The 2022/2023 summer cropping season is expected to officially end this month giving the crops ample time to mature and dry.
This is in line with Meteorological Services Department’s (MSD) prediction that the rains were going to start in November and end in March.
Most crops are at an advanced stage of maturity pointing towards a good rainy season.
Experts said the country’s failure to reach the desired output of 3m tonnes will be due to other issues rather than rains as they were better distributed than in previous seasons.
Lands, Agriculture, Fisheries, Water and Rural Development minister Anxious Masuka said that overall, there was a good rainfall distribution in the current agriculture season.
“The season is likely to end in late March in the northern part of the country, but in the southern part of the country it is expected to end earlier and with most crops planted in November, a significant percentage has already matured,” Masuka said.
He said crop establishment was generally good across the country as planting coincided with the first effective rains in most areas.
“The maize crop planted by November 2022 constitutes 49% of the total planted area. The bulk of the crop is at the late reproductive to maturity stage while the early-planted irrigated maize crop has reached physiological maturity and is ready for harvesting.
“The crop planted by the end of December 2022 ranges from late vegetative to early reproductive and constitutes 42% of the area under maize.
“The crop planted in January 2023 is at the early vegetative to the late vegetative stage and constitutes 9% of the total maize area,” he said.
According to the crop, livestock and fisheries report, the bulk of the traditional grain crop is at the late vegetative to early reproductive stage.
Most of the farmers took advantage of the January rains to plant pulses such as African peas, beans, sweet potatoes as well as sunflowers.
Most of these crops are at the early to late vegetative stage.
It has been observed that the bulk of the irrigated tobacco is ready for marketing, whilst some of the dry land crops are being harvested, cured, and graded with some farmers having been affected by the late rains and have a late tobacco crop which still requires top dressing fertiliser to boost output.
The Zimbabwe Commercial Farmers Union president Shadreck Makombe told Business Times that the crops across the country have a good standing.
“Generally, most crops have reached maturity and will not be affected by the ending of the season in March. Even the early-maturity crops which were planted in January will be ready by then.
“We only fear for the sunflower, sugar beans, sweet potatoes, and Irish potatoes which were planted recently,” Makombe said.
He said farmers must guide against post-harvest losses to ensure the country gets most of the output as predicted in the assessments.
The 2022/2023 season was characterised by an early onset of the rains in most parts of the country, however, Mashonaland provinces experienced a rather late onset of the season and most farmers reacted to the first effective rains.
This marked the start of the rainfall season; hence the bulk of the cereal crops was planted in November and December.
The rainfall situation improved across the country from the second to the third dekad of December into the first dekad of January.
In some areas, the rains were incessant during this period.