Planting delayed

With the first summer rains having been received late, crop planting has commenced, but only in a few areas.

09 January 2019 | Agriculture

RONELLE RADEMEYER

Farmers in the Maize Triangle of Otavi, Grootfontein and Tsumeb have commenced planting after the area received copious rainfall of between 50 en 60 mm in the past ten days.

Gernot Eggert, the chairperson of the Agronomic Producers’ Association, told Namibian Sun that December saw almost no planting because very little rain had fallen.

“We have been saved by the wetter, cooler conditions during the first week of January. Ideally, one must wait until you have received 100 mm but most of these farmers have only received between 50 and 60 mm.”

Namibian farmers have a little more leeway for later planting.

In South Africa, farmers must plant by the end of December to avoid frost damage, as winter sets in.

According to Eggert, December is ideal for planting in Namibia but farmers have until the end of January.

“However, there are farmers who have to plant earlier because they do experience earlier frost.”

Eggert added the week of 14 January will be the “swing factor” for dry-land maize producers.

“Should we have received enough rain by then, the farmers will plant more fields.”

Eggert has only planted a quarter of his fields and says when conditions improve, more fields will be planted.

Of concern though, Eggert said, is that most farmers missed their mid-December planting period, and most will not plant all their fields this year.

Elize van Niekerk, 2018’s Master Agronomist winner who farms near Summerdown, said she has only planted 30 hectares of her planned 80 hectares.

“The rain has come late this year. I have received 58 mm thus far. I plan to plant 80 hectares this year, but if I have not received enough rain by 15 January, I will have to plant cowpeas.”

Van Niekerk also has 30 hectares of maize under irrigation.

Small-scale farmers in the two Kavango and Zambezi regions have also only recently started planting, according to Dr Fidelis Nyambe Mwazi, the CEO of the Namibian Agronomic Board (NAB).

Mwazi said rainfall also came late to these regions. In the central northern communal areas the situation is still quite bad and very few mahangu farmers have started planting.

“The first rains were only received towards the end of December,” Mwazi said.

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