga or a chaff cutter. Prepare the first layer by emptying the chopped materials into the plastic lined pit to approximately 15cm high, and spread evenly.

FUNGI GROWTH

Then dilute molasses with water at a ratio of about 1:2 and sprinkle evenly over the forage layer using a garden water sprayer.

Compact the layer by trampling on it using clean boots to force out as much air as possible. This will prevent fungi growth and spoilage.

Repeat this process of adding bags of chopped forage, diluted molasses while compacting to expel maximum air out of the material until the pit gets filled in a doom shape.

After the final filling and compacting, wrap the polythene sheet around the silage and cover the top of the heap with a second sheet to prevent water from running into the silage.

Finally cover the heap with a thick layer of soil of at least 2ft giving special attention to the edges first as you come towards the middle to keep the air out and to prevent damage of the polythene by rain, birds and rodents.

With good sheeting and enough soil on it, the silage can be kept for more than one year.

OPENING THE SILAGE PIT

It takes about 30 to 40 days for the silage to mature and be ready for feeding. Never open the whole silage pit at once.

Only one end of the narrow side should be opened a bit. Remove enough material for each day’s feeding and cover again. This way air is prevented from entering the silage.

However, once the pit is opened, use the silage as quickly as possible.

SILAGE QUALITY

Silage can be classified as good quality depending on its physical characteristics like taste, smell, and colour but more precisely by measuring the pH in the pit.

A pH of 3.5 to 4.2 indicates excellent fresh acidic/sweetish silage, 4.2 to 4.5 for good acidic, 4.5 to 5.0 fair less acidic and above 5.0 for poor pungent/rancid smelling silage.

Good silage should be light greenish or greenish brown or golden in colour. It should have a pleasant smell like that of vinegar, and acidic in taste, and should not contain mould.

Black indicates poor silage. Overheated silage has the smell of burnt sugar and dry in texture. Badly fermented silage has offensive taste, strong smell, slimy soft texture when rubbed from the fibre or leaf.

23/08/2020

Use of silage additives (acids, enzymes, inoculants) to ensure acidic conditions are attained will help to eliminate mycotoxin production during the initial phases of ensiling, but will not decrease the mycotoxin that may already be present from the harvested crop.

4. Once the silage is stable, focus should be directed toward management of the silo during storage and feedout. Exposure to oxygen can provide fungi with the opportunity for mycotoxin production at this stage. Silos should be checked on a regular basis to ensure that holes in the seal are patched. Also, silo size should match herd size to ensure silage exposed to oxygen is removed within 24 h of exposure (at least 10 cm or 4 in/day, depending on ambient temperature).

Controlling mould and mycotoxin contamination at the feedbunk
Good feed management practices at the feedbunk can reduce encounters with mycotoxins when feeding corn silage:

1. Obviously spoiled silage, usually associated with an oxygen leak during storage or slow oxygen removal due to poor packing or dry silage, should be discarded.

2. Clean leftover feed from feedbunks on a regular basis, both to ensure high intake and to reduce the opportunity for mycotoxin production.

3. Producer options to detoxify feeds are increasing. The use of sodium bentonite and other adsorbent materials have been used in Total Mixed Rations (TMR’s) with limited success. Unfortunately, no one product can protect the animal from all mycotoxins, and usually producers must wait for extended periods of time to find out which individual or combination of mycotoxins they are dealing with. An alternative to use of adsorbent materials, is dilution of the problem silage with other forages. Again, lack of information about the level and type of mycotoxin in the silage means that producers are required to proceed by trial and error.

02/08/2020

The idea is to find a balance of nutrients for each particular crop. Tomatoes, apples and peppers are examples of crops that may benefit from calcium nitrate applications. When applied early in fruit development, the calcium stabilizes cells so they don't collapse, causing blossom end rot.

