Commercial Farmers' Union of Zimbabwe

Commercial Farmers' Union of Zimbabwe

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‘Rains to begin in December’



‘Rains to begin in December’ovember 11, 2014 Local News

rainfallAgriculture Reporter
The 2014-15 rainy season is set to begin early next month and farmers should not panic but concentrate on land preparation, the Meteorological Service Department has said.

The MSD said significant rains were expected by December 7, with some parts of the country likely to have an earlier onset between November 13 and 25.

MSD meteorologist Mr Shingirayi Nangombe said areas in the Eastern Highlands were likely to receive meaningful rainfall between those dates.

“The rest of the country receives rainfall by the 7th of December. However, a few isolated areas will receive their first rains later than 7 December.

“Areas such as Muzarabani, Centenary and Mt Darwin and the extreme northern parts of the country on average get their rainfall onsets latest by December 3,” he said.

Normally, rains start from October to the first week of April of the following year.

The dates vary from year to year but rains usually begin in October in the southern regions of the country (Matabeleland, Masvingo, Midlands and south of Manicaland Provinces).

The onset for the rest of the country (Mashonaland and North of Manicaland Provinces) usually occurs in the middle of November.

However, of late, the onset of rains has been erratic from year to year due to climate change.

Mr Nangombe said the onset dates for specific areas could shift due to the changes in the dynamics of the atmosphere.

“The season is considered to have started if an area receives effective planting rains.

“Rains are considered to be effective planting rains if there is sufficient rain during the rain spell to wet about 5cm of soil to field capacity.”

Mr Nangombe said the onset of the rainfall season also depended on the soil type as different soils required different amounts of rain to wet to field capacity.

“For example, sandy soils require less water to wet to field capacity than clay soils. With this in mind, it is very difficult to predict the rainfall onset dates as they are dependent on factors mentioned above.

“The Met Department, however, provides the average rainfall onset dates in Zimbabwe calculated from past experience,” he said.

He said in areas that are likely to receive normal to below normal rains, farmers could grow small grains such as sorghum, sunflower, cow-peas and cotton.

Those into livestock production should start paddocking and right sizing livestock.

Increasing stored silage for animals, conservation of pastures and moderate water consumption were critical to ensure adequate supplies for livestock.

“For areas receiving normal to above normal rains, farmers should plant early with the first rains and they can select medium to short season varieties with high yielding potential,” said Mr Nangombe.

Zimbabwe is likely to receive normal rainfall throughout the season.



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