THE Tobacco Research Board (TRB) has called on all tobacco growers, contractors and agrochemical companies to do early land preparation to ensure better yields.
TRB also said growers should timely collect and send for analysis soil samples for lime and fertiliser recommendations.
In a presentation at Kutsanga Centre in Harare this week, TRB soil chemist Dadirai Chinamo said: “Timeous and effective land preparation and soil testing are essential components, among several others, for profitable tobacco production. Before lands are prepared, it is necessary to have the soil for individual lands tested around March to May to establish concentrations of available nutrients and determine fertiliser requirements for optimal crop growth. Soil testing also gives an indication of the level of acidity or alkalinity of the soil (pH).”
She said the correct amounts of fertilisers and liming agents should be determined, while correct soil sampling must be done.
“The timeous preparation of land ensures optimum soil conditions that enhance the successful establishment of transplants. When done late, growers may face problems such as build-up of insects and weed seed bank, poor stand establishment and nutritional deficiencies leading to high costs of production,” Chinamo said.
“For small-scale growers who use draught power, early ploughing soon after the rains also ensures that cattle for draught are in good condition to pull the plough unlike later in the season when they may have inadequate strength to pull the plough.”