02/08/2020

Peas are a brilliant source of roughage and vitamins. One serving of peas contains as much Vitamin C as two large apples and more fibre than a slice of wholemeal bread

30/07/2020

TOMATO CRACKING
-Tomato cracking is one of the problems when it comes to production of tomatoes.
-It is not a disease but a condition (physiological disorder).
-These conditions can lead to poor market, and downgrading of the fruits hence reduced income.

WHAT CAUSES A TOMATO TO CRACK?

-It is a condition which is associated with growing conditions.
-Tomatoes can crack when the plant goes through a period of not receiving water then receive excessive water through irrigation. -This leads to the tomato plant to get too much water too fast. The interior of the tomato fruit absorbs the extra amount of water, and it expands too fast.
-The tomato skin will not be able to withstand the contents of the fruit and it expands then the fruit will crack.

HOW TO PREVENT CRACKING?

-Mulching of the tomatoes plants (Covering the soil with any material so as to prevent high rate of water loss) make use of grass or plant residuals.
-Keep water supply even
A balance fertiliser should be applied

NB if the tomato plant dries out; water them just to keep them alive. Too much water at one time set up condition for cracking. Once your plants have recovered from their dry spell, slowly re-establish a regular watering schedule.

07/07/2020

Foliar Fertilization Benefits
Foliar fertilization supplements soil fertilization and works successfully as an expansion to your fertilization program. High quality and well-balanced WUXAL®foliar fertilizers provide your crops the specific nutrients they need to enhance their growth in the most critical stages.
Quick Nutrient Supply
The best nutrient boosts for your crops in the short-term are only possible through foliar fertilization. You can apply boron during flowering for an improved fruit set or use manganese against a developing deficiency on the leaves – soil-applied nutrients are never this quick or effective.

Quick Nutrient Supply
The best nutrient boosts for your crops in the short-term are only possible through foliar fertilization. You can apply boron during flowering for an improved fruit set or use manganese against a developing deficiency on the leaves – soil-applied nutrients are never this quick or effective.
WUXAL® foliar fertilizers are applied directly to the plant tissue where nutrients are needed most. There is no need to put them in the soil or transport them through the entire plant.

Crop Stress Relief
During the long period of plant growth until harvest, many internal and external factors can have a negative impact on your plants. This includes stressors such as increased nutrient demand in specific growth stages, frost or droughts and herbicide applications.
WUXAL® foliar fertilizers and biostimulants are the best tools to combat or even prevent these stress factors quickly. You get the best results under the most difficult conditions.

Higher Yields and Quality
The nature of plant growth determines the yield and quality of your harvested products. Sound nutrition begins at seed level and extra foliar applications at the end of the year can improve bud formations for richer flowering in the following year.
A balanced foliar nutrition program that supplements soil fertilization, will raise yields and quality above and beyond ordinary levels and ensure robust crops in the most critical conditions.

Reduced Soil Pollution
Soil-applied nutrients have many more pathways to run off than with foliar applications. The leaching of specific nutrients into soils, such as nitrogen into ground water, is a huge problem, especially in light and sandy soils. Nutrients that bind easily to soil particles may not be available to the plant, although they are present in the soil.
An oversupply of nutrients to the soil may be sufficient to the plant but it puts great pressure on the environment. Foliar fertilization is environmentally friendly and can supplement your soil fertilization program in a targeted way.

Improved Spray Solutions
The factors influencing optimum spray performance are the stability and activity of ingredients, the nutrients and plant protection products along with product compatibility. WUXAL® fertilizers are developed to benefit the spray solution in a variety of ways.
The stability of crop protection products is maximized, enabling the fastest possible foliar absorption of nutrients, by buffering the spray solution to a pH range of neutral to slightly acidic. Compatibility agents prevent unfavorable reactions that could reduce active ingredient functionality or lead to clogging of spray nozzles.

