The Advantages of Picking the Right Planting Times
by Wencelous Nyamufukudza
▪Picking the right planting time is one of the most important decisions you will make when it comes to crop farming because it is the time when the seed or seedlings are placed in the ground to establish the crop. If there is poor establishment, yield potential is immediately limited.
Factors to consider are:
1. The Time of Planting
The time of planting has a major effect on the yield of a crop. For most crops there is an optimum time of planting, which depends on the climatic conditions and the time taken to reach maturity. For summer crops, such as maize, and groundnuts, early planting at the beginning of the rainy season is desirable, as yields decrease with late planting.
2. The Plant Spacing
The plant spacing refers to the distance between rows and between plants in the row. The closer the spacing, the greater the number of plants per hectare The ideal plant spacing depends on the type of crop, variety and the climatic conditions such as rainfall/water availability. Short statured crops (like soyabean) may be grown at closer spacings than tall, large crops (like maize). In drier areas, wider spacings are preferable in order to provide more soil water to the individual plants. In high rainfall areas, or where there is irrigation, closer spacings are possible.
3. The Depth of Seeding
The sowing depth of a crop depends on the size of the seed, the type of soil and the weather. Generally, smaller seeds are sown at a shallower depth than larger seed, while the deeper the seed is planted, the longer the seedling will take to emerge and the weaker the plant will be at emergence, which may reduce plant vigor and yield. Seeds may be planted deeper into sandy soil or when dry planting (i.e., planting before the rain). An important point to remember when planting is to ensure good seed-to-soil contact, as this enables the necessary absorbance of water which initiates germination.▪Allow for soil temperatures with dry planting. Seed is a living organism that can desiccate and die. Note: plant seeds at least 2 centimeters away from applied fertilizers as the fertilizers can burn the seed.