TOBACCO farmers have been urged to start land preparation for the 2022-23 agricultural season before the current rainy season ends in order to improve next year’s yields.

Agronomist Lazarus Gatawa told NewsDay that farmers must start removing tobacco stalks as soon as they finish reaping the current crop in order to meet the May 15 regulatory deadline for stalk removal.

“We urge tobacco farmers to start preparing their land now before the end of the rainy season as this will improve their yields.  Removing tobacco stalks will control pests and diseases,” Gatawa said.

“The key incentive for farmers, who will do early tillage and planting, will be high tobacco yields of 3 000 kilogrammes per hectare and good quality crops as the tobacco will have a longer growing period,” he  said.

Gatawa said erratic rains being experienced in the southern African region, meant that tobacco farmers have to restrategise and prepare land early in order to conserve capillary soil moisture.

“With the country and southern African region experiencing extreme weather events like long drought spells, high temperatures and unpredictable rain patterns as a result of the climate change phenomenon, early land preparation ensures that enough capillary soil moisture will be conserved.  Soil samples can then be taken for soil pH testing at reputable laboratories in preparation for the soil amelioration programme where farmers could use Dolomitic Agriculture lime that is applied at least two months prior to planting or liquid Calsap lime that can be applied soon after planting to conserve moisture,” he said.

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