Flexible and Easy to Use
Individually tailored, crop-specific nutrition is complex. Applying the right nutrient elements at the right moment and dosage can be extremely challenging. WUXAL® foliar fertilizers are perfectly adjusted to your specific needs and come with recommendations based on a long history of experience with fertilization around the globe.
Combining nutrients with plant protection products in a single application is worry-free, offering you the highest level of convenience and flexibility.
Foliar Absorption and Transport Mechanisms

Before assimilation can take place, a nutrient must be absorbed by the leaf or fruit tissue. Here are the four main steps in foliar nutrient absorption:

1 pe*******on through the cuticle
2 pe*******on through the epidermal cell wall
3 nutrient uptake into the cells
4 distribution inside the plant (nutrient mobility)

Efficient absorption depends mainly on the wetness of the leaf surface and the pH of the spray solution along with several other factors. The quality and the nutrient ratio of the formulation will determine the efficacy of absorption and agronomic performance. WUXAL® foliar fertilizers are equipped with special additives enhancing wetness, rainfastness and the pe*******on of the nutrients involved. They are formulated to ensure compatibility with most pesticides' active ingredients.
TIP
Essential Foliar Fertilization
Every crop requires basic nutrition from soil fertilization. Foliar fertilization is essential for sustainable nutrition that makes the best use of your resources. Find out more about how foliar nutrition can make a major impact on your bottom line.

01/06/2020

HEARTWATER

Heartwater is caused by a small parasite that is spread to animals by the bont tick. It can occur in goats and sheep and is one of the most common diseases that affect goats around the world. The scientific name is Cowdria ruminantium (Rickettsia).

Animals are infected when they are bitten by an infected tick Signs of heartwater are fever, depression and high stepping (walking) leading to convulsions and death. Infected animals react excessively to external stimuli and various clinical signs can be observed. Goats wiuth heartwater will also start trembling, rapidly blink their eyes, especially if the head is handled, and the forelegs tread high, as if the goat is intoxicated. Some goats continue chewing without food in the mouth, and in advanced stages animals lie on their side, making running movements with their legs, with the head and neck pulled backwards. At the point of death froth is often noted at the mouth.

The treatment for heartwater is by means of tetracycline or doxyclyclines. Read the instructions on the bottle for the dose. Treatment should be done timeously before the nervous symptoms occur. The medication should be administered at the right dosage. In severe cases it should be administered
slowly intravenously. It is always advisable to administer a dose of cortisone as well. The cortisone helps to stabilise the blood vessels and cell walls resulting in less fluid leak, and it helps to relieve pressure on the brain.

Infected goats should not be kept alone in a kraal. Ruminants are herd animals who prefer not to be alone. Place one or more healthy goats in the kraal with a sick one to limit stress and to fast-track the healing process. Provide soft feed and extra water as well as sufficient shade.

It is advisable to administer a vitamin B complex to promote recovery of the nervous system and to stimulate the appetite. Consult your vet for further advise on this.

Strategic tick control can be of assistance in managing the disease. A live heartwater vaccine is also available, however often farmers prefer to 'block' the goats with tetracyclines. But remember, there are many different strains of heartwater. Breeders should manage the parasites on the farm well!

See below pictures of the Bont tick that causes heartwater.

