Farmers have now planted more than 908 999 hectares of maize countrywide, with communal farmers leading the way.
The Government set a target of two million hectares for the 2021/2022 summer cropping season and farmers can continue planting until Saturday.
According to the Ministry of Lands, Agriculture, Fisheries, Water and Rural Development, communal farmers had by last Friday planted 483 626ha of maize.
This is a decrease from the 573 320ha that had been planted by this group of farmers during the same period last year.
The Agritex update indicates that by last Friday, A1 farmers had planted 170 700ha compared to 161 643ha last year, A2 farmers planted 100 564ha compared to 122 155ha in the same period last year, while farmers in the old resettlement areas had planted 92 418ha compared to 120 267ha last season.
Farmers from the same scale commercial farming areas have planted 36 772ha of maize compared to 49 442ha.
Large scale farmers have planted 18 602ha compared to 33 129ha last year.
The late arrival of the near continuous rains meant that a lot of farmers wanted to wait until the ground was well soaked before risking planting, unless they had supplementary irrigation.
Mashonaland West has the most hectarage under maize with farmers having planted 175 962ha, Manicaland 158 043ha, Midlands 146 771ha, Mashonaland East 117 151ha, Mashonaland Central 97 846ha, Masvingo 102 375ha, Matabeleland South 65 822ha and Matabeleland North 54 029ha.
Meanwhile, farmers have continued planting and re-planting.
Agritex principal agronomist Mrs Rutendo Nhongonhema yesterday advised farmers to apply top dressing of either urea or ammoniumq nitrate.
“Farmers should apply in splits. We encourage farmers to apply urea because of the incessant rains. Urea compares better to ammonium nitrate on the issue of leaching.
“Farmers should make storm drains to reduce the washing away of the top soil by rains. We encourage farmers to continue weeding as these unwanted plants will compete with crops. If possible, farmers should hand pull if the soils are too wet to be worked on,” she said.
Mrs Nhongomhena also urged farmers to be on the lookout for pests such as fall armyworm.
She advised Pfumvudza /Intwasa farmers to apply mulch as it will help reduce washing away of the top soil and also conserve moisture during dry periods.
“Farmers should also watch out for fungal diseases. Water harvesting should continue for use when the rains stop,” she said.
Zimbabwe Commercial Farmers Union president, Dr Shadreck Makombe said farmers had intensified planting.
He said in some areas, there was water-logging and farmers were failing to work on the fields.
“There are already signs of leaching. There are, however, some areas that have not received meaningful rains such as Muzarabani in Mashonaland Central. We advise farmers in these areas to continue planting short season varieties.
“This season has not been good for farming, but farmers have continued planting,” he said.
Farmers were urged to switch to short season maize varieties, traditional grains and sunflower.