Care Of Button Mushrooms: Learn About Growing White Button Mushrooms 01/06/2020

Growing mushrooms is a little talked about side of gardening. While it may not be as conventional as tomatoes or squash, mushroom growing is surprisingly easy, versatile, and very useful. Growing white button mushrooms is a good place to start, since they’re both tasty and easy to maintain. Keep reading to learn more about how to grow white button mushrooms and some white button mushroom information. Growing White Button Mushrooms Growing white button mushrooms doesn’t require sunlight, which is especially nice for the indoor gardener whose windows are full up with plants. They can also be grown at any time of year, with winter actually preferable, making for a great gardening opportunity when everything outside is cold and bleak. Growing white button mushrooms takes spores, tiny microscopic things that will grow into mushrooms. You can buy mushroom growing kits made up of organic material inoculated with these mushrooms spores. White button mushrooms grow best in nitrogen-rich manure, like horse manure. To create an indoor bed for your mushrooms, fill a wooden box that’s at least 6 inches (15 cm.) deep with manure. Leave a few inches (8-9 cm.) of space below the rim of the box. Spread the inoculated material from your kit on the top of the soil and mist it thoroughly. Keep your bed in the dark, damp, and warm – around 70 F. (21 C.) – for the next few weeks. Care of Button Mushrooms After a few weeks, you should notice a fine white webbing on the surface of the bed. This is called mycelium, and it’s the start of your mushroom colony. Cover your mycelium with a couple inches (5 cm.) of damp potting soil or peat – this is called casing. Lower the bed’s temperature to 55 F. (12 C.). Make sure to keep the bed moist. It may help to cover the whole thing with plastic wrap or a few layers of wet newspaper. In about a month, you should start to see mushrooms. Care of button mushrooms after this point is very easy. Harvest them by twisting them out of the soil when you’re ready to eat them. Fill in the empty space with more casing to make way for new mushrooms. Your bed should continue to produce mushrooms for 3 to 6 months.

Read more at Gardening Know How: Care Of Button Mushrooms: Learn About Growing White Button Mushrooms https://www.gardeningknowhow.com/edible/vegetables/mushrooms/growing-white-button-mushrooms.htm

Care Of Button Mushrooms: Learn About Growing White Button Mushrooms Growing white button mushrooms is easy. Learn more about how to grow white button mushrooms and some white button mushroom information in this article. Click here to get started and you?ll be on your way to harvesting your own in no time.

01/06/2020

Wheat is the second most important cereal after maize in the food security basket in Zimbabwe. Flour`s easiness to produce various products such as bread, buns and cakes has made the crop popular with the general populace. Its importance is broadly two pronged i.e. to the farmer and to the nation.

To the farmer

To the farmer it is one of the crop ventures with a very lucrative return on investment. The return per dollar invested for wheat is about $2-$3 under high productivity levels. After investing about $2000.00/ha, a farmer can get a total income of about $4000.00 (at 8 tonnes/ha and @$500/tonne), giving a gross profit of about $2000.00/ha. We can imagine a farmer doing 200ha getting between 8 and 11 tonnes/Ha.

It is also a major viable component of double cropping set ups. We have always been encouraging farmers with irrigation to adopt the double cropping concept in order to improve their bottom and top line stories at farm level as well as to spread coverage of fixed costs per year. Growing wheat in winter also aid spread of cash flow on the farm. The basic farm business principle is that farmers should have at least 2 major crop harvests per year supported by other complimentary crop sales/ventures after every two months. We generally recommend diversity in terms of crops and other non-crop ventures on the farm. This generally ensures smooth running of farming concerns. Maize-Wheat-Maize or Soybean-Wheat-Soyabean are some of the common rotations. The same machinery can be used to harvest both the winter and summer crops especially combine harvesters.

To the nation

Since the nation is in a drive for import substitution, producing wheat locally will result in forex savings which would otherwise be channelled to other more productive related priorities of the economy. The national annual wheat/flour requirement is about 350 000 MT and over the years Zimbabwe was producing less than a quarter of that. One can imagine the savings if we can produce this sum requirement locally.

Producing wheat locally will create employment directly at farm level (agriculture value chain) and indirectly (other value chains), upstream and downstream industries such as milling, baking and food outlets. Currently wheat contributes between 4-5% (a significant chunk) to the agriculture GDP. Producing this annual national requirement locally will surely double if not thrice its contribution to the agriculture GDP. Ultimately we can also expect an increase in agriculture GDP contribution to the national GDP from the current range of 20-30% upwards.

This week we are going to share some agronomic considerations to increase wheat productivity and production in Zimbabwe.

Planning for wheat production

The standard cost structure for wheat at high management levels ranges between $1700 and $2100/ ha at full absorption (i.e. incorporating all variable costs). This cost outlay is huge on a per hectare basis and as such farmers should always aim to achieve higher yields in the upwards of 6 tonnes per Ha for them to realise a margin. Zimbabwe used to achieve some of the highest national average yields of wheat between 5-6t/ha in the past as compared to the current global average of 2.5 – 3t/ha. The genetics (varieties) are still there and if we get our management right we can achieve in excess of 10t/ha in the high potential areas. Let us tap into the genetic gains. Using the current GMB prices, the break-even yield (when the gross profit is zero) is 4 tonnes/ha. Some good farmers are getting above 8 tonnes per ha and even up to 11 tonnes/ha. We can imagine the returns in such cases. It is imperative to adopt Good Agronomic Practices (GAPs) to improve productivity levels and in order to optimise our top-lines and bottom lines at farm level-the ultimate end game!

Soilsand climate.

Wheat is a temperate crop and is best grown in winter under irrigation with optimum day temperatures of between 15 – 20OC and cooler nights giving the best yields. There are some varieties that may be grown in summer (such as Sahai), but generally there is high disease and w**d pressure in summer accompanied by warmer temperatures that result in depressed yields (≤ 3t/ha), therefore, winter is the best time for growing wheat.

The crop is adapted to a wide range of soils. The soils must be well drained with an optimum pH range of 5.5-6.5 on a Calcium Chloride scale. Wheat yields are greater in the highveld (>1200 masl (metres above sea level)) and middleveld (800 – 1200 masl) with yield potential of 8 to 12 t/ha compared to the lowveld ( 90 days) must not coincide with frosty conditions to avoid crop sterility.
Seeding Rates

The optimum plant population for wheat is 220-250 plants per m2. Seed rate depends on the seed size, germination percentage, planting conditions and planting method. To achieve optimum population density, a seeding rate of about 110-125 kg/ha when drilling and 125-135 kg/ha when broadcasting with a vicon spreader is recommended. To ensure good crop standability and yield, farmers should adhere to these optimum population densities. Diseases such as Powdery mildew are also minimized with good agronomic practices.

Irrigation requirements and scheduling

Since there is very little or no rainfall during winter in Zimbabwe, irrigation is required to achieve a high yielding wheat crop. The total gross amount of water required is between 450 and 600 mm per ha (i.e. 4.5 - 6 mega litres per ha) depending on method of irrigation (Overhead irrigation with sprinkler or use of Centre Pivots) and must be applied as the crop requires it. The key points are:

the soil must be brought to field capacity to the full potential rooting depth (about 1,2 m) at planting to emerge the crop;
a light irrigation must be applied at the 4th or 5th day after sowing, to break the crust to ensure good crop emergence
a light irrigation must be applied at 14 to 17 days after emergence to stimulate crown root development and tillering, and;
irrigation thereafter must be applied to match crop water use. On sandy soils with low water holding capacities, irrigate frequently (7 to 9 day cycles with 30-35mm net). On clays and sandy clays, with good water holding capacities, irrigation may be less frequent with larger amounts (10 to 14 day cycles with 40-45 mm net). This is a general irrigation scheduling guide. For an informed irrigation scheduling, the use of a soil auger to evaluate the soil water content ahead and behind the irrigation line is a good aid to irrigation management. Irrigation is terminated when the neck of the ears/spikes/head (peduncle) turn yellow i.e. physiological maturity.
Crop hardening: After the crop has emerged, the hardening stage begins. This induces crown root development as well as tillering. The recommended hardening period (irrigation is temporarily terminated during this stage) is 10 and 14 days in light and heavy soils respectively.
Top dressing fertilizer and herbicide application is done after a light irrigation which follows the hardening period, normally about 21 days after emergence.
Fertilisation

The fertiliser regime management in wheat, like any other crop must be tailored to the soil fertility status, the yield potential and the grain quality requirements. As a general guide, wheat requires a basal application of 300 to 500 kg/ha of a compound fertiliser (such as 7-14-7) and a top dressing of 350 to 500 kg of Urea or Ammonium Nitrate per ha. Both fertilizer dressings are broadcast by a vicon.

Generally, 160 -190kg/ha of Nitrogen Units 👎, 50 - 70 units of Phosphorous (P) and 30 – 50 units of Potassium (K) are adequate for optimum plant growth. Basal fertilizer need incorporation into the soil by discing and should be applied after primary tillage. The top dressing is usually applied in one application between 14 – 21 days after emergence on heavy soils, and in two applications of equal amounts at 14 and 35 days after emergence on sandy soils. Top dressing should be applied after the hardening stage. Top dressing is essential for good leaf and general plant growth and ultimately the yield but also importantly for attaining good protein levels. The minimum protein level requirement for “Premium” (Good quality) wheat is 11%. It is one of the considerations for grading and pricing of wheat. Attainment of good protein levels is also determined by varietal choice and general management. Application of Nitrogen after flowering can also boost the Grain Protein Content of wheat.

All fertility management practices must be based on proper full soil analysis recommendations by approved laboratories.

W**d control

Farmers are advised to use some wheat specific post-emergence herbicide which should be applied after a light irrigation which follows the hardening period (2 WACE-Weeks After Crop Emergence). We also recommend farmers to apply specific herbicides against volunteer crops. Puma super is normally sprayed when wheat is planted after a maize crop against maize volunteer plants. For soya volunteers, a herbicide called ally is recommended. Banvel and MCPA combination covers a wide spectrum of broad leaf w**ds and is recommended.

Farmers can consult agronomists and agrochemical companies for herbicide recommendations and it is important for farmers to read labels whenever they are applying herbicides.

Pests and diseases.

Aphids and stalk borers can attack wheat with aphids coming in earlier soon after tillering while borers can attack the plant from flowering onwards. Farmers must also be on the look-out for “Fall armyworm” given that wheat is one of the host crops to the pest. These pests can be controlled with appropriate pesticide sprays after scouting.

During the late grain-filling period, Quelea birds may consume much grain and reduce yields significantly if not attended to. A pesticide molecule called 9,10-Anthraquinone 50% WP (Bird Shield) has been developed, which can be used as a seed dressing or as a foliar spray at soft dough stage. Efficacy of this pesticide molecule can be enhanced by applying with a sticker and also a rainfast period of 4 hours or more. This pesticide molecule will act as a bird repellent. This is the best and the most efficient option. The other option is bird-scaring using bells, tins, whistles, discs/reflectors etc. by bird scaring gangs.

Diseases such as Leaf rust, Stem rust, Powdery mildew, Fusarium head blight and Take-all may cause yield reduction. Farmers must seek professional advice on how to control these diseases. The best bet is for farmers to grow resistant varieties and Seed Co wheat varieties such as SC Select are resistant to these diseases. Generally two preventative fungicide sprays are recommended if farmers are located in disease prone areas and gives some form of insurance against climate change that can result in new disease pathotypes.

NB: Farmers are encouraged to scout their wheat crop for diseases, pests and deficiencies and make spraying decisions early when pest/disease reaches economic threshold levels.

Consult Agrochemical companies for more information on chemicals. Always read chemical labels carefully, use safe practices and adequate protective gear during application.

Parting shots

A farmer must be a Crop Doctor, who takes time to investigate his fields in order to prevent problems and improve productivity. He walks his fields regularly, observing, inspecting, evaluating and interpreting the possible effect of the observations on crop growth. He diagnoses problems, seeks and proffer solutions.

Here are some tips on how to be a crop doctor:

Walk through your fields in a random manner, stopping every now and then to examine the soil, plants and surroundings. Be observant, be an investigator, think and take notes.

Examine at least ten places in the field when taking a general inspection, but if scouting for pests and diseases, it may be necessary to examine between 24 and 100 plants or more, depending on the pest and the size of field. Inspection pattern can be random, zig zag or diagonalpattern.

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